It is often said that our youth is the future of our community. We are told that developing as leaders, finding our causes and forging relationships will set us on a good course for the future, so that one day we can play our part in developing the next generation.
However, the story I see on campus having travelled around the country to over 20 campuses last year is very different. We don’t see why we should wait to lead tomorrow, when we can lead today. We already have our causes, and never hesitate to make our voices heard and make an impact on the world around us. We learn from each other, and lead each other. We are not only the future of our community, but the vibrant, diverse and powerful present.
It was this realisation that led me to run for UJS President 7 months ago, and will form the core of my mission this year. By talking to students throughout my campaign and my time at university, we’ve collectively developed a strategy that will aim to reach out an ever increasing diversity of students. We’ll be working through different expressions of Judaism, talking to students from the whole spectrum of political beliefs, and will cater for a diversity of interests and ages. What strengthens you, as students and leaders, strengthens us all as a union.
Most importantly, this year we’ll be tackling the issues that affect you most in your daily life. Students across the country say that they need more mental health support, and as your union we need to be there for you. We’ll be working with community partners to deliver this for you. This year, UJS will be there for Jewish students celebrating the good and standing by your side during the more challenging times.
As many young Jewish women, I have a Hadaya ring that I never take off. On it is inscribed a quote from the inspirational Elie Weisel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner. In English, it reads: ‘There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes even if you lose you win.’ Over the next year, we may not win every battle; not every J-Soc election can be won by everyone, not every student will agree on every campaign, and sometimes, there may not even be chicken soup at FND. But as long as we learn from these experiences together and use them to grow as partners and leaders, Jewish students have an incredibly bright future, and indeed a bright present too.
I cannot wait to see you all on campus!