Honours for students, and soup

Big night out as campus heroes are celebrated at glitzy London ceremony


Selfie sticks on stage, a majority vote for chicken soup and enough schnitzel to feed an army - welcome to the Union of Jewish Students annual awards.

Over 150 undergraduates and graduates gathered at JW3 in London on Sunday to see a group of their peers honoured for their hard work fostering Jewish life on campus.

Jeans and T-shirts were discarded for posh frocks, suits and in some cases even ties, at what is considered the UJS's glitziest event of the year.

Erez Agami, UJS officer in charge of developing JSocs, announced his presence by leaping onto the stage armed with a selfie stick and taking photos of himself with fellow host Amanda Shoffman, and members of the audience.

The big winner of the night was Bristol JSoc, which picked up the coveted JSoc of the year award, a reward for growing its membership from 25 to 150 in just over a year.

The winners

● JSoc of the year - Bristol JSoc
● Alan Senitt outstanding contribution to campus life - Lucy Cohen, Leeds JSoc
● Best education project in honour of Fred Worms OBE - Ela Naegele, Oxford JSoc
● Interfaith project of the year - Esther Malkinson, Loughborough JSoc
● Social action project of the year - Linnet Kaymer, Oxford JSoc
● Communication of the year - Hannah Sharron, Birmingham JSoc
● Oliver Sweeney event of the year - Olivia Davidson and Sophie Calmanson, Birmingham JSoc
● Alan Webber award for Israel engagement - Joel Salmon, St Andrews JSoc
● CST campaign of the year - Miriam Steiner, Daniel Ben-Chorin and Joshua Brill, Brighton and Sussex JSoc
● Dedication to liberation networks - Hannah Brady, UCL JSoc
● Chaplaincy developing JSoc of the year - Durham JSoc and Newcastle JSoc

Bristol came out on top after a vote by audience members representing JSocs from around the country - it was the only award to be decided this way.

Former Bristol JSoc co-president Sarah Manuel said: "It's been a lot of hard work and it felt as if it's all been worthwhile. It's amazing to see how far we have come from a year ago."

The Alan Senitt outstanding contribution to campus life award went to Leeds student Lucy Cohen for founding an egalitarian minyan at her Hillel House, for her work in defeating a student union motion to boycott Israel boycott, and for strengthening ties with charity Tzedek.

Final-year student Ms Cohen said: "I'm just lucky to have had many opportunities. It's important to be able to give back as much as possible."

Incoming UJS president Hannah Brady picked up the Dedication to Liberation Networks award for her work in making JSocs more accessible to students with disabilities.

She said: "It's important to appreciate the fact that students are involved and want to be involved, especially when times on campus can be hard. Students still want to be proud and strong about their Jewish identities."

In all, 67 students were shortlisted for the 11 awards.

Chaplaincy developing JSoc of the year was awarded to two JSocs, Durham and Newcastle. University Jewish Chaplaincy chief operating officer Suzy Richman, who presented the award, admitted that it had been "very difficult to choose between the two of them".

She added: "Newcastle has doubled its numbers as has Durham. They have worked extremely hard to include lots of new people, and to work together as a committee. "

Durham JSoc president Alex Tansey said the JSoc had become so popular that it was not uncommon to run out of plates for Friday night dinners.

UJS president Ella Rose, who steps down in the summer, emphasised the importance of the awards. "Students work every day on campus to do what they are passionate about. They are full-time volunteers. People underestimate how much work they put in," she said.

Perhaps the least surprising moment of the evening came when the result of the guests' vote on their favourite Jewish food was announced - the winner, of course, was chicken soup.

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