The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) is excited to announce the candidates running for Board and Treasurer for the 2021-2023 term. The candidates are Naomi Bennet (Germany), Thomas Fodor (Austria), Daria Goldenberg (Latvia / Romania), Sacha Guttmann (Belgium), Yana Naftalieva (Russia), Camila Piastro (Spain), Eryn Sarkin (Portugal), Ilan Selby (Switzerland / UK), Olaf Stando (UK / Sweden / Poland) and Máté Zsédely-Holler (Hungary) for Board, and Micol Di Gioacchino (Italy) for Treasurer.
Find their Manifestos (in alphabetical order) below:
Naomi Bennet (Germany)
Hey! My name is Naomi: I'm a loud, proud Jew. If you elect me to EUJS board, I will focus on:
1) Advocating for You
I've advocated for Jewish communities since my Bat Mitzvah. In Cologne, I played an active role in community events for all age groups. I educated young Jews from throughout Europe as a Madricha and as a EUJS Ambassador I spoke at the UN. For two years, I've been on the board of the Jewish Student Union in Baden (BJSB) and I work with the JSUD. I will listen to your concerns and work tirelessly to revive Jewish community life after Corona through close cooperation with the national unions.
2) Fostering Jewish Pride
Growing up modern orthodox, I've always been immersed in Torah and Jewish values. The Talmud's diverse opinions were my gateway to activism. Yet we Jews in Europe are under threat, unable to fully express our identity. Fostering Jewish pride must be a priority. We will empower you to define yourself on your own terms. I support the whole spectrum of Jewish religious and secular-cultural practices and will bring a Torah perspective to the board while supporting Jewish pluralism.
3) Building Resilience
I'm from Jerusalem, so Jewish life is a given for me. Yet hiding in bomb shelters showed me the threats Jews face and taught me resilience. Anti-Zionism and antisemitism cloaked in criticism of Israel is a daily reality for us. We must strengthen each other against hate on campuses by acknowledging all forms of antisemitism: from the right, the left, Islam, and even our European and international institutions. Through Jewish and interfaith initiatives, we can overcome the problems of today and tomorrow.
4) Embracing Europe
As a German, Europe is my home. Despite the horrors Jews have experienced here, it has been a home to flourishing Jewish civilizations for millenia. I've traveled throughout Europe to Jewish seminars and witnessed our diversity and spirit. Every European Jewish community matters. I unequivocally support the European project and condemn all anti-democratic movements. We and our non-Jewish allies must raise our voices to protect European progress.
5) Empowering all Voices
I'm an unapologetic feminist committed to equal rights and the women's empowerment. I founded the first German-language, Jewish-feminist initiative on Instagram, @zelophchads_toechter, and have spoken in forums about women's issues in Judaism. The EUJS must emphatically support Jewish women and the cause of women's rights. Women and other marginalized groups within the Jewish community must be heard and better represented.
6) Supporting the Arts and Culture
Judaism is a culture full of beautiful music, poetry, and art. As a singer-songwriter, I view Jewish culture as a means of empowering ourselves and showing the non-Jewish world a side of us not defined by antisemitism. The EUJS must strive to support student cultural initiatives and the expression of our diverse identities.
Thanks for engaging with my ideas! Please reach out to me on Instagram (@nomi_shira) with your thoughts and questions. See you in Rome at SummerU!
Thomas Fodor (Austria)
My motivation to join the EUJS board was sparked in 2018, when I decided to move to the Netherlands to study, and was therefore not able to join the board of the JöH, my home student union which had a huge impact on me, I started eyeing EUJS. Upon arrival in Maastricht, I realised I was really lucky with the JöH in Vienna, where a thriving student union was the perfect environment for me to get to know interesting jewish students at all sorts of events and engage in political discourse and be part of the activism so important to keep our community safe and spread awareness of the threat of antisemitism. In Maastricht, we managed to increase the amount of events and general community feeling among jewish students, and we are working hard to keep it up despite cover restrictions. Seeing the differences between student unions, and how spoilt I was with having the JöH as my union (it is perfect), I would like everyone to be able to experience this type of jewish student life, and by being at EUJS, I think I could help with ideas from home, and hold the connection to Vienna upright. Since I am fortunate enough to live an hour away from Brussels, I can to join in person board meetings, which I find very important for a real connection to the union.
Another reason for my interest in joining the EUJS board is how I feel like a European citizen, which was enhanced even more not just by moving to the Netherlands, but also with the EU activism seminar by EUJS in 2020 and seeing the huge effort to hold the EU together in Brussels at the EU Parliament. Likewise, EUJS is trying to connect jewish students and hold them together, in community and in solidarity with one another, not just against antisemitism, but against issues faced in the individual countries. This is something I want to be a part of, and work on making it better.
