Durham student elected as President of Union of Jewish Students


Sami Berkoff, a member of St. Cuthbert’s Society and current President of Durham University Jewish Society (JSoc) was elected as the next President of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). She is the seventh woman to be president of UJS since 2001, and the first person from Durham for many years.

As the President of Durham’s JSoc, Ms Berkoff made it much more active, going from having less than fifteen active members to over fifty, creating a safe and supportive environment for Jewish students in Durham.

The presidential campaign included three rounds of debates and voting, where students had the opportunity to scrutinise the candidates’ plans for their presidency. Her victory was announced at the end of the annual UJS Conference, following the largest ever turnout for the Union, with over 1,000 Jewish students across the UK taking part.

It’s never been more important to stand shoulder to shoulder as Jewish students

Sami Berkoff

Her “Stand Strong With Sami” campaign covered a wide range of issues around Jewish student life. Her manifesto focussed on strengthening ties between JSocs, including “sibling JSocs”, as well as enhancing welfare provisions for Jewish students.

Speaking to The Jewish Chronicle, Ms Berkoff discussed her motivation for running, saying “I’ve always spoken out and raised my voice for what I perceive to be right, and I’m deeply proud of my Jewish identity”.

She also described how her decision was informed by ongoing events, saying that Jewish students are “facing the biggest increase in antisemitism on campus in a long time, and it is disgraceful. It’s very distressing, but it’s also never been more important to stand shoulder to shoulder as Jewish students.”

Shaid Mahmood, Durham’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), congratulated Ms Berkoff on her election, saying: “Sami is an impressive and deeply committed leader who has worked collaboratively with the University to ensure the Jewish student community has a voice and feels supported.”

“Her election to this prestigious national role is both an honour for her and Durham University, and we wish her all the very best.”

Ms Berkoff will start her role in summer 2024, following the completion of current president Edward Isaac’s tenure.

Image: Sami Berkoff via Union of Jewish Students

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