Last week the Jewish News – in association with the Jewish Leadership Council – announced positions 25 to 11 in its list of 25 young movers and shakers under the age of 25 who are set to define Anglo-Jewry in the decades to come. Written by Gabriel Pogrund
After hundreds of nominations and months of intense debate, we conclude this intriguing process with a top 10.
Join the discussion! TWEET the Jewish News using the hashtag #25under25!
Yael is a firebrand liberation activist who works as President of the Students’ Union at the University of Sheffield.
While a graduate of JFS and the Zionist youth movement RSY-Netzer, she is far from an establishment figure, falling within the “Zi-curious” to anti-Zionist bracket on Israel matters and the hard left of student politics.
She fits comfortably into the Sheffield mould (the university is famed for its radical politics). Last year, Yael witnessed the ugly side of student activism when Israeli students complained about the ‘hostile and intimidating’ atmosphere on campus, but she diffused that situation adeptly. Her voice on inclusion is the most impactful of any in the Jewish student community.
She co-founded the UJS’ LGBT+ Students network, which creates safe and inclusive spaces for Jewish students, and is a key volunteer for Keshet UK, the Jewish LGBT+ forum.
Yael is also a Limmud veteran and recently fused two of her worlds by leading Keshet’s inclusivity training at the conference.
Joel is the second Jewish Free School alumnus and former head boy on this list.
His role as president of Birmingham J-Soc (2011-2012) was practically a full-time job: it is the largest Jewish society in the UK with 800 members, replete with banquet-sized Friday-night dinners and a football league.
During his tenure, Joel founded the Birmingham branch of Genesis. The Torah study and Jewish leadership group, which is increasingly ubiquitous in British J-Socs, later appointed him head representative of its students leaders’ programme, which takes hundreds of students to Israel and Poland every year.
Joel has hosted many guest rabbis on “lunch and learn” campus events and is a gifted Jewish educator and orator. The history graduate is speaking at an international Jewish student leaders conference in Jerusalem later with the likes of Rabbi Lau, Israel’s former Chief Rabbi, and Mark Regev, spokesperson for Bibi Netanyahu.
Joel now serves as operations director at Aish UK, which, having merged with Genesis, has a monopoly on Jewish life for Orthodox students in Britain.
Noah cut his teeth in communal representation heading up the Jewish Society at City of London School, paving the way toward a two-year presidency of the Jewish Society at Imperial University where, despite anaemic campus engagement and a low number of Jewish students, he built a thriving community and raised money for an interfaith Holocaust project.
The former-B’nei Akiva madrich scooped the award for J-Soc of the Year for his efforts (2012 -2013), undoing the stranglehold of Britain’s traditional “Jewniversities”, and established the trailblazing Shabbat Project, giving less-involved Jewish students a Friday-night experience on campus.
The project widened its scope and now includes a student housing programme and young professionals’ network.
In 2014, Noah won the UJS Social Action Award for organising a UK-wide food drive for homeless shelters and also co-founded #Rethink2014.
As co-founder of a funding circle for Jewish student projects, Noah’s involvement as an organiser shows no signs of abating. He is a technology business analyst at JP Morgan.
Gabriel knows how to make his case: he was voted The Guardian runner-up student journalist of the year and scooped the award for best blogger.
The LJY-Netzer movement worker puts his rhetorical skills to effect as well. He rallied for Yachad’s inclusion at the Board of Deputies last year and successfully opposed a BDS-motion at the University of Sussex.
Gabriel remains uncompromising in his liberal Zionism, although his activism with Yachad has resulted in contrition [and even abuse] from fringe elements of the right-wing of the Jewish community.
The politics and international relations graduate is known for his unusual love of “procedure”. He served as electoral returning officer for the Sussex student union and has represented both UJS and Liberal Judaism at the Board.
Liberal Judaism chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich describes Webber as “an unapologetic Liberal Jew who will inspire individuals and a community with reasons to be and do Jewish”.
Louis Trup is the essential BJOC or “Big Jew on Campus”. The former-JFS head boy ran a highly successful joke campaign for presidency at the Oxford University student union and co-presents a radio show, JewkBoxOx, which exports North London Yiddishkeit to Jewish and non-Jewish students alike every week.
Alongside (and in part owing to) his eccentricity, he is also a remarkably successful student politician.
Trup has shaken up the notoriously dry union, implemented a new sexual harassment policy, and expanded the living wage to all employees at Oxford.
The Geography graduate might have been mazkir of B’nei Brith Youth Organisation if he had not been elected (he is jokingly referred to as “Mazkir of Oxford”), but remains dedicated to Jewish life at university and beyond.