My political interest is a major reason for me to join EUJS. I have been going to protests ever since I was young, when I started going to demonstrations with the Hashomer Hatzair, which I was a member of (and always will be). Fighting injustice is the most important thing to me. Central in this is the fight against antisemitism. Starting with my personal experiences in high school to the newly aggravated antisemitism in Europe due to the Middle East Conflict, which we all felt so personally and was so disconcerting, even scary.
Here I believe the central position that EUJS has as a representative of all jewish students in Europe is pivotal in this struggle and needs to be upheld, the connection to MEPs being of great importance here.
Daria Goldenberg (Latvia / Romania)
Hello, my name is Daria Goldenberg, this year I will start studying International Relations and Organisations at Leiden University and I am running for a position on the EUJS 2021 Board! I have lived most of my life in Romania, a country with a small community, and in the last 4 years I have been engaged in activism, fighting for causes that I believe in. My journey with EUJS started in 2019, when I attended the EUJS Ambassadors at the U.N. seminar, and since then I have had the privilege to take part in multiple events organised and hosted by EUJS.
Being Jewish is a very important part of my identity and I wholeheartedly believe that it is crucial for us to cooperate in order to support our young leaders. Furthermore, Europe is facing a threatening rise in antisemitism and Jewish students have felt this alarming rise for a while. It goes without saying that Jewish students should not face such hardships in their universities and in my opinion, it is clear that EUJS is the place for them to turn in order for Jewish advocacy and activism.
Throughout the years I have been invested in using my voice for drawing attention to issues that are central to my activism. I have been a member of Girl Up Romania, a U.N. founded teen-led organisation that fights for gender equality, and in my last year as a member I was elected as Head of our Human Resources Department and tasked to lead a team of young activists from around the country that spread awareness on issues such as domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual education. This wonderful experience has taught me that activism is all about amplifying the voices of those that cannot be heard. Moreover, I have gained the necessary skills of leading, communication and decision solving.
Coming from a small country, it is important for me to highlight the diversity of Europe's Jewry and provide a platform for Jewish students that need help from an organisation dedicated to empower them, just like EUJS does. Therefore, I believe that strengthening relations between unions and union members is crucial. As someone who was given the chance to be part of this organisation without an active union I would love to give this opportunity to other young Jewish activists who have not yet interacted with EUJS.The last year has showed us how important it is to be connected and united even in times when we are apart and why we should not let distance stop us from working with our community members. All the more, we should take time to engage and broaden our relations!
It would be an honor for me to represent such an active community and I am certain that EUJS will continue leading as an organisation that continuously aids Jewish students and unions from all around Europe!
Thank you for your consideration!
Sacha Guttmann (Belgium)
My name is Sacha, I am a 22-year-old Political Sciences student at the Free University of Brussels. It has been my honor to be the President of the Belgian Union of Jewish Students (UEJB) for the last two years. I was just re-elected for a second term, this time as part of a co-presidency.
My involvement in the Jewish world has been revolving around a singular fundamental value. The one which, from the time we left Egypt to the Warsaw ghetto Uprising, lead our ancestors: Freedom. During my time as president, I made it UEJB's driving force. I was determined to generate through activism, through culture, through partying and through Belgian and Jewish social engagement, an undeniable emancipation. Not only for the Jewish youth that we represent but for Humanity as a whole.
As an elected EUJS board member, I will again aspire to defend Freedom, in the direct lineage of my Jewish identity. It will assume a strong engagement towards Human Rights and minorities, an ever-evolving fight against antisemitism and, above all, a relentless struggle against far-right ideology.
In the continuity of EUJS's work, I strive towards developing a positive Jewish identity and to politically encourage a stronger and better coverage of the Jewish culture in public spaces and in education programs. Jewish identity is a celebration. EUJS must claim it endlessly while aiming for a world-oriented and open-minded Jewish Youth.
My double position as Board member and Union co-president will bring to the table a singular and significant vision of the national level. I also seek to share my experience acquired at UEJB to the Union leaders who wish to be more active and involved politically.
It is obvious that Europe and our societies were crippled by the crises that we know all too well. It is our job to rise back up and to shape the world on the essential roots planted before us: democracy, individual and collective freedoms. From there, it is up to us to grow the branches. An anti-racist world, more democratic, more equalitarian. It is therefore with this certainty that EUJS must lead the European Jewish Youth to take its place in these struggles. They call for a paradigm shift that I am ready to undertake as part of the EUJS Board.
