In the Spotlight #7 – Daria

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 in Israel, in Tel-Aviv, and lived there until I was four years old when I moved to Romania with my parents and little brother.

Although I do not have a lot of memories from those years, I do remember the park near our house where I would go with my mother and the גן (kindergarten). I am also lucky that my mother took lots of pictures of my childhood, so I can just look at those photographs whenever I think about that period.

My Jewish identity is definitely a crucial part of who I am, and I always have learned to be proud of being a Jew and an Israeli. I hope to pass that on to my future children alongside other values like resilience. I also hope to teach them the importance of being part of a community and that they will find people who will treat them like family wherever they go.

While my family is not very religious, my parents always made sure that we all came together for a special lunch on Saturdays. After a hectic week, it was always a special moment for us, and I always looked forward to that part of the weekend. Besides Shabbat, we would always go to the synagogue for major holidays like Yom Kippur, Hanukkah or Purim. I believe it was important for my parents to ensure that my brother and I grew up in a Jewish environment and us studying in a Jewish school was also a part of that.

The Jewish community in Romania is a small one, under 10.000, but in my case, the community itself has helped me develop and understand my identity better.

When it comes to Jewish activism, it all started with the leadership seminars the JCC hosted for Jewish teenagers, which began in the 8th grade. When I started high school, my school helped me find my voice and understand how to be a good leader and representative for my community. Since then, I have been active in several Jewish organizations such as EUJS and EJA.

Jewish community spotlight

I just started my bachelor’s degree at Leiden University in September, studying International Relations and Organisations. My ambition for the future is to work in the field of diplomacy, but lately, I have also been considering Jewish advocacy. I am motivated to work in these areas because I believe that the current bias Israel faces in the international arena is a major obstacle that should not exist. As an idealist, I hope to help change that. Either way, I really look forward to broadening my horizon and putting everything I learn to good use.

As I said before, being part of a community and having a community is very important to me. When it comes to Chabad on Campus, I was so happy to find a safe space where I felt at home. As an international student, it is challenging to find such a space, but my first Shabbat with Chabad at the Campus was more than I could have wished for. I got welcomed as if I was already being part of the big and beautiful Chabad On Campus family. That evening I felt like I was back home, and I was so happy to be introduced to this fantastic community.

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

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