In the Spotlight #12 – Leah

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.

Hi, I am Leah, 22 years old and I come from Haarlem. I lived in Heemstede until I was sixteen, after which my parents moved to Haarlem. I did not necessarily experience Heemstede as my home, because my school was in Haarlem and that is where most of my memories are.

Because my mother was adopted into a non-Jewish family, she never learned much about Jewish traditions, other than knowing that her biological family was Jewish. When she was older she started to study Judaism more and joined Jewish communities. When I was little I went to the Synagogue a few times and my mother read to me from the Jewish children’s Torah.

Now that I’m older, my curiosity about my Jewish identity starts to grow and I want to explore this further.

leah liefde joods

I am currently studying Journalism in Utrecht, where I have also lived for a number of years. Before my studies, I wrote some articles about the Jewish community and making Aliyah, because of my interest in the culture. Just before corona, I also signed up for Birthright, because I feel connected to Judaism and wanted to see if Israel might be a country where my heart lies. Unfortunately, because of the corona, I still have not been on a trip… Yet my interest remained and this became a fascination that I am now even going to make a documentary about.

In the documentary, I follow women who, like me, are discovering their own Jewish identity, with the main theme: love! Because what has fascinated me all my life is that I can pass on Judaism when I have children. But how important is it that I have a Jewish partner? That is what I want to find out in my documentary, together with the other women.

Dating within Judaism can also lead to restrictions for some, because the community in the Netherlands is small and therefore there are few fish in the sea. For this reason, many also go to Israel, where there is more choice in the dating pool. To make things a little easier, there are also Jewish dating apps, which is a niche that few of my non-Jewish friends know about.

The documentary will be a positive one, in which I want to highlight the beautiful and universal side of humans. 

Since some of the women we want to speak to live in Israel (they moved there because of love), most likely we will fly ourselves and I will finally make the trip I have been waiting for so long! And this time even with a bigger goal: to realize my documentary and to record special stories.

Journalism suits me perfectly in that regard: I find something interesting and then want to know everything about it. It also gives me the freedom to make what I want and find important. I am often involved with social themes and I especially enjoy making human interest stories. I like to expose issues in my content, but I am also a big believer in showing beautiful and bright subjects.

With this documentary, I want to give a positive twist to the Jewish community and culture and show what it is like to be a Jewish woman in 2022 and what love means for them. A story positively charged with love!

I am very happy that a community like Chabad On Campus exists. In this way, people come together within the Jewish culture and you can further discover your own Jewish identity in an accessible way. Especially for people like me, who know little knowledge, it is nice to have a place where you can go if you want to do more with it yourself!

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

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