Yana Naftalieva (Russia)
I've been involved into the Jewish community since childhood. As soon as I entered university I founded there a Jewish club and was leading it for two years. We started as a small national cub but last Rosh-a-shanah we welcomed more than 350 students both Jewish and not. HSE Jewish cub also won the prize for being the most trending student organization in the university.
Apart from organizing events in my university I was active in different Jewish organizations in Moscow, working in informal Jewish education and helping young Jews to embrace their identity during projects like Birthright. Also, for two years now I've been on the board of Russian Union of Jewish Students and World Union of Jewish Students.
I believe in unity within diversity and see EUJS as an amazing platform for collaborations between young Jews from different countries. I'm ready to apply knowledge and skills that I gained from all the leadership work I had. And more than happy to contribute my passion for the world of Jewish leadership.
Camila Piastro (Spain)
# You're not alone,
#Lead with resilience
My name is Camila Piastro, and I'm 28-year old postgraduate of Peace and Gender studies and Euroculture studies, who works at CEJI- A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe.
Restore human connections among Young European Jews has become more critical than ever. The history of our people teaches that our stories of loss become our strength, but our strengths can only be optimized through a sense of collective action among our people, and thus among our unions. Recovering offline activism among students can be a powerful opportunity for positive change if we lead with resilience.
You're not alone campaign is driven by the idea whatever is happening to you as a student or Union, as board member we will be with you, working as a team to navigate our way towards a just and meaningful Jewish life in Europe, to keep celebrating our diversity, embrace our differences and strive for equality.
If elected I will:
1. Foster Solidarity Networks: our activism and capability of action largely depend on our support systems.
• Strengthening Inter-unions solidarity networks, communication, and action. Whatever affects one affects all of us.
• Creating Intergenerational networking: we need EUJS alumni to be more involved than ever and connect with today's young leaders to enhance personal and professional growth through different systems of exchange and mentorship.
• Bolster the women's network and support the creation of other networks and working groups.
2. Advocate for Intersectional Activism and Education: the recommendations for the EU Commission on the upcoming EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism in Europe include an Intersectional approach. As young Jewish people in Europe, our overlapping and diverse experiences of antisemitism and discrimination need to be considered and addressed. As a board member I will:
• Advocate for a new survey to collect Equality data to inform how we identify and experience antisemitism according to our personal characteristics.
• Support mechanisms to educate and strengthen our activism, taking intersectionality as a crosscutting principle to foster radical inclusive spaces.
• Elevate allyship and enlarge alliances. I will work to be better allies to many underrepresented Jewish and other minorities groups and enhance our activism in the prevention of Uighur Genocide and Roma solidarity.
3. BoostingU - boosting Union's voices: leading with resilience means focusing on critical leadership competencies, self-awareness and development opportunities. To achieve optimal performance of unions as a board member I will:
• Work to improve needs assessment mechanisms and consistent reporting to the Union's officer that can strengthen accelerators and facilitate collective action.
• Frame all EUJS seminars under a single annual leadership program, including an equality seminar.
My early years as student were deeply marked by my work and activism in the Jewish community of Barcelona, and other projects such as Salam-shalom Barcelona, and the Women Lawyers for Social Justice in Tel Aviv. However, EUJS has profoundly engraved the person I am today inspiring me to become a young professional Jew. That's why today I want to work to create the same impact with you and for you!
Eryn Sarkin (Portugal)
My name is Eryn Sarkin, I'm 21 years old, I live in Lisbon, Portugal, and am about to begin a Masters in Culture Studies. That said, I am running to be one of the next board members of EUJS!
Coming from South Africa, I moved to a new city or country almost every year after I was 5 years old. I learned from a young age just how important my Judaism is to me, and how impactful the youth are in making change. Despite moving around to various countries, I have always been involved in community outreach, volunteering, and uplifting/supporting any group that I find myself in. Upon moving to Portugal I became involved in events, camps, volunteering, and am a founding board member of the revitalised Portuguese union of Jewish students (Jewish Youth of Portugal). This meant that EUJS became a huge part of my life, offering me the opportunity to learn and grow amongst other European Jewish leaders.
EUJS and JYP have not only given me skills in diplomacy, management and organisation, as well as outreach and social media awareness, but have given me the opportunity to learn about European communities and focus on promoting Portuguese youth Judaism. Moving around has given me the unique opportunity to understand a range of people, Jewish and non-Jewish, learning their cultures, embracing their knowledge, and thriving on the communication with people who are different to myself. I believe that this understanding has equipped me with a unique insight that would support and uplift EUJS going forward.
I believe that as a EUJS board member, we can work together towards making European Jewry and their counterparts feel safe, welcomed, included, and heard.
