UJS celebrated the achievements of Jewish students on campus at our 15th annual awards show!
15th Annual UJS Student Awards
On Thursday 20th April UJS hosted its 15th Annual Student Awards to recognise the exceptional work of Jewish students across the UK and Ireland over the past year. This year’s awards evening was dedicated in memory of David Kay z”l. David had a massive impact for Jewish students during his time in Leeds, completely reinvigorating the JSoc. David also had an enormous impact for students nationally bringing new thinking, new initiatives and new events to UJS. In fact, it was David who’s originally had the idea for the UJS Student Awards, and then-President Adam Pike fondly remembers asking Dave’s permission to “steal” the idea and launch this now pillar event of the UJS calendar.
This year, over 200 people attended the event in Knightsbridge to celebrate Jewish student life on campus and acknowledge the achievements of Jewish students this year.
“Tonight was a celebration of the hundreds of Jewish students who make Jewish life on campus happen. We recognised the students who volunteer their time and make our movement what it is. As my term as President draws to a close, I am incredibly thankful for the communities - and memories - we’ve built together.” - Joel Rosen, UJS President
It was amazing to see such a turn out on what is really a crucial and staple UJS event. Once again, a huge congratulations and Mazal Tov to all the winners:
- Social Action Project of the Year: Huddersfield JSoc
- Jewish Enrichment and Engagement Award: Anna Ritschl Ebell, Cambridge JSoc
- Liberation/Inclusion Initiative of the Year: Emma Taylor, Hertfordshire JSoc
- Alan Senitt z”l Outstanding contribution to Campus Life Award: Emma Taylor, Hertfordshire JSoc & Jack Lubner, Cambridge JSoc
- Event of the Year: Oxford JSoc Holocaust Memorial Day
- New JSoc of the Year: Cork JSoc & Royal Central School of Speech and Drama JSoc
- Maurice Helfgott Award for Leadership: Hannah Haskel, Cambridge JSoc
- Interfaith Project of the Year: Noah Getz, St Andrews JSoc
- Israel Engagement Initiative of the Year in Partnership with UJIA: Jacob Barnett, Leeds JSoc
- Campaign of the Year in Partnership with CST: #ScotlandRemembers, Glasgow JSoc
- Volunteer of the Year: Aaron Black, Leeds JSoc
- Education Project of the Year: Ruby Kwartz, Birmingham JSoc
JSoc of the Year: Edinburgh JSoc
Below you can find more information on the individual winners. To view all the nominees click here.
Social Action Project of the Year - Huddersfield JSoc
Huddersfield Jewish Society is one of the smaller Jewish student communities in the UK and although they are a small committee they took the initiative to reach out to other faith societies in their student union to ask to collaborate with them for Mitzvah Day projects. The Huddersfield JSoc Mitzvah Day projects included a volunteer day in DASH soup kitchen, and a collection for university building throughout the month of November to collect stationary items to donate to asylum seekers via Shared Goods. As a smaller JSoc (not so many Jews at Huddersfield uni) they really went above and beyond.
Jewish Enrichment and Engagement Award: Anna Ritschl Ebell, Cambridge JSoc
Anna has been instrumental in creating and facilitating egalitarian spaces in Cambridge. As egal rep on her JSoc, she has hosted prayer services and encouraged others to lead the services too! She has made Cambridge a more open and welcoming place for all.
Liberation/Inclusion Initiative of the Year: Emma Taylor, Hertfordshire JSoc
Emma has been a champion of LGBTQ+ representation and support on campus and across London. She has organised events with Keshet, specifically an education event for JSocs looking at gender, sexuality, identity and pronouns. She had also organised and co-hosted a UJS event for LGBTQ+ students. Emma also helped to create the LGBTQ+ network for Jewish students on campus. She’s organised an event with JWA - women’s and gender nonconforming (GNC) night to celebrate and facilitate a safe and inclusive space.
