If we can’t be comfortable with Jewish identity on campus, who will be?

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If we can’t be comfortable with Jewish identity on campus, who will be?

Being Jewish at Warwick University is easy, writes European Law student Jordan Jacobs.

josh jacobs
Jordan Jacobs

I get a weekly fix of bagels, and I can count on a hearty Friday Night Dinner. In addition, it’s a quick journey to Birmingham, making it easy to interact with their J-Soc; there’s no excuse to miss a major event.

People have always been accepting of my Jewishness, and in many cases people are interested in finding out more about it. I have not faced any anti-Semitism from anyone affiliated with the university, nor is there a hostile atmosphere towards Israel.

These circumstances have permitted me to be open about being Jewish. I wear a Star of David, I openly talk about travelling to Israel, and I am comfortable talking about all-things Jewish.

With help from UJS, I organised a talk by Ethiopian-Israeli Jews for Jewish Experience Week (J.E.W). The turnout wasn’t exceptional, but it was more than adequate. Participants were engaged in the discussion. We even had representatives from other faith societies. The event was undoubtedly a success.

Nevertheless, with the widespread success of J.E.W throughout campuses across the country, it is now time to focus our energy in preserving and enhancing the positivity surrounding our Jewish identity, and be open with it during our day to day activity.

Indeed, one Jewish American student told me that as soon as she arrived in Britain, she noticed a profound difference in the attitude of British Jewry to that of Jewish America; Jews in this country are far more likely to hide their Jewish identity.

This is a great shame. What do we have to hide as Jews? I have lost count of the number of times I have heard ‘don’t write that you are Jewish on your application forms – you might not get the job because of anti-Semitism.’ My response is usually in the form of a question – ‘what will people think when they learn that Jews are hiding their identity?’ I believe it shows a lack of self-respect. It shows that Jews are ashamed of their Jewishness. If Jews themselves cannot be comfortable with the Jewish identity and culture, who will be?

Jewish Experience Week has set the foundations, and it is now time to build. Let’s be open about our Jewishness. That way we can face up to the challenges of anti-Semitism by drawing on pride in our history, our music, and our bagels.

Let’s use our chutzpah to showcase to Britain what it means to be Jewish – part of a community containing a diverse range of people, with an even more diverse range of opinions, united by a deep sense of belonging, and a shared heritage.

How do we achieve this? Along with fantastic campaigns such as J.E.W, I personally believe that we can start by emphasising the role of the individual. For starters, I know that when I apply for summer internships, I won’t hesitate to write that I am involved heavily in the Jewish Society. Will you?

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