Some of my goals for a potential EUJS board position include:
• Integrating, including, and offering more support to smaller unions through team building exercises, and diplomacy workshops
• Working towards the creation of smaller international events, for example a "Winter U" weekend/shabbaton (which Portugal would be happy to host the first one!)
• Creating more opportunities for career growth and academic support
• Advocating for no discrimination within member unions regarding race, gender, type of Judaism which one is affiliated, or being LGBTI+, as stated in the bylaws of EUJS • Combating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism:
o Ensuring we target anti-Semitism from all extremists on both sides
o Making sure Zionism doesn't contain anti-Muslim rhetoric
o Ensuring that although we're Zionist, we're not only propagating extreme views. Any media, left or right, needs to be looked at carefully to ensure we're being well informed individuals. This involves the creation workshops and tools on how to discern fake news
Apart, we're small, but together we're strong and powerful. I am so upset that I won't be at Summer U this year due to slow vaccination rollouts for the youth in Portugal, but will hopefully be there next year with you all!
We'll achieve these goals together, with EUJS continuing to be a home to all.
Ilan Selby (Switzerland / UK)
I'm Ilan Selby and most importantly, I'm extremely excited to be running for election to the Board of EUJS! I'm 25 years old, from the UK and I am the former EUJS Policy Officer (2020-2021). Currently I represent EUJS on the WUJS board and I also work within the fields of conflict transformation and peacebuilding at Brussels-based NGO, Search for Common Ground.
I'm someone who is particularly interested in international political affairs with my studies having focussed on International Relations (undergraduate) and Conflict Resolution (masters). My Jewish student activism started in 2019 and since then, my Jewish activism has only grown as I've taken up roles with EUJS, B'nai B'rith International and WUJS.
For me, EUJS is an incredibly special organisation. I was Policy Officer for 14 months and the organisation was my first insight and involvement into Jewish student activism, first as a participant and then as an office member. In this role, I had the pleasure to be involved with, and lead on, several achievements for EUJS, including:
• Enabling pan-European/global organisations to adopt the IHRA definition;
• Organising the first Tikkun Olam in Action seminar;
• Bringing together activists, politicians and academics for a roundtable on EU actions to address Uyghur genocide;
• Editing and launching "The Bridge" magazine;
• Facilitating a discussion among the youth wings of EU political groups on discrimination; ● Establishing "The Lowdown" Instagram series.
I believe that my involvement in the EUJS team grants me a unique perspective on the organisation, as I've gained a real understanding of how the team works, what makes a successful project, how the interaction between team and board could improve and, crucially, how EUJS can best serve unions.
And so, my vision for EUJS would focus on the following areas:
• Expanding Political Engagement.
I'd look to help EUJS strengthen its political connections by having regular meetings with key decision-makers to consolidate and grow EUJS' political advocacy network on a wide range of relevant issues, from human rights advocacy and addressing the climate crisis, to promoting Shoah remembrance, and combating antisemitism and all forms of discrimination.
• Strengthening External Relations.
In building more informal coalitions and partnerships with non-Jewish organisations, EUJS will be better placed in being active and vocal on key issues as well as in gaining allies on other priority areas for Jewish students in Europe.
• Connecting Unions.
The purpose of EUJS is to serve its unions and so I would help provide the space for unions to tangibly connect with one another; sharing ideas, best practices and enabling the space for bilateral project collaboration.
It's very important that EUJS' unions, and Jewish students in Europe, feel represented by EUJS and I hope to ensure that the organisation continues to grow as the representative young Jewish European voice at the table; a voice which is able to challenge other Jewish organisations, other youth organisations or whatever the other stakeholder may be, to amplify the collective voice of Jewish students in Europe!
Olaf Stando (UK / Sweden / Poland)
My name is Olaf Stando, I live in Scotland and I've been honoured to be an EUJS Board Member for the past two years.
After nearly 7 years of being actively involved with EUJS, I've seen our EUJS family grow, adapt and evolve - always keeping our overarching focus on being there for Jewish students, no matter what.
Like thousands of others, my European Jewish life has been largely shaped and inspired by EUJS events and programs - from political seminars, to demonstrations, campaigns, and many unforgettable Summer U's.
As we emerge out of the pandemic, I want EUJS to spring back into life, with new opportunities to new activists to engage in, and old friends to re-connect.
This means organising more social events such as Shabbatons or cultural trips, and also stepping up our political engagement.
I believe that as empowered, politically educated activists, we have an immense power in our hands to fight all forms of racism, promote a positive Jewish identity, and build a better society.
That's why, as your Board Member, I would work for EUJS to equip activists and unions with practical skills, such as fundraising, union development, campaign organising, or media relations.