Alan Senitt z”l Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life Award: Emma Taylor, Hertfordshire JSoc & Jack Lubner, Cambridge JSoc
Emma is the co-president of her JSoc and has been an active and present leader this year. Emma has created a collaborative, inclusive and dynamic committee; encouraging discourse around sensitive topics and issues while making sure everyone feels represented and valued. She prioritised accessibility and diversity inclusion for her JSoc. She created an online accessibility forum on padlet for herts students for them to fill in throughout the year. Emma has collaborated with other small JSocs to create a Shabbaton and mental health workshop with Jami. She’s created a forums for small JSocs to communicate and discuss ideas and promote one another’s events. She also organised interactive Holocaust education for HMD and organised an interfaith event with her su for purim. She also spoke to Herts SU after the NUS report came out.
Throughout his time as a student, Jack Lubner has gone above and beyond to make an immeasurable impact on the lives of Jewish students across the country, and for years to come. Having most recently advocated for Jewish students in a national newspaper, Jack has led on several campaigns, ranging from opposing Islamophobia within our community to proactively campaigning within the Labour movement to ensure Jewish students, and more widely Jewish people, are made to feel welcome, including providing antisemitism awareness training for student Labour clubs. Specifically, he has held several positions on the Cambridge JSoc committee including President, Cantinee, External Affairs, and LGBT officer. Jack has also proposed multiple motions at several UJS conferences which have made Jewish student life more accessible and inclusive while committing UJS to proactively campaign on behalf of Jewish students. Without Jack Lubner’s tireless efforts to advocate on behalf of Jewish students throughout his time at university, Jewish student life would not be as we know it.
Event of the Year: Oxford JSoc Holocaust Memorial Day
Oxford JSoc managed to get the event held at the Sheldonian theatre - the most spectacular room in Oxford University. Against all expectations, with a lot of money on the line, almost all 750 seats were filled. It was an extraordinary event - Holocaust Survivor Janine Webber spoke so movingly to an audience mostly of students never having heard a testimony before. Jojo Sugarman introduced the survivor beautifully and chaired the Q&A which was very well done.
New JSoc of the Year: Cork JSoc & Royal Central School of Speech and Drama JSoc
In the almost 200 years since the founding of the University College of Cork, there has not been an official community of Jewish Students. Despite this, there has always been a thriving Jewish community in Cork and Ireland as a whole, though this was never represented in campus life.Ever since their first Sukkot event (involving thirty students in a Sukkah on campus) in October 2022, Cork JSoc has gone from one strength to the next. Starting from scratch, the committee has cultivated a sense of community among its members through events such as regular Erev Shabbat hangouts, paint nights, poetry nights, and parties for Hanukkah and Purim. In March 2023, after weeks of planning and rehearsals, members of the JSoc performed a Purim spiel to students and the wider Cork community, raising money and donations for a food bank. Cork is a shining example of the best of Jewish life on campus, engaging students and fostering community.
Emma and Laura have reignited the JSoc at RCSSD. They have made a welcoming space for all Jewish students at RCSSD, regardless of their beliefs, affiliations or connection to the religion. They have successfully run 6 events, including interfaith education, a Chanukah party, and a powerful Holocaust memorial day exhibition and collaborated with other JSocs. They have been vocal Jewish activists on campus and have managed to make antisemitism training mandatory for university staff and send a large delegation of SU staff to Poland on a Holocaust education trip. They have also held the first ever Friday Night dinner.
Maurice Helfgott Award for Leadership: Hannah Haskel, Cambridge JSoc
Hannah is passionate about being involved and cares about Jewish student life on campus. She has hasn't had the easiest time due to antisemitism but she has combatted and fought for what is right. Hannah has held several roles on Cambridge JSoc committee including President. Hannah was recently elected as an NUS delegate and represented Jewish students at the recent NUS conference. Without Hannah’s exemplary leadership, Jewish students would not have had such a prominent voice on the NUS conference floor. Hannah takes on leadership challenges and is a proud Jewish activist locally and nationally. Hannah is diligent, modest and decisive, ensuring that everything she has set her mind to is completed and completed to the most exceptional level possible, as a perfect example of what it means to support AND lead a Jewish student community.
