The Jewish Artist and Activist Community Enlightened My Senior Year
By Scott Sincoff SEBS/SCI ’14
As a fifth-year senior, I have been able to experience and learn a lot about my Jewish self throughout my time at Rutgers. I have been able to explore my religion in the Venetian Jewish Ghetto in Italy, Jello wrestle for charity at Hillel my sophomore year and lead a few Shabbat services during my time as an undergrad. But nothing has been more important to me as a Rutgers student than the birth of the Jewish Artist and Activist Community.
This community, led by Kate Thomas ’14, has become a thriving part of Rutgers Hillel. Our focus is to combine Jewish identity with creativity and standing up for what is right. The JAAC has collaborated with numerous groups on campus to do just that. For example, the community collaborated with Verbal Mayhem and Cabaret Theatre to put on successful coffeehouses to help people speak up about injustices in the world. The Chanukah event, the Festival of Rights, had us light a candle on the Chanukiah for different aspects of freedom, oppression and justice while enjoying performances of musical and poetic expression.
Most recently, the Freedom Seder introduced the Rutgers community to a social justice-themed Seder in which we explored the connections between Pesach and aspects of social justice. Held at Tent State University in Voorhees Mall, the program encompassed the freedoms we have that we take for granted and the freedoms that we hope to one day achieve, such as freedom of debt or freedom of racially-based or sexual orientation-based discrimination.
The events that this group has put on have helped enlighten my eyes to a whole new world where I can express my Jewish identity in a new way. I know I’m not the only one who believes that this new outlet of Hillel is a great step toward showing ourselves and the surrounding community how so many parts of social justice can affect a person. As a part of this fantastic organization, I have learned that if we all consistently stand and work together through arts and activism, we can do our best to work toward a free world.
The 2013-2014 Jewish Artist and Activist Community was led by coordinator Kate Thomas ’14 and a core team of students – Scott Sincoff, Shachar May, Doran Shapiro, Vanessa Gonzalez, Francine Glaser, and Samantha Glass. They ranged from first year students to seniors and all brought different perspectives and passions to the table to help create a well-rounded community and leadership team. This community was a project of the Peer Network Engagement Internship.
Donations from community members like you help support the Peer Network Engagement Internship. Please help Rutgers Hillel and PNEI with your financial contribution.