In the Spotlight – Rivka #15

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 Gorinchem and lived a part of my childhood in Brussels. It was nice to go to a Jewish school there and I am very happy that I learned to speak French fluently.

In Brussels, I had a good time, but when I was nine years old we moved back to the Netherlands. It was hard to move to a village and go to a school where everyone knew each other from a very young age. Besides, there were no other Jews in the village where we lived. Attending public school and keeping Shabbat was not easy.

Yet that experience has shaped me, I now feel more determined and stronger than ever. If everything in my life had been perfect, it would not have been like this. I also believe that everything happens for a reason. The way I see it is: you are a rare diamond, the difficulties you face sharpen your character so that you can shine beautifully and powerfully and be a light to others.

spotlight chabad on campus jewish

I am currently studying communication sciences at university. I especially like the marketing and sales part. Entrepreneurship is a topic I am very enthusiastic about from a young age. I, therefore, hope to work for an international company in the future, for example in the public relations department. However, I have many interests, so there are many other opportunities for me as well.

Acting has been a passion of mine since childhood. It’s fun to step into another world. When I act, I completely immerse myself in the character. In addition to my studies, I would therefore like to gain experience in the film set. Recently I had a small supporting role in a TV series, it was really a dream that came true! Besides, I love making music and dancing.

Every day you get so many new opportunities. Especially when you are young. Even when a day, a week, a month seems difficult, it is only a small part of your whole life. I fully realize that when I walk into the retirement home. Enjoy and take your chances, chase your dreams! Fall and get back up! The world has so much beauty to offer.

Also, it amazes me how much we have to be thankful for. I often try to think about it. It all seems obvious: a roof on top of your head, enough food, an education, family, health. Until you see people who don’t have it. For example, last summer I worked with a young mother with two children. She was blind. Can you imagine never being able to see your children in your life? Never being able to look into their playful eyes, watch them grow, take their first steps?

I enjoy Jewish life in Amsterdam. What I find special about Judaism is the high level of morality. You can sanctify everyday things with it. It also helps to keep your life purpose in mind. You easily become so absorbed in everyday things that you forget the essence of existence. That’s why I think Shabbat is valuable, you can remember what’s really important in life.

Chabad On Campus is welcoming and connecting. I like to come here regularly, for instance on Friday evenings. I think Rabbi Yanki and his wife Esty are doing a great job keeping the community so alive!

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

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