AUJS nets three world awards

January 4, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has won awards in three categories at the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) Congress for 2020, in individual and group categories.

Joshua Kirsh

2020 President Joshua Kirsh was awarded Union Leader of the Year, while AUJS Queensland won Developing Jewish Student Association of the Year, and the Monash Jewish Students Society (MonJSS) took home Local Jewish Student Association of the Year.

Joshua Kirsh sid: “This year has come with its share of challenges and surprises, but also with so many opportunities to make a difference. I feel so proud of everything we were able to do as a team to provide value to Jewish students across Australasia and keep AUJS strong. I only hope I’ve given AUJS as much as it has given me, and I’m honoured that WUJS has recognised all that we’ve been able to achieve this year.”

AUJS Queensland 2020 President Carly Rosenberg commented: “This year has seen a lot of growth for AUJS Queensland – even in the middle of a global pandemic! We’ve had fantastic events and brought some excited new team members on board. It’s a privilege to have that progress recognised by WUJS and we look forward to delivering even more for Jewish students in Queensland in 2021.”

Monash Jewish Students Society 2020 President Isabel Gelb added: “Our executive were all thrilled to receive the local JSA award! It reminded us how important MonJSS’ continued presence is for Jewish students at Monash; especially in 2020 where so many felt disconnected and isolated from their community.”

Over 200 student leaders from around the globe resolved that facing continued challenges from the Coronavirus would require heightened unity and solidarity from all the international members and partners.  WUJS President Jonathan Braun summed up the Congress saying, “The common theme running through all our sessions was crucial role of our organizations in the massive disruption that this crisis has presented.  This can be seen in our social lives, our academic lives but also in our role as young Jewish activists,” he said.


Braun acknowledged that the greatest long-term challenge would be on the financial front with many of the feeder organizations for Jewish activism facing massive funding challenges.  “The Jewish organizational world is in a state of monetary crisis that impacts upon all its links and there is no doubt that the student community is one of the weaker links because without live events and projects during the pandemic, our unions have little financial income of their own,” he explained.

In light of this fact, the Congress issued a resolution to create a “relief support team”, which would shape support possibilities for new initiatives that will respond to current and future needs among Jewish students. This is in addition to the training that WUJS has provided and continues to provide student unions in how to react and support Jewish life on the ground.

While Corona was certainly among the most pressing topics addressed at the multi-day online Congress, the delegates from more than 40 countries discussed many other core issues and opportunities facing Jewish activists around the world today.  Heavier topics including online hate and anti-Semitism, gender issues, the Apartheid-Israel analogy and Holocaust memory were alongside sessions on the power of intercultural alliances, inclusion, and how to become more effective activists and better fundraisers.  The student leaders held an open

Isabel Gelb

conversation about the definition of Zionism and why they shouldn’t be afraid to hold the Jewish narrative rather than being submissive to the one others give to it.

“WUJS has fought and will continue to fight relentlessly for the safety and rights of Jewish students on campuses and in their cities,” said Braun.

Awards were given to student unions in recognition of successful outreach campaigns, the most active and innovative in programming and services and the biggest growth. The General Assembly following congress included elections where a new board of 11 delegates from around the world were voted in, with Jonathan Braun reelected as President. The elections also welcomed the union of Jewish students of Spain, Venezuela and Columbia.

“If there is one takeaway that I hope our student leaders embrace as we enter this new year, it is that they need to be secure in their convictions and beliefs, and never fear diversity of opinion“ said  Naomi Mittelmann Cohen, Executive Director of WUJS . “It is only then that they truly can be Jewish leaders, build bridges and create a safe and inclusive space for all students”.



One Response to “AUJS nets three world awards”
  1. Joseph Silver says:

    In the meantime The National Union of Students (Australia) has adopted “Solidarity with Palestine” as part of its policy platform. All is not as rosy as it appears.

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