Rosh Hashana is always a special time for Jewish students worldwide. As we walk back into university campuses and classes, we have a lot to balance amidst the high holy days of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Azeret and Simchat Torah.
Over the last year, the challenges have been numerous. The global COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact our lives, bringing mental, social and financial precariousness on young people across the globe.
Despite all the difficulties, why should we still celebrate and look forward to the year ahead?
On the last Shabbat before Rosh Hashana, we read the Torah portion named "Nitsavim", which means "standing still". On this paracha, we hear about one of the most important and meaningful concepts of Jewish values : free will.
"See, I have placed before you today life and good, death and evil ... It is life and death that I have placed before you, blessing and curse: you will choose life."
The message here is quite impactful. We can stand still because we refuse to move, and by doing so, refuse to live. But we can stand still and strong on the front line of our dreams and values, for all that matters, and by doing so, choose to live.
When the last blow of the Shofar is sounded, Rosh Hashana offers us a choice. A choice between life and death. A choice between standing still and standing strong. A choice between what is and what could be. A choice between a year of indifference or a year of taking action.
Over the last year, life for our youth has become more challenging. Nevertheless, Jewish students have shown more resilience, strength, willingness and ingenuity to impact the world and society they live in.
Over the last year, the World Union of Jewish Students engaged thousands of young people in over 50 countries across North and Latin America, Africa, Europe, Israel and Australasia, to shape a vibrant future.
The month of Tishri is also an occasion to be grateful and reflect on the amazing people surrounding us. I want to thank the amazing WUJS team for their commitment to Jewish students and life : Avital, Caterina, Dylan, Esther, Fanny, Ilan, Natalie, Noemie, Robin, Yam, Yana - Board Members ; Shelly - Executive Director ; Andres - Treasurer ; Thank you.
As we are closing 5781, I am proud to be working with a generation that chose life, and will relentlessly continue to lead society with them. As we are entering 5782, I want to wish you all a year of health, a year of hopes and dreams, a year of leadership, a year of growth and success, a year of life.
To our Jewish students,
To our friends and partners,
Shana Tova U'Metuka.
President of the World Union of Jewish Students