An Orthodox Jewish student at Cambridge has been elected president of the prestigious university’s 200-year old debating Union, saying his experience of Friday night dinners helped.
Joel Rosen, a history student at Trinity Hall college, was described as “probably the first kippah-wearing student” elected to lead the historic society, whose past presidents have often gone on to hold national leadership roles.
“I am humbled by and grateful for the support,” he said. “I grew up surrounded by lively discussions around the Friday night dinner table, and a privilege of my University experience has been continuing that tradition.”
He said the free speech Union had given him the chance to hear from some of the most thought-provoking voices from the Jewish community, citing American writer Bari Weiss to Labour MP Margaret Hodge as two.
“I’ll never forget interviewing [TV judge] Robert Rinder and hearing him recall saying Kaddish in Treblinka next to his mother and Leon Ritz the last living survivor of that camp left – it left an indelible mark on me.”
We have many stirring events in the pipeline at the Union from nuanced conversations about the Middle East to talks and performances by some familiar yet surprising political and cultural figures.
Rosen was previously the Union’s speakers officer and in that role interviewed Rinder as well as Jameela Jamil, Eddie Hearn and Julia Gillard and secured debate speakers such as Omarosa and Jacob Rees Mogg.
His family attend the Machzikei Hadas shul in Golders Green and he has been leading the successful campaign for Cambridge university to adopt and implement the International Holocaust Remembrance Allance (IHRA) definition as external officer of the Jewish Society. He attended Hasmonean and City of London Schools.
Rosen will serve as president during the Easter term, as a friend said: “He has done so much for the Jewish community at Cambridge and doesn’t seek credit.”
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