Erasmus University has associations from all walks of life, but there was none for Jewish students yet. That changed last month, given the current developments in Israel just in time to provide a place where Jewish EUR students can seek each other out.

Rose, a first-year International Business Administration student, is the founder. In early September, after her arrival in Rotterdam, she discovered that such an association didn’t exist yet, and within a few weeks the Jewish Student Association was up and running. The association now has some seventy members and has organised all kinds of activities, such as celebrating a social event in a  Sukkah, a pizza night and a visit to a synagogue.

‘Rose’ is a pseudonym chosen by the founder of the association. Due to the current security risks surrounding Jewish communities around the world and in the Netherlands, she requested anonymity and EM granted that. Her full name is known to the editors.

Jewish heritage

A Jewish association cannot ignore the security situation, especially at this moment of war in Israel, and so the association must remain more discreet as Rose might have liked and she wishes to remain anonymous. “On Instagram, we show what activities we organise, but not what time and where”, she says.

The association asks incoming members to briefly explain their link to Jewish heritage. This membership procedure has been set up, to ensure the association’s safety. “Nevertheless, the association is open to every student that identifies as Jewish or that has an indirect link to the Jewish culture”, Rose explains Incidentally, she is not too worried about the individual safety of members. “Most members have a low visibility as being Jewish. Yet once unified, the Jewish community becomes a target group.”

'Intolerable antisemitic comments on campus'

Members do have trouble focusing because of the events in Israel, for example during exams. Rose has pressed the university about this issue. “The Erasmus University made the exception to put our association on its website, which normally only happens when an association has been in existence for at least a year. That way Jewish students can find us more easily.”

There is great concern within the association about Hamas’ attack on Israel. “We feel sad, triggered and frightened. In such a pressing and unforeseeable situation, the presence of a Jewish Student Association becomes more vital than ever”, she says. There is anxiety, not only about what happened, but also about ‘the glorification of terrorism that is happening in Israel, as well as intolerable antisemitic comments by some people on campus’, according to Rose, who didn’t want to go into more details about this. “This is not a time for political discussion, but we should talk about the terror committed by Hamas to Israel and the Palestinians”, she added.

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