by Daisy Bogod
Whether intentional or not, the response to the frequently-asked question, “what’s it like for Jewish students on campus?” is usually a flat denial of the existence of any anti-Semitism.
While this is important, the Jewish community is neglecting an equally large issue facing students today. The question: “What’s it like for Progressive Jewish students on campus?”
In my experience, not good – and that’s coming from someone who went to one of the UK’s six ‘Jewniversities’.
My Judaism is a massive part of my identity. Leaving my youth movement and other familiar Jewish spaces was, I thought, going to be the hardest adjustment. I found my JSoc was reserved for the Orthodox version of Judaism. It was unwelcoming for those who didn’t come from the accepted social or religious backgrounds. However nice individuals may have been, JSoc rejected me both institutionally and personally.
I am not less religious than someone just because I don’t practice Orthodox Judaism. I am a passionate, dedicated Liberal Jew and I wanted the opportunity to celebrate festivals, read from the Torah and engage in religious and moral debates.
Although I ran and participated in an egalitarian minyan, filled with wonderful people with shared values, it was unable to provide me with the Jewish life I wanted to lead.
I left university in my second year for many reasons, but it would be pointless to pretend that the lack of a welcoming, supportive and engaging Jewish community wasn’t a small part of my decision.
Progressive Jews shouldn’t be excluded on campus because of the Judaism we practice. We should be welcomed, simply because we are Jewish.
- Daisy Bogod is an LJY-Netzer leader