OPINION – #UJSElects: Despite differences – chicken soup can unite us all
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OPINION – #UJSElects: Despite differences – chicken soup can unite us all

Lauren Keiles, who is running to be the next president of the Union of Jewish Students, tells us her vision if she were to win

Lauren Keiles
Lauren Keiles

My time on campus has been shaped by my intra and inter faith work based on my Jewish values. I have been named one of  ‘21 faith leaders for the 21st century’ with my efforts recognised by the Prime Minister.

The Jewish students I’ve met worldwide have inspired and empowered me. My goal is to make UJS more inclusive, united, and focused on the grassroots – our members. Through UJS, I’ve had Friday Night Dinners in Accra (Ghana), New York, and Jerusalem. Despite differences in language, denomination and politics, chicken soup has the power to unite us all.

J-Soc is about more than just a kosher meal, it’s a cross-communal family away from home. Our upbringings may differ; from our youth movements and causes we champion to different religious and cultural traditions. But when it comes to our safety and fighting the delegitimisation of Israel on campus we stand stronger together, creating thriving communities supported by UJS.

These spaces are at the centre of many of our lives on campus. However, we must not get complacent. As a Progressive Jew I felt the need to take leadership roles on my J-Soc committee, my Students’ Union (as Faith rep), the Board of Deputies and on the National Council and Trustee Board of UJS.  Standing up for Jewish students is at the core of everything I do, and this passion has taken me to conferences in America (AJC and WJC) and to the World Zionist Organisation in Israel.

UJS should be relevant to all Jewish students. We must prioritise our students’ mental health all year round and offer tailored support to each one of our 60 unique Jewish Societies. We will connect students to alumni and communities worldwide, and we will support Jewish students to campaign on issues they care about.

We all have the right to be proud and open about our Judaism without fear. I’ll make sure we campaign for Unions and Universities to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and to empower Jewish activists on campus to be at the forefront of running grassroots Israel campaigns.

UJS should be adding to the lives of each and every Jewish student, and value the contributions of every activist, volunteer and committee member. I will make sure that UJS is the place for you. Whether you’re after a shiur, a schmooze or shots, ‘Let’s Make it Lauren’ for UJS President!

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