Empowering Jewish life on campus is at the core of my identity

Every J-Soc has a facebook group, and I get the pleasure (and pain of hundreds of Facebook notifications) as a Presidential Candidate, of being in all of them. Last week I received countless invites to Friday Night Dinners, educational speakers, social action events and more.

As I sat down for Shabbat dinner in Birmingham, I knew that Jewish students in more than 30 other cities were doing the same, and I was reminded of the phrase that Alan Senitt (z”l) coined in his two years as UJS President: “more Jewish students doing more Jewish things.” That young Jewish people leave their homes, want to create Jewish lives for themselves and others, and work so hard to do so, is a testament to the strength of our Jewish identity as a community.

UJS is a vibrant and vital organisation, and its meaning for me goes so much deeper than just a political ideology or the few policies that a Presidential candidate puts forward; it is the essence and the future of Jewish life in the UK.

I grew up in BBYO, and it is where I developed the bulk of my Jewish identity. Its core ideologies; pluralism, activism, Zionism, Judaism and peer-leadership are inextricably linked to my understanding of my Judaism. When students question why we should stand up for people from minority identities, I have learnt that it’s not about politics, it’s our collective responsibility as Jewish people.

When we think about cross-communalism, we should unequivocally say that community is enhanced by different expressions of Judaism, not burdened by it. There is a reason why my campaign focuses on tangible and achievable policies; we are nothing without transformative activism. We are strongest when we are together.


Our union is powerful. That’s one thing I’ve learnt in my four years within UJS. Be that from campaigning on my campus with my J-Soc against divisive boycott motions, or standing with Jewish students across the country at NUS conferences against leadership who consistently spouted antisemitic rhetoric.

I was lucky to be able to get involved in UJS before I’d even stepped foot on my campus. I know what we can achieve when we are united, when we have leadership willing and able to reach out to all Jewish students.

That’s the sort of UJS President I want to be. One that knows and embodies all four core values of UJS, on campus, in our community, and in the wider student movement.

So when I say this campaign isn’t about me or my politics, I really mean it. I’m not here because it seems like a good job, or because it may be a good stepping stone for whatever I may do next. I’m here because facilitating and empowering Jewish life on campus is at the core of my identity as a young Jewish person.

And in order to continue growing in strength, and deliver, as Alan Senitt said, more Jewish things, we need to embody Jo Cox’s immortal words, and embed it into the heart of everything we do.

About the Author
Hannah is the current president of the Union of Jewish Students
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