OPINION – #UJSElects: Let’s create spaces that work for students

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OPINION – #UJSElects: Let’s create spaces that work for students

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

Esther Offenberg
Esther Offenberg

Having grown up in an Israeli-German house and community my whole life, I was apprehensive when I turned up for my first JSoc event. Since that first Friday Night Dinner, I have been on JSoc committee, NUS delegate and elected to NUS DPC proudly representing Jewish students and being heavily involved with UJS events and campaigns. These experiences have shaped me in ways I would have never imagined and allowed me to be an instrumental part of the Jewish life at my university and beyond. However, there is not one default path everyone follows for their level of Jewish involvement at university and that is what UJS is here for.

It’s about making UJS appealing to as many Jewish students as possible in as many ways as possible. UJS is already doing a great job at providing for the multi-faceted nature of Jewish student life on and off campus, and I want to continue this growth and push our union even further by introducing new initiatives. Every student is unique, faces their own challenges and has their own interests and needs. So let’s offer actual practical solutions and ideas so that when they come across UJS for the first time, whether that is in sixth form, or only in second year when they decide to try out their JSoc’s Friday Night Dinner, they will see that just as they are so beautifully faceted, so is the Union that is there for them.

Cross-communalism, that magical word that makes everyone stop in their tracks the minute they get a waft of it, comes in so many shapes and sizes for our members. Whether that is cross-denominational, the political melting pot of views and opinions that is a university campus or those international students who discovered JSoc for themselves and now want to make their mark. Students should never feel limited by some arbitrary labels or feel they have to confine their involvement to a specific area because they don’t see themselves represented somewhere else. UJS is here for you and wants you to get involved. Because the only way our union works and will continue to thrive is through its Jewish students – it’s in the title! So let’s create spaces that work for our members rather than making members work for their spaces.

I want to showcase that by highlighting themes that I know a lot of students care about and bringing those to the forefront of UJS’ focus for the coming year.

Students have said they want to network and connect with their regional JSoc neighbours more, have a greater emphasis on Holocaust education or receive activism training to combat antisemitism on their campus – so that is what we shall do! Jewish students should always feel empowered and be in a place that they can be pro-active rather than re-active, and as President I want to provide them with all the tools and opportunities that they deserve.

Watch my campaign to find out more and remember #thefutureisbright #thefutureisOffenberg


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