New AUJS executive announced

From left: Shira Rosenblum, Gary Hofman, Gabriella Davis, Josef Wilkinson, Ariel Mekler-Peled , Ruby Herman and Natasha Connors. Absent: Joshua Kirsh.

NEWLY elected Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) 2019 chairperson Josef Wilkinson says he is “looking forward to a really great year with an amazing executive”.

AUJS’ new executive was voted on at the organisation’s annual general meeting in Sydney before Rosh Hashanah.

Also on the team is vice-chairperson Ariel Mekler-Peled, political affairs director Joshua Kirsh, treasurer Natasha Connors, campaigns coordinator Gary Hofman, leadership and development officer Gabriella Davis, Jewish engagement officer Shira Rosenblum and conferences convenor Ruby Herman.

Wilkinson said the new executive would build upon the work of its 2018 predecessors.

He identified making the organisation accessible to more Jewish students, building on AUJS’ international programs – “an incredible tool for Jewish identity and Jewish development”, he said – and continuing to improve leadership training as key goals.

“We’ve got big communities in Queensland, in New Zealand, in ACT, in WA, and making sure they all come into the fold and grow is really important to the new executive,” he said.

Working to combat antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric on campus was also a priority, he added.

“Continuing to work with more universities next year, getting them to adopt the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] antisemitism definition and making sure that Jewish students feel safe on campus is going to be a priority,” he said.

He said he saw AUJS as “filling a transitory gap” between schooling and adulthood, a time when many Jews lose touch with the community.
“So I think if we continue to do what we’re doing and build on what we’re doing, we could become incredibly important,” he said.

Outgoing chairperson Saul Burston said it had been a pleasure representing the organisation in 2018.

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities, growth and development I’ve been exposed to,” he said.

“2018 has been a very innovative year for AUJS as both student leaders and staff alike have constantly explored ways to operate outside of convention as we as a collective seek to engage more and more Jewish tertiary students in new and exciting platforms.

“I want to wish the best of luck to the entire 2019 executive committee. I hope they take full advantage of the opportunities this organisation gives to its student leaders, and have full confidence they will continue to push the boundaries and explore exciting initiatives that continue to engage Jewish tertiary students on and off university campuses across Australia and New Zealand.”