E-mail from London

"I’m Olga and if you ask me where I’m from, you confront me with my typical ‘International Jewish student identity crisis’".Lees de e-mail van een joodse, Oostenrijkse studente uit Londen.

Luckily it is not unusual in London to be an "alien". Everyone here seems to be different, coming from different cultures, countries, religions, beliefs, views, feelings, tastes and so on. So I don’t have to feel that weird when I recite the long sentence:"Well, I was born in Hungary, but I grew up in Austria and I ended up here. Oh, and in between, so long ago that I can’t even remember, I enjoyed my life in Australia for ten months. And, as I am Jewish, I feel connected to Israël as well."On this year?s summer camp of the European Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in Hungary, I was happy to meet people who were in a similar sort of identity crisis, trying to find their right little place in the world.Israël is probably the connecting point of all Jewish communities and in return, it also influences them, especially in times of danger and hateful, violent clashes as it is sadly happening now. My friends from Paris told me about the anti-Semitic insults many had to bear, about violence, the attacks on synagogues and the burning of an Israëli flag in a lecture at the University of Paris.In London, it didn’t get that far, but the stabbing of a 20-year-old yeshiva student on the bus, anti-Semitic comments and the spreading of hateful propaganda on universities alert the community. There have been several emergency meetings and briefings on the situation in Israël, one of them a speech by Shimon Peres, which wasn’t announced until a few hours before. It still attracted hundreds of members of the community, who feel very strongly about what is happening. On Shabbat dinner tables I always end up discussing whether the peace process is really lost, whether hope should be given up.What I can tell you for sure is that Jewish life is going on. In fact, it is quite amazing for a girl like me, who comes from a relatively small Jewish community, to live in the area of Hendon, just a few minutes from Golders Green, where every second person on the street is Jewish. Some of you might think: "No way! I could never live in such a Ghetto!"But I think it is a really good place for me at the moment. It makes it possible to meet many other Jewish students or to spend Shabbat with Jewish families, which makes it easier to be away from home. Also most of the Jewish organisations are in the area, such as the Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) or "Aish Hatorah".Many happenings are what I call "Shidduch events", where they try to set up Jewish guys and girls. Some of these events are disguised as all sorts of parties, but sometimes it is almost shockingly honest as with a regular event called "speed dating". There, each young man and woman gets the chance to talk to someone for five minutes before moving to a new person for the next five. In the end they can decide who they liked best and if it works out it can result in a date, or maybe more.I bet you want to know whether I?ve ever tried this sort of dating. The answer is no, but you probably don?t believe that I would tell you if it was "yes". But I would, honestly. I am sure it is great fun and I bet I?m crazy enough to try, I just don?t believe it is the place where I will find the love of my life.I would love to tell you about the encounter conference, which happened on December 3 this year. Apparently there were many amazing speeches on Jewish subjects, but I, being too much of a "last minute" person, was late to buy a ticket and it was sold out.Well, at least I booked my flight to Vienna early enough so that I can spend my ridiculously long winter holidays back home with my family and friends.Hope you?ll enjoy your winter too and that you’ve had a HAPPY HANUKKAH!Love, Olga

Advertentie (4)