This should include Policy Conferences to discuss crucial topics in more depth, improve the way unions can shape EUJS, and develop new campaigns.
I want EUJS to keep inspiring student activism all over Europe, and for every union - no matter how big or small - to have a voice.
To do that, we need to break down some boundaries. Small and isolated Jewish communities in Europe need more say, more confidence and more resources.
This includes financial resources. That's why, as your Board Member, I would push for EUJS to explore the possibility of setting up an Accelerator Fund - which would help fund youth-led community projects, and provide practical help for new and developing unions.
I want EUJS to continue being a beacon of Jewish student activism - an organisation that's loud, proud, and uncompromising in our fight against hate, racism and prejudice.
If you elect me as your Board Member, I pledge to always be there for unions and harness the collective energy of our activism - so that together, we can build a more confident, more resilient, more dynamic Jewish community in Europe.
Vote to take EUJS forward. Vote Olaf.
Máté Zsédely-Holler (Hungary)
My name is Máté Zsédely-Holler, and I am a 20-year-old Political Science student at the University of Amsterdam. I am a Ronald S. Lauder and WUJS Impact Fellow, and I am running to be on the next EUJS Board.
After having spent my entire life in countries such as Hungary, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, I've learned a lot about European Jewish communities and how diverse each Union is, all of which must cooperate and exist in a highly politicized environment. Local financial difficulties that impact our communities also make it difficult for young Jews to learn about their culture, values, and religion. This is exacerbated by local community polarization, which stifles cooperation and deprives young Jews of learning opportunities. One of the most significant drivers of assimilation is that we learn about Judaism not through our beautiful and ancient practices and traditions, but through the horrors of the Holocaust.
As a result of my previous involvement in intersectional and anti-racist activities, I became aware of one issue: the lack of Jewish inclusion in these emancipation movements. According to a large-scale poll performed in twelve European Member States, anti-Semitism is on the rise, and nearly half of European Jewish youth have encountered anti-Semitism in the last five years. However, our voices are rarely heard, and left-wing parties, which claim to be built on solidarity and allyship, are riddled with antisemitic incidents. In addition, right-wing and authoritarian voices continue to threaten Jews and other minorities throughout Europe.
European educational institutions are not designed to protect Jewish students. Antisemitic events in schools are frequently unnoticed, neglected, and unquestioned. Universities and other educational institutions have a responsibility to raise antisemitism awareness in order to prevent and combat its spread throughout Europe. Jewish history and culture are not fully taught, resulting in misconceptions about current political realities such as the Israel-Palestine conflict and present Diaspora Affairs.
Recently, under the current EUJS board and presidency, we saw meaningful and positive changes regarding these issues, but we still have a long way to go.
As an elected EUJS Board Member, I would
• Push the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism at European Educational Institution
• Initiate a EUJS Guideline on fostering Jewish life at Universities
• Support more inactive Unions with exclusive EUJS programs
• Raise awareness on selective intersectionality
• Helping to grow collaboration with non-Jewish organizations
• Create a more inclusive, active EUJS for everyone
Candidate for Treasurer: Micol Di Gioacchino (Italy)
I am Micol Di Gioacchino, a 21 years old student of Business Administration from Rome, Italy. If I should describe myself in few words, I would say that the combination of my Roman, Sefardi, and Jewish identity do not clearly make me a quiet person. But, as a Jewish student, I believe that this noisy attitude does not necessarily mean something bad.
In fact, in a world in which Jewish people are constantly being attacked, it is important to have a strong voice that can handle the daily challenges with a smile and a resistant personality. For this reason, I thought that my personality could be helpful in my local community, and therefore since March 2021 I am the Treasurer and Board member of UGEI- The Italian Union of Jewish Students and Young Professionals.
Since my election to the Italian board, I have learned a lot about the different needs and issues that local communities of Italy are still facing. From the small questions that are asked to Jewish students, like "Are Jews actually Italian?" or "is it true that Jewish women are discriminated?" I realized that still so much has to be done so that people will finally understand what Judaism truly means.
But, as we all know, the real changes start from small steps, thus, my first Summer U in 2018, gave me a new perspective.
I got back home realizing that I wanted to make a difference in my local community, and step by step I implemented techniques and tools that I learned at EUJS.
Since I am already trying to do my best in the Italian Union, I feel like this is the right timing to give back something to EUJS too.
I strongly believe that also one single voice can make a difference, but I also sincerely believe that many strong voices make the real change.
For this reason, I am now running as a Treasurer of EUJS, so that hopefully with the new team I will be able to listen to the different concerns and needs of students and make sure that every voice will have an echo of actions.