He has represented Jewish students at the National Union of Students and is a Limmud regular. Of all the names on the list Louis, while retaining his Jewish roots, may be the most likely to have national impact in the future.
Maggie has led the Union of Jewish Students through one of its most challenging periods. Becoming campaigns officer in September 2013, she faced the increasingly widespread challenge of anti-Israel “BDS” legislation and, last year, the fallout of Operation Protective Edge.
Well versed in student politics, and a former activist in the Israel-Palestine forum, Maggie helped to ensure last year was not the annus horribilis it could have been. The English Literature graduate founded Jewish Experience Week, the UJS’ biggest campaign for years, successfully engaging thousands of non-Jews with Jewish life on campus.
This year she initiated a programme in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust, taking non-Jewish Students Union officers and student faith leaders to Auschwitz.
She crafted a behind-the-scenes ‘head of staff’ role at the union and bolstered the impact of presidents Joe Tarsh (2013-14) and Ella Rose.
Board of Deputies vice president Jonathan Arkush says Maggie has “helped the advancement of young Jewish activists”.
President-elect of the Union of Jewish Students, Hannah has as fine a pedigree as any student politician in Britain.
A “quiet revolutionary” and liberation activist, she established the UJS Disabled Students Network while at Kings College London and worked with the National Union of Students on Jewish issues.
Last year, she led opposition to BDS motions at the London university and co-founded #Rethink2014, which offered a nuanced response to anti-Israel hostility on campus. Rethink remains the community’s most successful social-media campaign to date.
The history graduate, who hails from Newcastle, is now researching Israeli gender politics at UCL, and remains steeped in youth work, both as director of leadership of HaNoar HaTzioni and a key organiser for Young Limmud.
Hannah has a knack for reaching beyond her natural constituency.
She runs Holocaust seminars for children at non-Jewish schools and as a prominent member of London’s egalitarian student minyan, is committed to working with Jews across the political and religious spectrum.
Jay positioned himself at the heart of student life at the London School of Economics during its most turbulent and transitory year for decades, serving as the university union’s general secretary from 2013-2014.
During that time he negotiated a national media storm involving Richard Dawkins [who called Jay a ‘sanctimonious little prig’] when Atheist Society activists were asked to remove offensive T-shirts depicting the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus at a university fair, and oversaw the union’s smooth relocation to a new site.
The history and politics graduate served as president of J-Soc at the same time. Having developed a reputation as ‘one of the most assured student officers within our community’, Jay was uniquely well placed to take up his role as public relations director at the Jewish Leadership Council upon graduating.
The former Habonim madrich from Manchester juggles that job with a part-time degree at BPP Law School and his role at the London Jewish Forum, directing strategic engagement with the General Election and the 2016 Mayoral Election.
Deborah studied medicine for three years at University College London but performed a spectacular career change aged 21, hanging up her scrubs to head Jeneration, the Reform students and young adults organisation.
The RSY-Netzer graduate is currently studying for a Masters in Education and Technology at the Institute of Education.
She is endlessly engaged with the challenge of bringing Jewish education into the 21st century and using technology to make Jewish text study more accessible. Deborah works as the young persons’ community educator at Finchley Reform Synagogue, where she is mentored by Rabbi Miriam Berger and Cantor Zoe Jacobs.
Deborah is programming co-chair of Limmud Conference and also sits on the executive of the World Reform Zionist Organisation. A former colleague at the Reform movement jokes that she assumed the industrious Deborah was “a robot” when they worked together “because she achieved so much”.
There is little doubt she is set for the Reform rabbinate and will shape British-Jewry through that community.
Ella is the first UJS president from the University of Nottingham, the definitive “Jewniversity”, where she served as campaigns officer.
In winter 2013. She ran for presidency on a ticket for cross-communal inclusion on campus and beyond, supporting liberal Zionist organisation Yachad’s successful bid to join the Board of Deputies on the same grounds shortly after being elected.
Ella’s mettle was tested from the off: the first full two months of her tenure coincided with Operation Protective Edge and all the distress it entailed for Jewish students in Britain.
She weathered that storm capably and subsequently organised the biggest UJS conference in seven years. Since then, Ella has committed herself to expanding the union’s portfolio of programmes for youth leaders and developing a network for Jewish students studying abroad.
The history and politics graduate remains zealous about representing Jewish students in their full and diverse complement and is guided by a belief that the country’s 8,500 Jewish students should be ‘unified, not uniform’.
An articulate communicator, she has won plaudits from within and outside the community.
David Cameron was notably impressed by her visit to Number 10, while Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman describes Ella as having left a “considerable footprint” on Jewish life in Britain.