University introduces new Jewish student group

Written By Zoey Angelucci, For The Globe

Starting this semester, sophomore cinema major, Riley Crow, sought out a safe space on the university’s campus where Jewish students can have their own community. After reaching out to spiritual life head, Pastor Jennifer McCurry, Crow is now doing just that by heading and founding the university’s first Jewish Student Group. 


“When I went to Hillel Jewish University Center in Oakland, there were plenty of kids from Pitt, CMU, Carlow, Duqesne and Chatham,” Crow said. “Every school in the city was represented, except for us. They told me they do not get many Point Park students, because there is no Jewish organization on campus to tell them about the opportunities that are offered at Hillel.” 


In order to change this, Crow started reaching out on social media to see who would be interested. Originally, only two people showed interest in a Jewish Student Group. Crow began recruitment and reached out to Pastor McCurry, Point Park’s Community Coordinator of Spiritual Life.

Point Park students, staff and faculty have noted the lack of a campus Jewish organization for years,” Pastor McCurry said. “The two year anniversary of the synagogue shootings this fall serves as a reminder of how hatred, fear and distrust are expressed in part through acts of anti-Semitism. It is important for students who identify as Jewish to have a network of mutual support and to wrestle with how their identity and/or faith impacts their lives.”


Currently, the Jewish Student Group and their potential faculty advisor are focused on recruiting more members. Any student who identifies as being Jewish in any sense or has Jewish heritage is welcome to join. 


As for the future of this club, Crow has big plans. 


“We have ideas for different themed Shabbat dinners and meetings, fundraisers, holiday celebrations and cultural celebrations,” Crow said. “We plan to collaborate with other student groups such as the Black Student Union and the Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh.” 


Hattie Kenduck, a sophomore acting major at Point Park, was the first student to show interest in Crow’s proposition. Kenduck grew up in an inter-faith household, meaning one of her parents is Catholic and the other is Jewish. She said this caused a lot of spiritual confusion. 


“I’m very excited about the Jewish Student Group because I grew up in a Christian area and never knew any Jewish people outside of my own family,” Kenduck said. “I’m so excited to make more friends.”


As the SAIL Coordinator of Student Involvement, Keely Sapienza encourages students to get involved on campus. 


“This is a student’s chance to create lasting memories and experiences,” Sapienza said. “I am really excited about the Jewish Student Group, and I am looking forward to the growth and experiences this will offer our students.”


The Jewish Student Group hopes to start with introductory meetings this upcoming spring semester. 


All I could ask for is a place where Jewish students at Point Park can feel the strong sense of community that I felt when I went to Hillel and met so many other young Jewish people,” Crow said. “A place where we can exchange ideas and discuss what being Jewish means to each of us, as Judaism is complex, and there are so many different ways of thought. The one thing I could envision that gives me joy is a freshman coming to Point Park and not knowing anybody, only to see that there’s a place for them to meet people and celebrate the culture we share as Jews. Shalom, and much love.”


Crow said that interested students should reach out to him at [email protected]