Having been the only UJS President (that I know of) to have started the year working from home, it seems only fitting that I write this blog ending my year as UJS President working from home as well.
Over the past few weeks, many people have said to me how sad it must have been not to have had a “proper year” as UJS President. However, I have been truly honoured to have led UJS and Jewish students through such a challenging year. And I want to pay special tribute to the incredible UJS team that I have had the privilege of working with this year.
I want to thank the Jewish students who elected me – at a time when Covid didn’t cross people’s minds, lockdowns didn’t exist, and when in person activity was the norm. Thank you for putting your faith in me and for allowing me to serve you.
The circumstances we found ourselves in this year compelled us to truly embrace the digital age – one where we continued, as ever, to be a diverse and inclusive movement for good, allowing Jewish students from across and outside the political and religious spectrums to engage with their Judaism and student life more broadly in whichever way they choose.
It is clear that this year has been monumental in our shared successes, leading the way for a more positive university experience for all Jewish students.
We have been proudly fighting the good fight. Whether it be combatting anti-Zionism and antisemitism or proudly defending the state of Israel from its enemies, UJS is, and will continue to be, at the frontline when fighting for Jewish students. Together with our students, whilst providing incredible online content, we have also ensured that students have had access to the bare essentials like kosher food, laundry, and medical supplies.
Young British Jews are not just the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ but the leaders of today. Jewish students are living their lives on campus, and our community should both listen to the voices of Jewish students and take them at their word. Jewish students have a unique place in our community. And UJS is the voice of those Jewish students.
Anti-Jewish racism and hatred, whilst we have seen it continue to rear its ugly head on an unprecedented scale, cannot be allowed to define the Jewish campus experience. Whether it is engaging positively on Israeli culture, music, and food, or celebrating intersectionality in the Jewish student community, we must collectively learn to see beyond the negatives to inspire the many positives that lie ahead for Jewish students.
My UJS journey began by wanting to make long-lasting change, campaigning for a better university life for Jewish students in years to come. I have been blessed to be the UJS President this year and have been proud to sow the seeds for a positive experience that will be felt by generations of Jewish students to come.
It has been truly humbling to connect with so many Jewish students throughout my time both at university and throughout my year leading our 8,500 Jewish students. I look forward to my successor continuing our work of leading, defending and enriching Jewish students for the betterment of Jewish student life both for the next year, and for years to come.
Coming out of the pandemic, Jewish students are as resilient as ever before, and Jewish life is thriving. UJS can continue to be the change that Jewish students want to see.
Am Yisrael Chai!
UJS President 2020-21