This year has left me with nothing but a deeply felt sense of inspiration and reassurance. Inspiration because of the many young Jewish student leaders I have had the privilege of working with and supporting, and a strong reassurance that the future of the Jewish community is in the safest hands possible, as you will all go on to lead it to ever greater heights.
As every student in the country can attest, this year was unlike any other; it brought challenges that none of us foresaw in our personal lives, academic lives, and our ability to run Jewish societies on campus. I’m proud of the resilience of the J-soc committee members that I have worked with, and the ones that I didn’t, in taking on the herculean task of maintaining and enriching Jewish student life under such adverse circumstances.
Whilst the pandemic and lockdowns raged on, students didn’t cease engaging and caring about their student activism. LGBT+ liberation, solidarity with the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community, the Uyghur genocide, tackling period poverty, refugee solidarity. These are but a few of the diverse causes that Jewish students have made a real and tangible difference to this academic year. Together, we’ve heard from students with lived experiences how to make J-Socs more accessible for LGBT+ Jewish students and Black Jewish students, together we’ve lobbied MPs to vote in favour of the Genocide Amendment to the Trade bill, and together we’ve educated about the local and global impact of period poverty. I’ve learnt so much from each student whilst supporting them to reach their targets and facilitating their projects – it’s truly been an honour. Together, we have moved the conversation forward on crucial issues of social justice - issues that all Jewish students have a stake in.
I have every confidence that the conversation will be carried forward by you all in the future. In the years ahead, my eyes will be glued to the UJS facebook page, the UJS instagram, and the UJS tiktok (go follow it if you don’t already!) for even the most minor update on Jewish student life – so I’m counting on all of you to make these pages shine with your diverse and valued activism.