Leeds students set the table to combat antisemitism

A new grassroots movement is handing out stickers, leaflets ….and falafel


Students at Leeds University are handing out stickers, leaflets...and falafel as a means of combating antisemitism on campus

Jewish students in Leeds have organised a grassroots-level movement to hold discussions about Jewish identity and to combat antisemitism on campus.

This movement, known as The Table, was originally set up by second year student Shmuel von Weisl, who decided to set up a stall on campus shortly after October 7, saying that he saw “the world go upside down”, with the outpouring of antisemitism against Jewish students.

Shmuel and one other student began by handing out stickers from the table and displaying an Israeli flag.

The group has since grown to 60 members and a leadership team of 13, including non-Jewish members.

According to the group’s spokesperson, their core aims are to spread awareness of Jewish identity, to explain how Jewish students have been affected since October 7 and how they can get help.

The group’s social media officer said that he had decided to get involved following the vandalism of Leeds Hillel House, saying that he felt “very disappointed” with the statement made by the university, describing it as being “straight out of the All Lives Matter playbook”.

“We are just a grassroots movement of students, and our mission statement is to promote Jewish identity on campus”, Shmuel said. The group is firmly apolitical and welcomes engagement from those across the political spectrum, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike, he said.

After the university’s library building was occupied by a group of anti-Israel protesters, Shmuel said that his team had decided to organise a table inside the building and found themselves engaging in conversations with other students. The group’s spokesperson described these interactions as being “really productive”.

However, the group recently experienced an antisemitic incident, when a stand they had set up was attacked by two people, who ripped off the Israeli flag. 

The Table’s social media manager said that they were helped by members of the anti-Israel group, who had condemned the attack, to set the table up again.

Asked how the attack had impacted the group, the spokesperson said: “We’ve got to be strong. If we stopped doing what we’re trying to do, the antisemites would win.”

In addition to having conversations and debates, the table has also been handing out stickers and badges with “Leeds Leads Against Antisemitism”, a slogan created by the members — as well as falafel.

They also have plans to produce their own education leaflets. Alongside this, Shmuel said he would like to bring different speakers from across the political spectrum to the stall.

Although The Table is currently just a Leeds-based movement, Shmuel said that they hoped to inspire students at other universities to start their own grassroots stands.

“Every Jew needs to stand up for themselves to show who they are and be proud,” he said.

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