U. City needs more Jewish representation

Adaline Lander, Guest Writer

With the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah and the recent High Holidays, one can’t help but notice the lack of Jewish representation in the University City School district. Throughout the month of December and in the weeks leading up to winter break, everything seems to be about Christmas, but when was the last time you saw Hanukkah decorations in the school hallways? Lily Scharff, freshman, feels that in comparison to other schools, U. City is lacking in Jewish representation.  

“It’s interesting, I notice how other schools have a lot of Jewish holidays off but we don’t because our school’s mostly Christian,” Scharff said, “I feel like some people don’t even know about the religion at all.”

However, Judaism is not an unknown religion, more than 7 million Jewish people reside in America alone. Yet, it sometimes feels as if few people understand or truly know about the culture. In fact, many people are misinformed about it, including in our own school. Gabrielle Yudovich, junior, has experienced this in her time at U. City.

“On the High Holidays, people are always asking me things like, why do you miss so much school?” Yudovich said, “One time, someone said that the reason we don’t have Good Friday off is because there’s too many Jews here. But, even though a lot of Jewish people live in U. City, barely any go to our school.”

Historically, the high school had a substantial Jewish population. Yet Jewish students at the time may have taken that for granted. They were just so used to it that they didn’t even start to discuss religion. Alumni, Jerry and Harriet Lander, class of 1960, were never aware of the Jewish representation at U. City.

“At the time, I can’t say that either of us really felt any different, I don’t think we really knew how Jewish it was,” Jerry Lander said, “We certainly knew the kids we hung around with were Jewish, but I don’t think we ever really talked about religion.” 

Although Anti-Semitism seems like a big issue today, at the time it wasn’t seen as prominent in society like it is in 2022. 

“I’m sure it would be different today; it’s just so hard to imagine it,” Harriet Lander said, “We were so unaware of Anti-Semitism. It’s very strange, you would think there would be some conversation, but no.”

While a lot of Jewish families still reside in University City, few send their kids to the schools. A lot of Jewish families tend to send their children to private schools, causing the high school to lack in Jewish population. 

“I feel like the community used to be very Jewish,” Scharff said, “But, throughout the years it’s become less and less so. Which results in us not having many Jewish students.”

The issue of Jewish representation in our schools runs as deep as the curriculum that is taught. For instance, several students expressed that during their time at Brittany Woods, they rarely were taught about the Holocaust in class. Clementine Huck, freshman, hasn’t heard anything in relation to the topic all school year. 

“U. City isn’t very inclusive to Jewish people,” Huck said, “I think teachers, specifically history teachers, should teach more about things such as the Holocaust. We haven’t really talked about it in the curriculum and I feel like that’s something that could really help represent us as Jewish people.”