Prairie Stars on the Move : The Jew Crew


Photographs courtesy of Nathan Copper


The Jew Crew is the first organization on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield to focus on the culture and religion of its Jewish students. Randi Hirschel, a sophomore chemistry major and current president of this organization, founded the Jew Crew a month ago in order to represent the Jewish people on campus.

     Despite its name, there is no requirement to be Jewish in order to be involved in the organization’s activities. All that is required is an interest in and appreciation of Jewish culture. Due to their small numbers, Jewish people both on this campus and in other places within the public sphere tend to go unnoticed and unrepresented. There are already many religious groups on campus. Most of these are Protestant, with one Muslim group and one Catholic group existing as well. However, there were none for Jewish people until recently.

  Jewish people make up about 2% of the population of the United States. Although there is no official religious data for the university, that number would imply that there are 56 Jewish students currently taking classes at the undergrad level at UIS. There was no organization for these students before the Jew Crew was founded on campus.

     Most of the events that this organization is going to do are still mostly unpublished; this is due to the fact that the details have not been ironed out, and Jewish people are often the victims of antisemitism.  Being a new Jewish organization on campus, there is a fear that they will become the targets of hate and bigotry.

     Many of the events the Jew Crew plans on doing are educational in purpose. One of the major goals is to break down the walls between Judaism and Christianity and show the massive amounts of parallels between the two different religious groups. Another larger event that the organization is attempting to set up is an ECCE Speakers Series event about the Holocaust, to be presented at some point during the Spring 2019 semester.

   The Jew Crew focuses on the religious side of being Jewish as well. There are currently no synagogues or Jewish services held on the campus so, unfortunately, people who wish to attend these services have to attend services held off campus at places in the city of Springfield. Fortunately, the Jew Crew goes to these places regularly, and the members have multiple vehicles that can be used to take other members as well.

      On top of being a religious and cultural organization, the Jew Crew is meant to be a fun group to be part of. It is inclusive of all people, with the statement “[t]he UIS JC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, or physical or mental handicap. Any person who is interested in learning about the Jewish faith and/or worshiping with the UIS JC need only attend a UIS JC-sponsored event” written directly in its bylaws. The purpose of this organization is simply to be a campus group that focuses on filling a religious gap that has never been filled and have fun while doing it.