Religious clubs at LFHS join forces


Religious Diversity Club, MSA and Jewish Culture Club at their joint meeting (Courtesy of Hannah Belenkiy).

Josie Janowicz, Staff Writer

Recently, the three religious clubs at LFHS – Muslim Student Association, Jewish Culture, and Religious Diversity – had a joint meeting where they came together to learn about each other’s religions. 

The leaders of each group gave presentations, and everyone discussed their different religions and also tried snacks from each other’s cultures. 

“It was very interesting to learn about Judaism and Sikhism and cool to see all the similarities and differences between all three religions,” MSA founder Manha Mirza said. 

While the religious clubs are very different in what they talk about, all the club founders initiated the idea for their club because of the same reasons: community and education.

MSA painting their homecoming window (Courtesy of Amani Yousuf).

“There are very few Muslim students at Lake Forest High School, and I wanted to create a safe space to talk about culture and religion,” Mirza said.

Similarly, sophomore Hannah Belenkiy started the Jewish Culture Club because she “felt there was not enough education in the community about what it means to be Jewish.” 

Some might wonder why other religions, including Christianity, aren’t represented, however, clubs are created by students so if students feel like they aren’t represented, they can create a group themselves. 

Director of Student Activities Mrs. Ashleigh Malec is the person to go to when looking to start any new organization at the high school. 

Mirza said she just “talked to Mrs. Malec and spent most of her second semester sophomore year filling [forms] out” to prepare. 


Jewish Culture Club at their Tu Bishvat event (Courtesy of Hannah Belenkiy).

She wanted to start her club sophomore year, but couldn’t officially create it until her junior year because of the new club deadline. Every year, new club requests must be submitted by Oct. 1.


Belenkiy started her group in her sophomore year. She came into high school already knowing that she wanted to start a Jewish Culture Club since she is currently the leader of her own youth group.

On the other hand, Religious Diversity Club leader Niki Singh didn’t start her club. Instead, Madeline Kapsalis, who graduated last year, started it and “passed it down.”

The important piece of information that students need to know if they want to start their own religious club is that there are two types. One is a practicing religious club and the other is only for sharing culture and tradition.

The practicing groups are required to find a teacher to act as their supervisor who isn’t paid by the school and cannot participate in the meetings. 

“All students identify as the religion in these groups. They can pray together and talk about holy scripture,” Malec said.

Muslim Student Association is a group that practices religion, while Religious Diversity and

Jewish Culture Club don’t.

Religious Diversity Club members at their Diwali Party (Courtesy of Niki Singh).


Nevertheless, all these clubs are trying to spread awareness. 

“By talking about our differences, we gain a mutual sense of tolerance, understanding, and empathy for one another,” Singh said. “It’s one step we can take to reduce misconceptions and negative sentiments we have towards those who differ from us.”