For me, connecting with other Jewish students has always been at the center of my Jewish experiences. Having the chance to engage in spaces where Judaism transcends linguistic and regional barriers is amazing.
Last week, Nina and I spent 5 days in Rome at Summer U with the European Union of Jewish Students. Although all the participants were from different countries, we were able to connect with each other over shared experiences. Jewish students around the world face myriad struggles and challenges, but Summer U allowed us the opportunity to build bridges with each other.
The experience we had was more than just social, however. We attended a variety of different sessions, covering a range of topics such as ‘The Art of the Pitch’, where we learned about how to effectively pitch projects. We also had discussions about ‘are Jews white’, antisemitism at the UN, and conflict resolution. The conversations that these sessions sparked helped us learn about other’s experiences in countries that have developing Unions, and how Jewish identity differs across Europe.
We also had the chance meet with several high-profile speakers, including Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU Commissioner on Antisemitism. We also got to meet with representatives of different national Jewish student’s unions, the World Zionist Organization, and the World Jewish Congress. Meeting with such high profile speakers allowed us the chance to reflect on the political landscape across the world, and how UJS’ work fits into it.
EUJS’s General Assembly also took place over the course of the week. We got to discuss and debate new policies, elect a new president and board, and meet with leaders of other Jewish Student’s Unions. UJS President Nina also got the chance to sit on a panel with other Union Presidents, discussing different Jewish experiences.
Overall, attending Summer U was an incredible experience. The opportunities that we had to create bonds with students from other countries, speak with organizations and politicians, and engage with EUJS will help shape our work for the upcoming year.