Efrat Malka was a UJS Shlicha (Emissary) in the 22-23 academic year. She worked directly with students in London and across the South-East and delivered Israel Engagement programming to thousands of students during her time at UJS.
And who knoweth whether thou art came to kingdom for such a time as this". Esther IV 13, 14.
In the book of Esther, which we read on every Purim, the story tells about Haman's decision to execute all the Jews in the kingdom.
Esther, a Jewish girl who was married to the mighty king Ahasuerus, had an opportunity to use her status to save herself.
While she was debating if she should use her privileges to save herself, her uncle Mordechay talked with her and reminded her that saving herself was not the reason why she became queen.
It was a difficult time for Jews in the kingdom, their lives were in danger, and Esther realized that this time was the reason why she came to kingdom, and her duty as a queen was much bigger than just saving herself.
On October 7th I was safe.
I woke up to the roaring sound of rocket alert sirens, yet, I was safe, because that was the only rocket alert in my city since (knock on wood).
I watched the news, breathlessly, having a hard time believing that this nightmare happening in my homeland, yet, I was safe because it was far from my home, and from my town.
I saw my loved ones being called to reserve duty and being sent deep into the war zones, yet, I was safe because my unit did not call us to serve.
During the worst time that my country has ever had, I was safe, knowing that the chances that my face would be in the newspaper the next day were very low.
Yes, I had the privilege of staying safe, but I knew that I needed to do more.
So, I started looking for opportunities to help, and I found myself volunteering to reserve duty as Sambatzit (communication facilities operator) in an infantry battalion in the northern district of Israel.
These days, I'm working day and night in the operation room, far away from home, far away from safeness, with the sounds of sirens and bombing around me all day long, but with the notion in my heart that my fellows and I have an important duty in defending our homeland.
That would be a lie to say that I'm not afraid, but there is no other place I'd rather be right now. We simply have no other country to live in, and volunteering to reserve duty is the least I can do to contribute.
And in a personal note to you, Jewish students in the UK.
I can only imagine how hard it is to be a Jewish student in the UK these days, not to mention being a Jewish student who supports Israel.
Each one of you created your own kingdom- in your community, in your activities on campus, in your groups of friends, and in the societies you are taking part in.
Jeopardizing your comfortable place can feel really hard, almost impossible,
But I hope you'll find the strength and courage to keep being yourselves and keep speaking up. Keep being proud of your Judaism and your opinions. yes, these are probably the hardest times to do so, but "who knoweth whether thou art came to kingdom for such a time as this".
Love, miss, and thinking of you,
Efrat, your former Shlicha (Israeli fellow).