Changes since Covid-19 in JSU

We are all living in a crazy new world, one that probably none of us suspected we would be at the beginning of the year 2020.  We now find ourselves though in a world radically changed from the one we used to live in.  Human contact has become a scant precious resource, and we all have to deal with uncertainty day to day. 

JSU is an organization that thrives on contact and interaction with our participants.  For 17 years we have met students where they are, in their schools and at regular hangout spots (like Starbucks) run JSU clubs and brought students together to learn about the issues that matter to them from a Jewish perspective with a universal message.  In the wake of Covid-19 everyone has had to find new and inventive ways to keep doing the things that are important to them and JSU is no exception.  Here are some of the things we’ve done since the pandemic began. 

JSU has gone online (and learned some lessons along the way)

Day in and day out JSU makes it our business to help teens navigate the sometimes difficult to understand world around them.  Never has the world been harder to understand and the teens have never needed this more.  Once the idea of quarantines was floated we knew we from day 1 of the discussions of going into quarantine that we were going to have to find ways to maintain interaction with our students and keep inspirational programming and support they would need to get through this difficult time.  In our case, we (like so many others) turned to Zoom to serve as our programming platform.  We continued to offer our clubs to individual school groups as well as larger meetings open to anyone who wanted to participate from around the city.  It quickly became clear that students were hungry for whatever form of “real” interaction they could get with their peers, and the structure of a JSU club provided the interactive environment they were looking to have access to.  While there are many students who are “zoomed out” and desperate to avoid any more video chat than they absolutely need, we found they still attended clubs and brought their friends along.

JSU kept the fun up

In addition to our regular JSU clubs, JSU staff took the opportunity to provide some interactive recreation.  Our gaming expert Sam Zitin developed techniques to provide a little “fun time” in the form of Zoom based board games of all sorts including several we mentioned in our previous article on family games.  Here’s a Zoom gaming tip, you can log into Zoom twice, once on your phone and once on your laptop so you can leave your phone camera pointed at a game set up and still see everyone on your laptop.

JSU helped the community

Seeking to do whatever good we can to help however we can, JSU staff and students have been volunteering to help distribute free milk and produce courtesy of USDA programs.  This amazing program was due to the hard work of several amazing individuals (thank you Rabbi Menachem Tendler, Rachaeli Staum and Jonathan Witten) and we have been honored to be able to help lend some people power to make the distributions run smoothly.  JSU is continuously on the look out for other community service opportunities for our participants in an effort to do the most good for our amazing community.

JSU broke records (with your help!)

Just a few weeks ago JSU ran it’s 3rd annual Day of Giving matching campaign.  With economic uncertainty along with daily life in a pandemic, we were uncertain how successful this important campaign would be.  However, with the help of Hashem, our generous matchers and donors and those who simply spread the message our fears proved unfounded.  In just 36 hours, the campaign raised $81,288 , 13% above our $72,000 goal.  This is the biggest Day of Giving we've ever had and with your partnership JSU will continue to build a stronger and brighter future for St. Louis.