The OCU Jewish Stars organization has grown significantly since its formation last year.
The Jewish Stars is a student organization on campus that celebrates Jewish culture and tradition. The group started in the spring of 2016 and hosted only one event, the Passover Seder. Since then, they have grown increasingly and have been able to host more events on campus.
The Jewish Stars plan events based on the Jewish calendar. This year, they hosted many events to attract Jewish and non-Jewish students to their group.
Celia Tedde, musical theatre/vocal performance sophomore and president of the organization, said some events are meant to be campuswide, and some smaller events are more geared towards Jewish students, such as potluck dinners and trips to the Temple.
“Everyone is welcome to come to any event we have,” Tedde said
The most recent event was the Jewish Seder.
“The Seder is a traditional dinner on the first or second night of Passover that follows a specific order.” Tedde said. “It’s where we tell the story of Exodus, and we have traditional food.”
At this year’s Seder, the Stars expected a small group, but were excited to have many students on campus participate. The group had to add four extra tables to accommodate for all the students.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to go to the Seder and experience a little taste of Jewish culture,” said Carolann Stout, acting freshman. “I loved hearing some of the traditional songs sung in Hebrew and it was so interesting to be included in many of the Seder meal rituals,” she said.
Tedde said the Jewish Stars enjoy getting to share their culture with non-Jewish students.
Mallory Scheidel, acting freshman, said “Getting to go to the Seder was a really wonderful experience. Everyone was so open and welcoming, and I really learned a lot about the historical background of the Seder and all its meanings.”
Other events include the Hamantaschen baking event to celebrate Purim, a holiday based on the story of Esther. Tedde said it is tradition to dress up in costumes for Purim.
“It’s one of the most fun holidays,” Tedde said. “Usually we will tell the Passover story in a skit and its always really hilarious and goofy.”
The pastries baked during the event represent the triangular hat of Hamin, the villain of the story, and the cookies are meant to mock him.
The Jewish Stars sold the leftover cookies outside the caf to raise money for the group.
“We work really hard to provide free opportunities for people to learn about us, which is why we do our fundraising outside the events,” Tedde said.
The Jewish Stars also hosted a Sukkot event called “Pizza in the Hut,” which celebrates the harvest season. The students built a decorated hut with three walls called a sukkah and provided free pizza for anyone on campus.
“Our goals for the future and are to continue with these events and show people that we are part of this community,” Tedde said.
She also said students do not have to be Jewish to join the Jewish Stars.
“Our purpose is to educate the campus community about Jewish Tradition and culture, and to provide a place for people to celebrate,” Tedde said.
Tedde founded the group with help from friends because she felt Jewish students needed a place to share their culture and traditions.
“When I came to campus, I was looking for a community of people,” Tedde said. “There were a few of us that had to find a place to light Hanukah candles since we can’t light them in our dorms. It was then that we realized that there was a need for a place that Jewish students can go.”
Tedde said she is excited by the campus reaction to the Jewish Stars.
“We’ve had quite a significant growth since we started,” Tedde said. “We would love to provide more opportunities for people to learn about Jewish culture and meet Jewish people on campus.”