In the Spotlight #11 – Zillah

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.

Jewish identity is very important to me. The traditions, norms and values guide me throughout life and connect me as an individual to a group.

The little and important things in my life that connect me with other Jews are important aspects that I want to carry with me from generation to generation. I consider it such a privilege to belong to this beautiful group.

I was born in Antwerp, Belgium. I lived in Antwerp until I was 18, after which I moved to Amsterdam.

l loved growing up in Antwerp. I grew up with my best friends from the age of three to eighteen. We all lived in the same neighbourhood and went to the same youth movement. In fact, having spent such a large part of my life with them means that these friends are family to me. One of my favourite childhood memories is jumping from one house to another or just spending time together in a park connected to our houses.

The Jewish community in Antwerp, where I grew up, is very close. I grew up in a beautiful community where everyone knew each other. From the age of three to eighteen, my friends and I went to school together. After school, we were together in our youth movement, and you could easily see each other seven days a week.

My Antwerp friends feel like family and not just random friends. We have our own common culture and understanding.

Chabad On Campus Amsterdam antwerp

Moving to Amsterdam was one of the best decisions I ever made. I quickly created a home and a life for myself after I left Antwerp when I was eighteen. I have made many friends and have expanded my network and knowledge. Since the first day that I moved into the Jewish Student House, it quickly became a home for me, along with my roommates, some of whom became like family to me.

Sometimes you do make good choices as a teenager.

I did my Bachelor of Sociology with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. I have always been passionate about design and architecture, and later I realized that I enjoy seeing the bigger picture and why something has to be done a certain way.

I decided to study sociology because you understand how our society works, something I use every day. Entering the stage where I need to think about my future career, I realize that I also have a deep passion for public relations, especially in the lifestyle, hospitality and design scene.

I like to connect with people and work proactively. A passive, sitting-behind-a-desk-job does not suit me as a person who cannot standstill.

At the moment, I am based in Israel, Tel-Aviv. I decided to come for a while and experience the living and working situation in the country. I have always said since I was a kid that I wanted to live in Israel someday, and I found the time and decided to try it. I absolutely love it here and feel more belong here than anywhere else.

Antwerpen amsterdam spotlight

Chabad on Campus is like coming home to me. It is a feeling of peace and excitement simultaneously, and it is something familiar and comforting in the unknown. As a young person coming to a new place full of uncertainties, arriving at Chabad feels like entering a safe space where you know the grind of things. Yet it remains very exciting because you continuously get to know new people.

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

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