Being Jewish in the UK is tough - but the community is amazing

Student blogger Jamie Rodney reflects on how writing for the JC has strengthened his Jewish identity

September 12, 2018 09:51

One of the main lessons I’ve learned from my time at the Jewish Chronicle is just how hard it is to say anything in 500 words. Even when I thought one of my articles had a simple, succinct point, I’ve always found myself reaching the word limit without having said everything I wanted. Such is the case with this article more than any of the others - how can I cram everything I want to say about my time as a student blogger into so few words?

I’ll start with the obvious stuff. Being able to write for The JC has been a huge honour. I applied for the job thinking I’d be lucky if I was even seriously considered, so I still have to pinch myself occasionally when I remember that a national newspaper thought my inane witterings were worth publishing (and paying me for!). More seriously, I don’t think I’d have known this time last year how deep I’d go into my personal thoughts, my family history and my various existential crises on these pages. It’s helped me develop my thoughts on where I stand on different issues, from the personal, to the religious. If any of you found those thoughts edifying, or interesting, or even worth reading, then I can’t complain about that either. 

I should also mention my fellow student bloggers, Asha and Orli. For somebody who grew up without close Jewish friends, and whose social circle is pretty heavily gentile, it’s refreshing - not to say exciting - to be able to write alongside a pair of articulate and intelligent Jews my own age. (Also our Facebook group chat has the best banter, but the less said about our in-jokes in a national newspaper the better.)

Ideally, I’d end this article on that wholesome note, but I’m afraid I can’t. Because unfortunately my time as a writer for the Jewish Chronicle has coincided with a period where being Jewish has become decidedly more…interesting. Between having the Official Opposition Party irradiated with antisemitism at home, and the Israeli Government twisting Zionism into a grotesque parody of itself abroad, Jewish identity has become contested, political, controversial. I’m honestly not sure what that means for the future of British (not to say international) Jewry.

But ending on that note doesn’t say everything I want to say either. Because while learning more about what it means to be Jewish this year has been a cause for worry, it’s also been a cause for pride. Fierce, intense, almost overwhelming pride in the messy, vibrant, diverse community that you and I are a part of, and which this great newspaper represents. Reading the Jewish Chronicle might have made me more attuned to the threats the Jewish community is under. But it’s also made me realise that no matter what the threats may be, it is a community worth defending.      


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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September 12, 2018 09:51

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