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SAUJS made life easier and better at varsity



As a Jewish student in South Africa, my university experience has been largely positive, filled with enriching moments and a sense of community. The academic year concluded around 7 October, so my university experience reflects a pre-7 October world with regards to antisemitism.

The vibrant atmosphere fostered by the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) on campus contributed significantly to my positive experience. Its dedication to organising engaging events not only strengthened the sense of community among Jewish students but also allowed for meaningful interactions with peers from diverse backgrounds. These initiatives created an inclusive environment, promoting understanding and unity.

Fortunately, my time at university was marked by very little antisemitism. Though there were occasional moments that hinted at potential challenges, such as a protest hosted by the Palestinian Solidarity Committee shortly after 7 October, the overall atmosphere has remained welcoming. It’s heartening to see that, for the most part, differences are celebrated rather than criticised.

Looking ahead, there’s concern about the potential escalation of antisemitism in the academic year. Though my encounters have been minimal, awareness of global events and shifting dynamics prompts a certain level of apprehension and continued vigilance.

Though SAUJS has been a cornerstone of support, it’s important to acknowledge the obligation of the university itself to cultivate a tolerant and diverse campus. The university’s commitment to protecting its Jewish students and creating an inclusive atmosphere is crucial. We’re aware that universities can be hotspots for antisemitism, as we have seen with the controversies at Harvard, Stanford, and other international universities, but my experience at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has made me optimistic that its leadership will rise to the challenge of protecting its Jewish students.

I hope that the university, in collaboration with student organisations like SAUJS, will continue to foster an environment that celebrates our Judaism, ensuring that every Jewish student feels welcome and valued on campus. I strongly encourage matriculants to join SAUJS to be part of a vibrant Jewish life on campus.

  • Bethia Milner has completed her third year of a BSc in Economics and Maths and Wits University and will start her honours in economics at Wits this year. She is the president of SAUJS and involved with Habonim Dror.

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