The chicken soup will always triumph

By Ella Stern, November 13, 2013
Ella Stern

Ella Stern

I am a hardcore, born and bred, Brent cross-shopping, Northern line-riding, Dignity-schmoozing, fro yo-eating, North West Londoner.

But now in my second year at university, I have once again fled my comfy, washed ‘n’ ironed nest and moved to East London, in an effort to prove to myself I am far cooler than I actually am.

Even though I tick the two alternative boxes that qualify me for hipsterdom - living in Shoreditch and going to art school - my chicken soup will always come first.

Having done an art foundation course, where I was the only Jew in the class, I am now studying for a BA, where I am still the only Jew in the class.

I live in student halls, where I am “the only Jew in da crew”, and still attend Friday night dinners - whether that be through London JSoc, along with my Jewish friends in London, or occasionally going home to see my family.

I have unintentionally managed to create for myself two very different lives: one, involving alcohol and the other, smoked salmon and cream cheese.

On Friday, I am treif by day, kosher by night.

Admittedly, my dedication to the tribe has provoked some questions that I may have not given the most intelligent of answers to.

“So you don’t keep any of the Jewish rules…but you’re not atheist?”

“No!” I retort. “You don’t have to keep anything at all and you can still be Jewish!’

But I do represent the community as best I can. I’ve brought non-Jewish friends back for Friday night dinner, handed out Chanucah gelt and hamantachen, and insisted everyone visit Anne Frank’s house on a class trip to Amsterdam.

I suggested my friend visit Auschwitz on her inter-railing trip, I rock a jew-fro, and I practically force challah and bagels down my friends’ throats. So what if I have the odd fry up?

I have to accept that my university friends will never understand why I spent 59p on a Yiddish Slang app, the fact that I have a virtual menorah on my iPad, or that a 13-year-old’s birthday party is an excuse for a new dress.

But that’s ok: why should they?

In my mind, I am living two separate lives, each with different people and different values that rarely mix.

But the reality is that, however much bacon I am surrounded by, my Jewish identity comes with me wherever I go.

It only strengthens and proves to me that the chicken soup will always triumph.

Trust me: the proof is in the Palwins.

Ella Stern is a 20-year-old student studying jewellery design at Central Saint Martins. Follow her blog at

Last updated: 4:06pm, November 15 2013