A Wesley College student initiative
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Introducing 'Jewnion'

A Wesley College student initiative

The purpose of the group is to celebrate Jewish culture within the school community, teaching Jewish and non-Jewish members alike about Judaism, its history and its people.

Silas Mitchell (left) and Jack Edwards, the two co-founders of Jewnion.
Silas Mitchell (left) and Jack Edwards, the two co-founders of Jewnion.

DURING one of the most challenging and busy academic periods of their lives, Wesley College year 12 students Silas Mitchell and Jack Edwards found time to establish Wesley’s first religious student-led group – the Wesley Jewish Student Union, or “Jewnion” as it is now affectionately known.

The purpose of the group is to celebrate Jewish culture within the school community, teaching Jewish and non-Jewish members alike about Judaism, its history and its people. As a Uniting Church in Australia associated school, one of Wesley’s keys principles is to rejoice in the diversity of life-giving faiths, cultures and languages.

Edwards, who is the 2022 school captain, said, “We were inspired to set up this student group as Wesley, at its core, has always been an incredibly diverse community – right from the very first cohort who began in 1866, Wesley has had Jewish students in attendance.

“We are hoping to build a strong sense of identity and pride for the Jewish community within Wesley and provide more opportunities to celebrate Jewish culture on campus. For non-Jewish members, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, gender or culture – it’s about connecting to the community and having fun,” said Mitchell.

With 80 members and around 60 students in regular attendance, each meeting features a range of fun and informative activities from music and food to quizzes, Jewish plays and competitions.

Mitchell and Edwards have received support from the school leadership and staff to help establish and promote the Jewish Student Union, most notably from the college pastor, Kaylea Fearn.

“Wesley culture is embracing and inclusive and I’m thrilled that Wesley celebrates and welcomes students of any, and all, religions,” Fearn told The AJN, adding “Spiritual expression and belonging is so important for our young people to harness and explore and Jewnion is a wonderful example of this in action.”

The Wesley College Jewnion is working towards contributing to the religious education and ethics curriculum.

“Wesley families and alumni are really pleased that this group has been so warmly embraced by the college community,” Edwards said.

“We hope to see other student-led religious or spiritual groups start at the college to enrich our understanding and appreciation of other cultures, as Jewnion is seeking to do,” he said.

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