By Elliot Zelmanovits, a second year English Language and Literature at the University of Leeds. 

Elliot

Elliot

Every year is the same. Apple. Honey. Shofar. Shul. Repentance. Forgiveness. And every year it beguiles us how it’s already that time of year again.

How it is that Jewish mums across the community will have to, yet again, think of more creative ways of incorporating honey into their cooking – outshining the neighbours is a priority. Honey glazed haddock? Duck with honey and fig stuffing? The list goes on.

This year, however, I’m contemplating something different.

Being the son of a Hungarian refugee, I’ve always tried my hardest never to take for granted the importance of family, friends and a good education.

Growing up, I’d hear countless, but fascinating, stories of how my father, a mere 8 year old, would listen to the roaring tanks of the Soviet Union outside the apartment block where he grew up in Budapest, whilst my grandma, who worked in a restaurant kitchen, would bring back leftovers to make chicken soup for Friday night dinner.

So this year, before I decide which suit to wear for shul or whose house to eat at, I’ll be taking a minute to consider my own life and the opportunities and experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to have already – something that my father perhaps could not have done in the midst of a revolution.

5774 was a pretty lucky year for me.

During the summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to and experience life in some of Europe’s most diverse and unique Jewish communities.

From the Liberal Jewish community of Stockholm to the simply bellissimo Great Synagogue of Roma, it was remarkable, if not rather surprising, to see Jewish people inhabit other urban areas outside the confines of North-West London and its environs.

Of course the biggest problem is that whilst these communities exist, many individuals still live in the ugly shadows of both 1930’s-esque discrimination and New-Age political anti-Semitism.

Those who know me well will know the special connection I have to the French capital.

Having visited Paris many times, I decided to make a solo trip this summer. Yet within minutes of arriving at Gare du Nord, I came face to face with a very large, angry crowd of anti-Israel protesters, quite unlike anything seen on the streets of London.

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France experienced violent riots in the wake of the Gaza conflict, including anti-Semitic attacks on Synagogues and Jewish businesses (From twitter)

Of course one cannot overlook instances of discrimination in the UK, but when I hear of people making Aliyah in such vast numbers because they fear the day the authorities ask them to leave, I can’t help but feel grateful that I and so very few people I know feel this way towards their general security.

Back on campus and the new year also brings the new term and with it feelings of luck and optimism.

Leeds JSoc President and fellow housemate, Max Sherrard says: ‘We’re really lucky to have some amazing speakers coming to Leeds this semester’.

Whilst Campaigns Officers Liron Velleman and Emma Fox say: ‘We’re lucky to be able to be proudly Jewish and Zionist and will continue to be so this year regardless of what goes on in international communities’.

Second year Broadcast Journalism student, Liv Marks says she’s: ‘lucky to be living with mates; new house new start’.

Whilst Boaz Goldwater says he’s: ‘lucky to be around so many wonderful freshers’.

Let’s hope 5775 is lucky for us all.

He tweets here: @ElliotZee