Last night, the 16th of April, we hosted our annual UJS Student awards where over 120 students, partners and community came together to celebrate everything that was achieved on campus over the last year. We received almost 100 nominations, and we were proud to see our campus leaders come together for this special evening to acknowledge the amazing work they have done.
Yesterday evening was hosted in the Jewish Museum in Camden, where attendees had the opportunity to explore the exhibitions before the event started. First year students,UJS alumni, NUS Staff members, as well as representatives of CST, UJIA, the Alan Senitt Memorial Trust, Jewish Chaplaincy, Progressive Jewish Students, Marom, The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies all joined together to celebrate the fantastic work of Jewish students on campus.
We whittled down the nominations to a shortlist for each of the 10 awards, and we are proud of all of the students shortlisted who have made incredible contributions to their universities and student life on campus. We were also honored to host the Joy Cohen family to give out The Joy Cohen award for Outstanding Leadership by a Young Woman in partnership with UJIA. The winners are:
- Education Project of the year (in honour of Fred Worms OBE): Louise Aron, Leeds J-Soc
- Social Action Project of the year: Sara Felberg, Leeds J-Soc
- The Joy Cohen award for Outstanding Leadership by a Young woman (UJIA): Ayelet Besso-Cowen
- Interfaith Project of the Year: Greta Grossman and Isabelle Tarsh, Durham J-Soc, and Lauren Keiles and Sally Patterson, Leeds and Bristol J-Soc
- Liberation Activist of the year: Emma Jacobs, Leeds J-Soc
- Israel Engagement Initiative of the Year in Partnership with the UJIA: Zak Wagman, Warwick JISOC
- Campaign of the Year in Partnership with CST: Essex J-Soc
- Event of the Year: Tory Selwyn, UEA J-Soc
- Emerging student leader of the Year: Dominic Casoria, Lancaster J-Soc
- J-Soc of the Year: Sheffield J-Soc
- Alan Senitt Outstanding contribution to Campus Life Award: Daniel Voignac, Imperial Israel Society
Here is a little bit more information about some of the winners...
Louise Aron won the Education Project of the Year award for creating a regular mental health initiative in Leeds. This is the first peer-led mental health support initiative at a university, offering support and a space for students to meet regularly, ensuring the conversation about mental health becomes more open.
Sara Felberg was awarded the Social Action Project of the Year award for setting up a donation point at the Leeds Hillel house to collect sanitary products to donate to a local Leeds charity. Sara is passionate about fighting period poverty and has also created a national campaign together with UJS surrounding International Women’s Day to continue collecting and donating to local period poverty charities.
Ayelet Besso-Cowen won the Joy Cohen award for Outstanding Leadership by a Young woman (UJIA). Ayelet is one of the youth Directors in her synagogue in London, where her role is to proactively encourage girls to come to shul on Shabbat and participate in voluntary activities during the week. She has rejuvenated Friday night activities for youth in the shul, bringing in a wide range of exciting guest speakers. She is in her final year of studying at City University to be a paediatric nurse and is active in the student community. She has volunteered at SAGE Nursing Home, Camp Simcha, Tzedek, Tribe and mentors three first-year nursing students.
The Interfaith Project of the Year Award was a joint win by Greta Grossman and Isabelle Tarsh from Durham J-Soc together with Sally Patterson (Bristol) and Lauren Keiles (Leeds). Greta and Isabelle worked with the Durham Interfaith Forum, organising a full programme for National Interfaith week and carried on their work with more events throughout the year. Sally organised a Jewish and Muslim women’s conference in Bristol, funded by the World Jewish Congress. Lauren spoke at the conference amongst others on panels.
Emma Jacobs won the Liberation activist of the year award to acknowledge the great work she has been doing on her campus for LGBT+ and women students. She with passed a motion at UJS conference mandating UJS to have a block at London pride and she has worked with the Leeds J-Soc to encourage students to attend Priday night dinner, Pride with Keshet, UJS Liberation Conference and more.
The Israel Engagement Initiative of the Year was awarded to Zak Wagman, from Warwick Jewish and Israel Society. They have been running multiple educational events throughout the year which saw packed lecture theatres, hosting speakers such as Gil Troy, Lian Najami, Marlon Solomon and more. To ensure there is an event for everyone, they have also been hosting social events such as Shakshuka cooking classes and debates around various topics.
Essex J-Soc won the Campaign of the Year award in partnership with CST, recognising their very public campaign and hard work in setting up a J-Soc at their University. Their first event saw a great turnout and the committee have worked hard to ensure there are regular events.
This year's Emerging Student Leader is Dominic Casoria from Lancaster J-Soc. Shortly after starting at Lancaster, he became an active member of the J-Soc and soon took on the position of campaigns officer, helped to fundraise £3000 to renovate their kosher kitchen, and has run for Block of 15 at the National Union of Students. He is an activist for Jewish and LGBT+ issues and has shown great leadership qualities over this past year.
Sheffield J-Soc won the J-Soc of the year award recognising their hard work in putting on regular events, increasing their attendance, as well as hosting Friday Night Dinnerstogether with other societies. They filled auditoriums with hundreds of students for different events, by hosting a Holocaust Survivor and Marlon Solomon, and have publicly fought antisemitic speakers coming onto their campus.
The Alan Senitt Outstanding Contribution to Campus Life award was won by Daniel Voignac, recognising his work in the Imperial Israel society, and mainly for founding the 'tech trips' to Israel. He raised over £150,000 over three years, to take students to Israel who love technology. He also organised an internship programme taking 30 trip graduates to Israel for 8 weeks.
Thank you again to all the students who attended and made this evening so special. The UJS team could not be prouder to watch our students achieve amazing things on and off their campuses, we honestly shlep nachas all day!
Don't forget to follow us on Facebook to find the official Photos of last night soon!