I am writing this on my last day as part of the UJS Sabbatical Team 2018-2019. I can’t believe it’s been 10 months (to the day) since we had our first Chazon session, since I moved to London and embarked on this year of adventures.
Putting what a year at UJS is like into words, especially without writing a whole book, is basically impossible. The amount of events I attended, the hours spent on trains travelling up and down the country, and the nights spent in hotels are countless, but I wouldn’t want to take the hours I invested in this job back for the world.
I moved to the UK coming from the smaller community of Vienna, arriving in Leeds to attend my first J-Soc event and I was blown away. Seeing 100 Jewish students coming together in one small city in the north of the UK for a pre drinks was not what I expected and seeing the same numbers every week at Friday night dinner was just unimaginable. This huge movement made me realise that I want to get involved- not only by attending events, but also running them. I got to know the UJS teams throughout the years, who showed me the opportunities there are within the UK Jewish community.
Being able to support and organise for 8,500 Jewish students is incredible. This job gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of students, hear their experiences, learn about their passions, and exchange about what motivates us to organize for Jewish students on campus. It has also given me the chance to take responsibility over an entire area of the organisation, with full rein over social media. I was given the platform to learn first hand and also to express my creativity, and being able to proudly say that our Instagram following has grown by 200% over the last 10 months.
The energy that comes across when you meet a Jewish student who wants to better the world can’t be described. But this is exactly what motivated me to do my best possible through this year and continue this going further: the will to create a better world for Jewish students, to celebrate our identity, to fight antisemitism and stand up for what we believed in.
This year wouldn’t have been the same without the fabulous team I had the honour of working with. Each and everyone in the UJS office has made me laugh, pushed me when it got difficult and reminded me of why we are doing our work. I am so grateful for the wonderful times we have had and the beautiful friendships we have created.
I think I have said enough mushyness. The main thing I want to finish with: if you have the opportunity to get involved in something bigger you are passionate about, do it. It doesn’t matter in what way, shape or form, but take the opportunity to put your energy in something useful, making the world a better place, and creating an environment for people that think alike to create memories.
Dana Winter, UJS Sabbatical Officer 2018-2019