In the Spotlight #9 – Batel

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 was born and raised in Amsterdam. I attended the Orthodox school Cheider until the age of sixteen. I made friends for life, but have both pleasant and unpleasant memories there.

When I was sixteen, I switched to Maimonides, where I got bullied a bit. I spent a lot of my time being confused about life. I even ate my lunch in the toilet quite a few times.

At some point, I could not handle it anymore.

I dropped out of high school and I spent a year in Israel, where I studied Jewish Philosophy and Law.

Joods spotlight chabad on campus amsterdam

By the time I came back to the Netherlands, the whole school system had changed, meaning I had no diploma. I passed my vwo NG diploma in 6 months through a combination of Joke Smit College and state exams.

I study Bio-pharmaceutical sciences. The degree focuses on everything that has to do with Medicine. From anatomy and physiology to analytical chemistry, physics, and calculus.

I hope one day to understand the human body and soul enough to be able to truly heal other people.

However, I want to emphasize that nowadays, in an era where all information can be found online for free, a degree is just a piece of paper. I am in no way limited by my degree and make sure to educate myself on a wide range of topics.

Amsterdam Joods chabad on campus

I come from an Orthodox-Jewish- Sefardi family that is very serious about preserving their Jewish identity. Shabbat is kept in accordance with Jewish Law. However, being Sefardi, you can expect Iraqi Kubbah on Friday and Yemenite Yachnun on Shabbat.

The Jewish Community in Amsterdam is very small. Like all small community’s it has its pros and cons. I have met some fantastic people in this community and some less-amazing people. I think there is a lot of pain and trauma that has been going around for generations here, and it might be time for a change.

My Jewish Identity is very important to me. I have thousands of years of Jewish heritage and history, and I feel this is my piece to give to the world. What I want to pass on to my children is a conscious version of Judaism, one without Judgement.

A Judaism based on kindness and love.

A spiritual Judaism.

I want to create my world in a way where there really is no concept of ‘other than me’, much like the Jewish concept of ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

Jewish chabad on campus amsterdam spotlight

 I think there is so much beauty and wisdom in Judaism. It is an age-old tradition that has passed the test of time. I consider myself to be lucky and privileged to be Jewish.

Chabad On Campus is a second home to me. I love rabbi Yanky and his wife Esty, and spending Shabbat with their amazing family.

I think the consistency of Chabad on Campus plays a vital role in the continuation of the Jewish community in the Netherlands.

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

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