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Student Views

Being a student blogger has taught me more about my Judaism

Writing for the JC has made me reaffirm my Jewish identity, writes Jamie Rodney

    Apologies in advance, but this is going to be a fairly self-indulgent one.

    I’ve been a Student Views Blogger for the Jewish Chronicle for a good few months now, and I thought I’d offer some insights into what that’s like, in case anyone was interested (and to be honest, who wouldn’t be?) If that’s not your thing then, again, I can only apologise and promise that my next one will involve less navel-gazing, but for those of you who are still reading (hi Mum), I’ll do my best to enlighten you on what it’s like being a campus footsoldier for the world's oldest and most influential Jewish newspaper.

    First off, a bit of context. I applied for this job almost on a whim, after seeing an advert in my uncle’s copy of the JC. He’s one of the only people in my family who reads it regularly, and I might not have even known that this position existed if he hadn’t been staying with us.  Despite this, however, this job has quickly become a bigger part of my identity than I would have thought possible.

    Now, I guess there are cynical explanations for this. As any millennial with no skills other than the ability to string a sentence cleverly will tell you, paid employment as a writer is difficult to come by, and always gratefully received. I’m pretty sure I’d develop a tribal loyalty to Guns and Ammo magazine if there was money in it.

    But it’s not just that. Even when nobody in my family read the Jewish Chronicle, even when I was a child, the name always had a certain significance to me - a kind of respectability, gravitas, the same sort of thing my five-year old mind associated with Very-Important-Grown-Up-Stuff-That-I’d-Understand-When-I-Was-Older. As I matured, I became more aware of the role the JC plays- fighting and exposing antisemitism, exploring and clarifying what it means to be Jewish. Just being a part of that - even on as lowly a level as mine - feels pretty great.

    This also functions on a deeper level. As I may have alluded to once or twice, I’m not a very good Jew. However, even for someone as lazily religious as I am, having to come up with articles about being Jewish on a fairly regular basis leads to a good deal of cultural introspection. I’ve definitely become more aware of my Judaism in the last few months. For one thing I used the phrase Oy Vey in conversation last week, which I thought was illegal for anyone under the age of 40.

    But that identity manifests itself in other, more serious ways. Three weeks ago, I wrote an article about my Holocaust-survivor Grandfather and how his changing his name had impacted on our family. That’s set in motion a chain of thought that’s left me wanting to dig much deeper into my family history, and reaffirm my Jewish identity through it. That’s something - no matter how small - that never would have happened if I didn’t have this job. It’s also something that I’m pretty grateful for.  So that’s cool.

    So cool, in fact, that it’s made all the stress of coming up with article ideas, all the anxiety of sorting through which thoughts are ok to put on the internet, more than worth it.

    Although that said, I’ve just realised I have no idea what I’m going to write about next month. And I have two essays to hand in between now and then. Oy vey.

    Jamie Rodney is one of the JC's regular student bloggers for 2017-18. He is studying English at St Andrews University. 

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