Building on the past to secure our future
St Andrews won UJS's Developing JSoc award in March. Their former co-president explains why:
St Andrews JSoc has come on leaps and bounds in the past two years, developing into Scotland's largest and most active Jewish society.
We now have two events every week, and more than 50 members in our diverse society, continuing last year's success of creating an open atmosphere.
This year has built on the strong foundations laid previously, with our first two Shabbat dinners attracting more than 100 people collectively.
We have maintained our strong relationship with Scotland chaplain Rabbi Garry Wayland, and have established a system whereby members can order kosher food through JSoc.
A small group of students represented St Andrews on the winter 2010-11 Birthright trip to Israel, a project which we are keen to repeat in future.
We added Shabbat events and searched for new members
Additional Shabbat events have included the new Shabbat Café, a social buffet held on a Friday night in place of a dinner, and our main Saturday Shabbatons, which included services, Torah discussions and lunches.
For the first time, St Andrews JSoc hosted the Northern Region weekend, reflecting our growth and encouraging members to be more involved in region-wide activities.
Particular effort has been made this year to attract and retain as many members as possible, with members encouraged to bring friends along.
We hosted our first external speaker, independent of Jewish organisations' help. David Matz, a professor in dispute resolution and mediation from UMass Boston, delivered a fascinating insight into the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We have also made a conscious effort towards future growth. We have sought to increase awareness of the JSoc among prospective students through means including a presence at a fair for Jewish sixth formers, creating a guide to the JSoc and making extensive information available online, and by regularly updating the Jewish media on our activities.
Finally, St Andrews was nominated for several awards at the annual UJS ceremony. We were delighted to be named Developing JSoc of the Year and receive nominations in the event and outstanding contribution categories.