HWJFA hosts Fall Teen Shabbat dinner


Sandra Koretz/Chronicle

Teen HWJFA members sit around a table and converse with each other at the Fall Teen Shabbat Dinner.

Grant Park

Members of Harvard-Westlake Jewish Families Alliance (HWJFA) gathered to celebrate their Fall Teen Shabbat dinner in Beverly Hills on Friday. Founded in 2020, HWJFA aims to provide Jewish families in the school community with opportunities to connect and learn about Jewish heritage and traditions.

After opening remarks from JFA co-leader Gabe Glassman ’22, alongside his JFA co-leader News Section and Photography Editor Sandra Koretz ’22, the members participated in prayer over challah, grape juice and candles before the potluck dinner was served.

Group members reflect on the impact of having cultural groups at school 

JFA board member Michael Schwartz ’22 said being part of the group provides meaningful ways for him to bond with other Jewish students within the school community.

“For me, [a big part of Judaism] is the Jewish community,” Schwartz said. “I never really had something like this at Harvard-Westlake until I joined this club last year, and I think this group does a really good job of planning events like this that help build a supportive community that will always be there for you.”

JFA member Morgan Beckerman ’24 added that he also finds the group is doing a great job in terms of building a strong community through these events.

“I think the best part of [being part of this] group is that it’s a tight-knit community and we all are Jewish, and so we know each other and our plights,” Beckerman said. “I enjoyed the camaraderie of everyone and we all had good conversations together.”

HWJFA hopes to have bigger events during the school year

Schwartz said he also plans to host more events on campus to bring awareness to the entire school community in the future.

“I’m hoping to focus on getting the speakers to come to the whole school rather than just the JFA members,” said Schwartz. “Last year I was bothered by the lack of Jewish representation. We brought in a lot of minority speakers who were able to explain how to be aware and support, but that didn’t really happen for Jews, and last year was a bit of a difficult year with antisemitism.”

HWJFA parent co-leader Shana Glassman (P Jessa ’20, Gabe ’22, Sammy ’24) said that the next major JFA event will be a discussion with a guest speaker on Jewish culture and history which will be open to all members of the school community.

“There is one event that’s coming up in about a week and a half and that’s for all the students at Harvard Westlake who are interested,” Glassman said. “It will be held through Zoom and there [will be] a person who will be answering questions about Israel and about what’s happening there politically and historically. [The guest speaker will answer] any other questions kids have who want to know what’s going on there.”