Interfaith Project of the Year: Noah Getz, St Andrews JSoc
Noah introduced interfaith football league to St Andrews. He encourages all abilities to get involved and has organised space, kits and teams from all faith societies to create a popular and thriving league in town that plays every week. The league has created great interfaith connections and the players raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
Israel Engagement Initiative of the Year in Partnership with UJIA: Jacob Barnett, Leeds JSoc
Jacob is one of the most eager students when it comes to anything Israel. He's always up for a political conversation about the topic, and is never one to shy away from engaging with all the tough questions. Over the past year, Jacob helped facilitate the Israeli wine tasting night in Leeds, while going above and beyond in encouraging other JSocs to hold similar events. He was eager to help out at our Art Of Dialogue stall, highly engaged with the Yachad speaker event and deeply involved in discussions regarding Israel-diaspora relations in light of the Israeli election outcome and UJS's statement on the matter. Since running for Campaigns Officer two years ago, Jacob has become deeply knowledgeable and engaged with anything Israel-related on campus.
Campaign of the Year in Partnership with CST: #ScotlandRemembers, Glasgow JSoc
The #WeRememberScotland2023 campaign aimed to fill the gap in Scottish Holocaust remembrance by bringing together members of all current Scottish JSocs in Scotland. The campaign began online with individuals posting a picture of themselves holding a sign that said #WeRemember, then the campaign concluded in a national memorial in Edinburgh. Jewish students from across the region attended it, and it was streamed in Ireland. Furthermore, all current Members of the Scottish Parliament made a pledge online to commit themselves to the ideal ‘Never Again’. Finally, the campaign made it into the Scottish Parliament as a motion, that recognised our initiative and urged the members of the parliament to participate. Moreover, the motion recognised the rise of antisemitism and racism on University campuses.
Volunteer of the Year: Aaron Black, Leeds JSoc
Aaron has dedicated countless hours to the Year of Student Sport project, where he has managed to engage Jewish students through sport across the UK. He has given time for meetings with partners, sponsors, and fellow students, making all he speaks to about sports feel as if they are his number one priority. His project also highlights individuals who participate in sports (#jathletes) which he takes time to reach out to to make them feel included in the project.
Education Project of the Year: Ruby Kwartz, Birmingham JSoc
This year Birmingham hosted a Holocaust Memorial day event in a lecture theatre, which involved holocaust survivor Mindu Hornick speaking to Birmingham students. This event was open to all Birmingham students, not just the JSoc. The event was one of the first HMD events that the JSoc has done with the university for a long time, with over 200 students attending. Ruby should be recognised for their hard work in putting on this event that is different to what Birmingham JSoc usually offers.
JSoc of the Year: Edinburgh JSoc
It has been a year like never before for Edinburgh JSoc. They are one of the fastest growing JSocs in the UK, and this year's committee led by Louis Danker has had their calendar filled. Some highlights of the year so far include hosting a Rosh Hashana Dinner for 200 students, weekly bagel lunches, collaborating with ISoc for an Islamophobia and antisemitism awareness potluck dinner, organising an interfaith charity fair, which was nominated for a Mitzvah Day Award, running mental health awareness sessions with Jami, hosting a Holocaust Survivor, hosting the Scotland-wide FND, the first ever Pride FND, a collaboration with Edinburgh’s Feminist Society about experiences of women in Judaism, and the JSoc ball. Edinburgh JSoc also ran an anti-hate campaign in light of a controversial event on campus, made representations to the university which resulted in the reviewing of its policy for events and speakers, pushed successfully for the establishment of a faith and belief subcommittee within the university’s EDI structure, and hosted a number of events providing support and reassuring Jewish students through difficult times. Edinburgh JSoc is a place where students can be proud of their culture.
The full livestream from last night’s Student Awards can be viewed at https://fb.watch/k1SW1udirA/.