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December 2019 Newsletter
The end of another term!
 
Seasons change, and another end of term approaches. Its weird to think that the last time we sent a PJS newsletter it was coming up to the High Holy Days, and now we are well into the academic year. How has your term been so far? 

Its also been a crazy couple of months politically, with another election scheduled for 12th December, and the rhetoric around it being quite polarising at times. Rabbi Daniel Lichman gives his thoughts and tools in how to approach the emotions that are brought out from the election in this newsletter, and we've also included Reform Judaism's  own 'Election manifesto', discussing the issues that the movement cares about (without endorsing any particular party), so go give both a read!

And as winter festivities begin, be sure to update your preferences/address at the bottom of this email to receive our annual chanukah pack - last year we sent out all you needed to celebrate chanukah and this year we're giving a little something extra.. 

Good luck for the end of term, and see you soon!
Highlights From First Term:
Meeting Sixth Formers at FPS.
Rosh Hashana Meal with Edinburgh egal.
Our Progressive Birthright reunion.
Our Dine N Discuss with Manchester Jsoc.
Our time at UJS Summit - We met with 120 students from all over the UK, taught sessions on Martin Buber and about the Climate Crisis, and had an incredible shabbat. Well done to all the UJS staff members, now its your turn to head to the UJS conference and vote for your next president! Click here for more details
Election time!
Its election time (again) and it is an understandably intense time. Reform Judaism has created a manifesto looking at the movements perspective on the following issue: Climate Crisis, Homelessness, Israel-Palestine, Racism and Intolerance, Refugees, Democracy and Polarisation, LGBT+, Mental Health. The manifesto does not endorse any particular party or candidate, but merely discusses how the movement feels the above issues should be addressed. Take a read by clicking on the image below!
Reflections From Rabbi Daniel Lichman:
Rabbi Daniel Lichman 
A student recently got in touch with our little team at PJS to ask: what is the best way to explain to my non-Jewish flatmates why many in the Jewish community feel threatened by the idea of a Corbyn government? Another student told me how offensively insensitive she thought it was that she received a series of messages from a friend which defended against allegations of antisemitism without any acknowledgement of her experience as a Jewish person.

This time of the election can make it a confusing time to be a Jew on campus. On the one hand you might have read about the orthodox Chief Rabbi’s article condemning antisemitism in the Labour party and you are minded to heed his warning. On the other hand you might have read the posts and tweets of many Jews who do not agree and argue that the issue has been exaggerated by Tory-supporters. Perhaps you are convinced by wider Labour policy and so are not concerned by the antisemitism allegations. Or perhaps you are so concerned by them that no other factor can be more important in deciding how you vote. Surrounded by loud voices and other people who see things in a clear cut way, it might hard to know what you think.

At such confusing times it’s important to have some tools to help us navigate the confusion. I’d like to share two that have helped me. Perhaps they can help you too.

The first one of these is about thinking carefully about the lasting impact of Jewish history on me. After a recent JSoc Friday night meal, I asked a group of students to tell me about their thoughts and concerns brought up by the election and discussion of antisemitism. After a short while we found ourselves telling our own family stories of oppression, persecution, escape and survival and beginning to make connections between our perception of the current reality and the ways that our people’s collective inherited trauma impacts on how we perceive the contemporary moment. There is a spiritual task here that we are called on to do: that of discernment. How can we get to know our fear and come to discern those parts of the fear that are responses to the current reality and those parts that are re-triggered trauma from our people and our family’s pasts? I find the best way to do that is through allowing oneself to feel the fear and become curious about it. To talk about it and about the associated stories before even thinking of posting or tweeting anything. It’s a difficult task but one that can lead to the healing of wounds that you may not have even known that you carry.

The other thought on my mind is about my role as a Jew in the world. Our society is often unable to celebrate differences between people. Antisemitism is an example of this inability that particularly troubles us Jews. Sadly we know from history and from our contemporary moment that the hatred of those who are different from you is an ongoing feature of human societies that we Jews unfortunately know a lot about. Given this reality, we have the opportunity as Jews to use our position as people who have experienced hatred to challenge this whole situation of difference-leading-to-hatred. How do we do this? By standing alongside other communities. When our Muslim friends or the traveller community or citizens of EU countries speak of their fears we can reach out to them seeking to hear their stories and to tell our stories. Our experience can teach us to stand alongside others and invite them to stand alongside us.

Good luck in these confusing times. May you know that you are not confused on your own.

If you have any thoughts/questions arising from this post please email rabbidaniel@rjuk.org 
Save The Date!
Our infamous Jewish spirituality retreat 'Reconnect' is happening again! Come together with friends for a weekend of self-discovery, with the goal to restore and develop the elements of themselves that often become lost or pushed to the side over the academic year. Book your place now - Click here!
Keep the date in your diary - March 13th- 15th 2020
 
Chizuk (meaning emotional or spiritual support or encouragement) is our incredible leadership programme for students. As part of the programme we teach and support you in how to create your own Progressive Jewish student communities on campus. The programme has grants for personal developments, as well as grants to fund events on campus. If you are interested in getting involved for our 2020 cohort starting in January with an incredible retreat, email maya@pjsuk.org or apply now - click here!

'Leave uni, start work - make it happen!'  is on Wednesday 18th December at ORT House, 126 Albert Street, London, NW1 7NE at 6pm - 9pm and will consist of a series of interactive workshops on graduate employment related topics by a team of leading industry and recruitment experts. The sessions will include a mock assessment centre to give attendees the experience of this recruitment process, as well as covering topics such as how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, interview tips and also one to one CV clinics.

What is Progressive Jewish Students?
Progressive Jewish Students is a collaborative project between Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism. The goal is to create a space for all Progressive students, and those looking to learn more about what Progressive Judaism is. We invite all students to get involved, and we work closely with students of LJY- Netzer and RSY - Netzer.
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