HSE JEWS: Interview With Club’s President

HSE JEWS: Interview With Club’s President

On the eve of the oncoming Hanukkah - a wonderful eight night Jewish holiday celebrating the Maccabees victory over the Greco-Syrian forces and the miracle of oil burning for eight days when there was only enough oil to last for one - HSE Illuminated talked to Yana Naftalieva, a president of HSE JEWS, about the club, its traditions, events and plans for the future.

Hey, Yana, I am very pleased to be here! Please, tell me about HSE JEWS project. How did you come up with the idea for the club?

Well, in fact, I was looking for the existing Jewish student organization throughout my entire freshman year because I knew about other national associations in HSE… However, my search did not succeed. During my sophomore year I decided that this situation is should be changed as there is a huge representation of Jewish people in HSE and I really wanted to bring them all together. So, I teamed up with people who shared this idea, and we created HSE JEWS.

What kind of events do you hold at the club?

The most important events we hold at the club are celebrations of different Jewish holidays. Our biggest event is a celebration of Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year, which happens at the beginning of academic year in September. Kind of a funny coincidence. Another big celebration is Hanukkah and in the near future we really want to include celebration of Pesach [one of the three major pilgrimage festivals of ancient Israel and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt - Ed.] in our schedule.

Also, we hold movie screening and numerous lectures: we invite Jews, who are great professionals in their respective fields to share their experiences with students.

In addition, we try to participate a lot in different HSE events, for example, we were the only national club that took part in the festival ‘Noch’ (‘night’ in Russian) [a student festival about modern entertainment for all who are interested in the culture and science of the 21st century - Ed.]

In March HSE JEWS celebrated the second anniversary of its founding? What’s your favourite memory?

The most special and memorable event is always Rosh Hashanah. It’s celebrated in September and matches the time when freshmen explore all the opportunities of extra-curricular activities. Once, we presented ourselves so good that the mind-boggling number of them came to visit us. They said that senior students strongly recommended them to get acquainted with our club. And this is amazing, we receive insane feedback and it produces incredible feelings of just pure happiness for our team. 

Tell me about your team. How many people on board? How did you all come up together? What happens behind the scenes?

We have a wonderful team and HSE JEWS couldn't exist without each of the team. It consists of 16-17 active contributors. There was a high turnover of staff in the beginning as many people wanted to participate but as it always happens, people come, people leave. We tried to understand who is indeed ready to invest time to the project. So, during the first six month there were only 5-6 six of us. But eventually team has grown and nowadays we even have people on board who already graduated from HSE.

Speaking about stuff behind the scenes, our work flow is really liberal, we have no hierarchy. We have a team of designers, a team of event managers, and all together we work on advertising. To be part of the team is really nice as it’s another level of emotional feedback and we often gather all together.  

How does one become a member of HSE JEWS? Is there any special membership for the participants of the club?

Well, there is no special membership if we’re not talking about being part of creative team behind the events. Otherwise, regardless of nationality or religious views we just welcome all HSE students who want to take part in our events and get to know more about the Jewish culture!

Have you ever encountered exchange students at your events? Would you like them to come and join you in the future?

Yes, we have, particularly students from Israel and France joined our events when we did a collaboration with Erasmus Student Network last year. We are really looking forward to see more exchange students at the club, we all speak English here! 

Tell me about HSE JEWS future plans.

Well, we have events scheduled every month for the following year! We would like to collaborate more with various HSE student organizations Also, if it’s possible, we would like to hold even more events than once a month, it’s just really time-consuming, so we’ll see what we can do about it. 

Hanukkah at HSE

Sunday, December 22, marks the start of Hanukkah and HSE JEWS invites everyone to celebrate it together at the university. Join the club to take an exciting journey through a unique history and culture of the Jewish people.

The celebration will take place at Pokrovskiy bulvar, 11, auditorium N206 on 19 December at 7 PM. Don’t forget to register on TimePad

Text by
Rostislav Miretskiy

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