In the Spotlight #6 – Nathan

Community means people and stories. The dynamics of diversity are an essential part. Chabad on Campus spotlights every week another member of the community with each their own story and vision.

I am currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in communication at Reichman University in Herzliya. Because of my great interest in the musical world, the journalistic side appealed to me. Therefore, studying communication sciences is a logical step to move up in the industry.

Choosing to study in Israel has been an easy decision as I am currently active in both the theatre and music world and aspire to have a career in it. The industry is invariably in the Netherlands but has not yet been discovered in Israel. This can be a pitfall but a significant challenge with many potentials to develop.

It is fantastic to study in Israel. It is a unique experience to live entirely on your own. However, it does not feel like that since many of my family and sister live here. I also have many Dutch friends who have come to study here. The nice weather and the beach make it very attractive to be here. I also like the international aspect and that you have something in common with everyone.

israel joods student spotlight

Almost every person I meet in this country is Jewish, so you bond with them before even speaking to them. This sharpens the connection and warmth. It feels like there are more possibilities in Israel than in the Netherlands because everyone is always energetic and full of interaction. Israel is an ideal option, especially for young people, because you will not be bored here for a second. The great thing about studying here is that everyone gets the chance to get a taste of Israeli life.

There are often moments when I think: ‘If only I were in the Netherlands right now’. For example, yesterday, I had to extend my visa at 7:00 AM and then wait an hour, only to find out that they cancelled my appointment. The bureaucracy here drives you crazy sometimes, a true ‘balagan’. In the Netherlands, everything is ordered and structured. 

As a child, I went to musical theatres with my family. At one point, I found it so fun and captivating that I started to delve into it professionally and got involved in productions behind the scenes. In 2016 I started my own YouTube channel BroadwayinHolland TV, where I make reports of the best musicals. Through this, I came in touch with many people from the field, attended premieres, and followed unique events. This went very well, and I decided to take a gap year after high school within the profession and focus on this.

My goal, however, remained: to go to university after my gap year. When I started studying, I decided to pursue my studies as a ’’ part-time student ’’  because I have too many activities in order to focus on my education entirely. Since childhood, entrepreneurship and organizing have been my passion, from being madrich at Bnei Akiwa’s camps to working on projects. Creating something visible that is creative and entertaining gives me satisfaction.

Despite my passion for this profession, Corona is not helping this. That is why I started an online challenge where I asked an artist to sing a musical song and, in the end, to nominate a colleague to do the same. To my great luck, this was a great success. After all, I could never have predicted that artists would give a living room concert every day for 3 months long.

In 2020, despite the difficulties of Corona, I also produced my musical concert. This is, of course, a considerable risk as this is my own project and my responsibility. Not unimportantly, it is my own investment, and I had to book artists and make sure the audience has fun. This has become a massive success, and I even gave two concerts in 2021. There are plenty of prospects, and I hope to arrange this again in 2022.

Since childhood, I have been active in Jewish youth organizations like Bnei Akiwa. I did mazkirut for 2 years and taught many children and chanichim knowledge about Judaism that they would never get at home otherwise.

As a community, we must strengthen our core. Chabad on Campus ensures Jewish continuity in the Netherlands and contributes to Jewish life. It is close to my heart that many Jewish young people do not feel Jewish, and I think that is a shame. Once again, I believe youth organizations must play an essential role in forming this identity.

When I became a student, I moved to Israel. As a result, I could not get a taste of student life in the Netherlands. I have many international friends who have been welcomed into the community through the events of Chabad On Campus. I also continue to follow the active socials of Chabad On Campus, and I’m glad it is buzzing. I think it is significant that there is such an organization in the Netherlands for students to get to know the Jewish community.

Jan van Brakel
Content Creator & Youth Worker at Chabad On Campus NL

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