Photo Adam Saar

Jewish American Heritage Month: Meet the co-founder of CWRU’s Jewish Student Union

In recognition of Jewish American Heritage Month, which takes place annually in May, The Daily talked with Adam Saar, a rising third-year student majoring in cognitive science and economics and minoring in public policy. Saar is co-founder of Case Western Reserve’s Jewish Student Union, which aims to provide Jewish students with a cultural, ethnic, and national affinity space through cultural and social events.

Read on to learn about Saar’s experience at the university—and how his heritage has impacted his life. 

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: Where is your family from? Where did you grow up?

Saar: I grew up in Ithaca, New York, in an Israeli, Hebrew-speaking household; both of my parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. I also spent a couple of my elementary school years in Ramat HaSharon, Israel, my dad’s hometown. When I visit my extended family in Israel every year, I mainly split my time between Ramat HaSharon and Ashkelon, my mom’s hometown.

Q: Why did you choose to study cognitive science, economics and public policy?

Saar: My combination of majors allows me to focus my studies and human decision-making processes and mechanisms, which is my main academic interest. I hope to use this knowledge of human decision-making and behavior to positively impact the community or society in some way, and my interest in public policy complements that well.

Q: What do you think the campus community should know about Jewish American heritage in general?

Saar: Jewish American heritage is as diverse as Judaism itself. We are Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, came as refugees from Russian pogroms, as Holocaust survivors, as immigrants from Jewish communities all around the world, such as Israel (like me), South Africa, Latin America, and more. And yet any American Jew can still play “Jewish Geography” with any other American Jew—we have so many varying backgrounds yet are still all part of our tight-knit tribe. 

Q: Why do you believe it’s important to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month?

Saar: Very few people outside of the people of Israel actually understand what Judaism really is, and thus there are many common misconceptions of American Jews and Judaism—that Judaism is only a faith, that Jews are “white,” that Jews come from Eastern Europe. By celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month and learning more about Jewish American heritage and history, the general public can come to a better understanding of Judaism and the American Jewish community and dispel many of these misconceptions. Additionally, this is the only way that our society can understand and ultimately address instances of deeply entrenched antisemitism/judeophobia.