Thursday 14th June saw UJS host our 10th annual student awards. The evening was a celebration of the hundreds of student leaders and volunteers who have dedicated tens of thousands of hours to leading, defending and enriching Jewish life on campus.
Hosted at The Marriott Hotel in Regents Park, the evening saw over 200 people turn out to celebrate and recognise Jewish student contributions to our community and campus life. Knights, Peers and NUS Vice Presidents were joined by representatives of CST, UJIA, the Alan Senitt Memorial Trust, Chaplaincy, the Jewish Leadership Council, and the President and Vice Presidents of the Board of Deputies.
Over 100 students were nominated for 9 awards, all of whom have made fantastic and much appreciated contributions to creating Jewish student life on campus. The winners were:
- Education Project of the Year (in honour of Fred Worms OBE): Glasgow J-Soc
- Social Action Project of the Year: Glasgow J-Soc
- Interfaith Project of the Year: Lauren Keiles (Leeds)
- Campaign of the Year: Asher Goldberg and Josh Lee (Nottingham)
- Israel Engagement Initiative of the Year: Imperial Israeli Society
- Event of the Year: Brighton and Sussex J-soc
- J-Soc of the Year: Durham J-Soc
- UJS Alumni Inspiring Dedication to Community Award (in honour of Sir Victor Blank): Luciana Berger (MP) and Adam Pike
- The Alan Senitt Award for Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life: Sarah Levy (Glasgow)
Durham picked up the coveted J-Soc of the year award. From hosting weekly Friday night dinners to hosting talks from external speakers on a range of topics including connecting with G-D to a biblical reading of the #MeToo movement, Durham J-Soc have created a vibrant close-knit Jewish community, where Jewish students are supported and provided with a weekly dose of Jewish culture whilst being away from home.
The diversity and dynamism of Jewish life was highlighted with awards for the Southcoast Shabbaton, Glasgow’s Tea and Torah series and Imperial’s Israeli society for promoting peace with innovative programmes for students of all backgrounds in Israel.
Jewish students contributions to campus life and society were also celebrated with Glasgow winning the Social Action award for their Mitzvah Day collection for local food banks and Lauren Keiles picking up the Interfaith Award for running a varied Interfaith Week programme in Leeds, during her term as Leeds University Union Interfaith Officer.
The Alan Senitt outstanding contribution to campus life award went to Glasgow student Sarah Levy. The day-to-day Jewish student life in Scotland has benefitted hugely from Sarah’s contribution over the last 6 years from introducing inclusive weekly peer-led learning sessions and arranging regular fully kosher Friday Night Dinners that are accessible to students from all backgrounds and observances, Sarah’s impact will be felt for years to come.
The landmark occasion also saw the introduction of a brand-new award honouring Sir Victor Blank, who recently concluded nearly two decades as Chair of the UJS Trustee Board. Reflecting Sir Victor’s example as a former national Jewish student leader who went on to contribute to our community and British society, the award celebrates and recognises UJS Alumni who have followed Sir Victor’s inspiring example.
The inaugural award saw Luciana Berger (MP) and Adam Pike share the award. Luciana was recognised for her tireless work combating racism, promoting proper and equal services to support those living with mental illness, and her leadership in many roles in the Jewish community. Adam was recognised for his innovative leadership in the philanthropy and social care sectors as co-founder of BeyondMe and founder of SuperCarers and for his dedication to Jewish charities, including as a trustee of World Jewish Relief.
In accepting the award, Luciana applauded the commendable contribution of Sir Victor Blank and spoke proudly of her time at UJS, “I am a very proud Alumnus of the Union of Jewish Students, it is one of the reasons l stand here as a member of parliament today.”
Humbled by his awarding of this honour, as well as paying tribute to the legacy of Sir Victor, Adam Pike shared some moving reflections on two student leaders who are unfortunately no longer with us, Alan Senitt who inspired Adam to similarly complete two terms as UJS Chair, and David Kaye who ran against Adam. Adam shared that he stole David’s idea in creating the UJS Student Awards, something they laughed about. This was a fitting opportunity to recognise a much loved community figure who sadly passed away earlier this year.
In a proud closing address president Josh Holt said, ‘Jewish students across the UK and Ireland are remarkable, working day in and day out to grow and build Jewish life on campus. And that’s something we think is worthy of commendation. Tonight we have celebrated just a fraction of the students making campus a great place to be Jewish, hearing about the amazing initiatives they are working with their peers to deliver, and about the J-Socs ensuring Jewish students always have a sense of home away from home.’
The next landmark occasion for is in 2019 when UJS will celebrate 100 years of leading, defending and enriching Jewish life on campus. Watch this space...