Over 100 Jewish student leaders from more than 25 countries joined together last week for the annual Congress of the World Union of Jewish Students. To help support the local economy, the Congress took place in the South of Israel where WUJS purchased all congress supplies from local companies, hired local services and provided opportunities for participants to volunteer with local charities.
The goal of the Congress was to set the agenda for the coming year, coordinate international activities and receive vital training. The student leaders and activists who attended connected with their peers, strengthened ties between their different student unions and increased their knowledge about Israel and the Jewish people.
As this year also marked the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of WUJS, the Congress hosted a special gala dinner where student activists joined with alumni and partner organisations to celebrate. They commemorated the most important achievements and highlights of Jewish student activism from the past 90 years while also showcasing today’s Jewish student unions and the work they are doing.
To celebrate the work of the most active students, WUJS initiated the first annual WUJS Awards. These awards honoured those who have made outstanding contributions to Jewish student life. Awards were given to individuals and student unions. These awards included:
- The first ‘Union of the Year Award’, awarded to Union des Etudiants Juifs de France (The French Union of Jewish Students).
- And the first ‘Hersch Lauterpacht Award for Outstanding Commitment to Jewish Students Life’, awarded to, current President of the European Union of Jewish Students, Jane Braden Golay.
The delegations also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to learn and discuss ways to strengthen Israeli – Diaspora relations and combat global anti-Semitism and the BDS movement. They visited innovative communities, including Kramim and the Ayalim student village in Sderot, where they learned about the challenges and opportunities facing Israel’s South.
Discussing the raison d’être for the annual Congress, WUJS Chairperson, Andi Gergely, told eJP, “It is incredibly important to give student leaders the opportunity to come together every year, meet each other, share experiences, receive training and set the international agenda for the next year. The WUJS Congress is the oldest tradition of the Jewish student union movement and has empowered and inspired many generations of students for political and social activism. In today’s world, where problems and challenges are more and more global we need to find global solutions. This is what WUJS Congress is all about. I am especially happy that the General Assemby adopted a new member country – Georgia and we are excited to be working with the Georgian Jewish student union in the future.”
About: WUJS is the international, pluralistic, non-partisan umbrella organisation comprising of over 40 national independent Jewish Student Unions from all over the world. Founded in 1924 with the aim of “Fostering the unity of Jewish students worldwide. Striving to ensure their participation in the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Jewish people, its continuity, and the development of its religious, spiritual, cultural and social heritage.” WUJS holds itself to same high ideals to this day and continues to promote the Jewish cause as a light unto the nations.