Miki Vyse: UJIA Northern Dinner

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the UJIA Northern dinner, one of my favourite events of the year.

To celebrate 70 years of Israel, we heard 7 different stories from different areas of UJIA’s work.

Over the past year, there has been some fantastic coverage of UJIA in the press, not least due to HRH Prince William’s visit to Israel. At the dinner, we heard from young people that have been through UJIA’s fast track course, young people who had explored their identity on Israel tour and developed themselves on young leadership programmes. For nearly 100 years, UJIA has been building meaningful relationships between the UK and Israel, and seeing that displayed in the North of England was fantastic.

We are lucky in Leeds to see the benefits of UJIA investment in our young people; from the fantastic youth centre at The Zone, to the engagement our young people have in UJIA JAMS sessions, and the sheer amount of young people that further their experience of Israel tour by participating in gap year programmes or a full Israel year course programme. UJIA engages 50% of Jewish 16 year olds in their youth programmes, and touches the lives of 14717 young people in the Galil.

The keynote speaker of the evening, ret.Col Peter Lerner, spoke passionately about his experience heading up the Israel Defence Forces’ Spokesperson Unit, and how we can use our friendship with Israel to speak out against the anti-Israel rhetoric that can be so prominent on campuses and in the media. Following his rousing speech, we were treated to incredible entertainment from the winner of Israel’s Got Talent, Tomer Dudai.

In what has been a tumultuous year for the Jewish community, it was fantastic to see so many old and new faces at the UJIA dinner, raising a staggering £250,000 in one evening.  Many congratulations to everyone that was involved in organising the event and to the great team at UJIA for a fantastic evening.