May 7, 2004

Jewish Greek Council Formed

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As an attempt to improve both Jewish and Greek life on campus, students from various sororities and fraternities have come together to form Cornell’s first Jewish Greek Council.

The council, only a few weeks old, already has representation from each sorority and four fraternities on campus. It was started by Rachel Isaacson ’04, program director of Cornell Hillel, and two members of Sigma Alpha Mu, Zack Hollander ’04 and Brian Spund ’04. Their intention was to give members of Cornell’s Jewish community a casual and social way to get involved in Jewish life.

“It can only improve Jewish life on campus; that was the entire goal,” said Isaacson. “There is an entire Jewish community at Cornell that we haven’t reached through Hillel. We felt this type of organization would be a good way to reach those people.”

The three seniors introduced their new idea by holding several open meetings last month. At the end of the third meeting, elections were held and the regular attendees selected an executive board for next semester. The board has been in place for two weeks.

The Jewish Greek Council has four major committees: Social, Philanthropy, Community Relations and Chapter Engagement.

The executive board includes President Melissa Berger ’06, Rachel Goldfarb ’07, Josh Goldman ’07, Joanna Lieberman ’06, Zack Newton ’06, Justin Weitz ’07 and Rachel Wolf ’06.

“Our main goal is to build a bridge between the Jews in the Greek system, and to create a network-community of Jewish Greeks,” said Berger ’06. “We want to be a fun, social organization.”

Within just one month, the group has come together and started to build membership. Its primary focus, as of now, is to continue to expand. The council will be holding its first event, a barbecue, during study week on May 10 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Appel Lawn.

“One of the best parts of being involved with a new organization like this is that we really don’t have a plan that is set in stone,” said Newton ’06. “This means that we can try new things as time goes on and maybe our eventual plans will be different from what we are currently proposing.”

In addition to holding social events, the council hopes to raise money for Adopt-A-College Student, a charity that sponsors Ethiopian Jews who cannot afford a college education to go to school in Israel. The council chose to support this organization from a group of approximately seven philanthropies. The members plan to contribute the majority of the money they raise to Adopt-A-College-Student.

“Everyone agreed that this was the one we could relate to the most, as college students. Next year we are also planning to get involved in the Ithaca community and help in that way,” said Berger ’06.

“I think one of the most important responsibilities of the JGC is to make Jews in traditionally non-Jewish houses feel more attached to the Jewish community. As someone who is not in an [Alpha Epsilon Pi] or [Zeta Beta Tau], etc., I find that a lot of the time it feels like you are being left out of a group because you are not Jewish ‘enough,'” said Newton ’06.

The council has already started to plan for various events that will be held during orientation week and throughout fall semester 2004.

Newton ’06 said, “Basically what the JGC does is try to plan events in order to bring the Jewish Greek community as a whole together and even share Jewish traditions with non-Jews in the Greek system.”

Archived article by Missy Kurzweil
Sun Staff Writer