SSI Student Spotlight: Rachael Buchwald
Meet Rachael Buchwald, the president of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Manitoba. Rachael is studying health and after college, plans to attend law school. Growing up, Rachael was one of the only Jews in her class. She describes her experience and connection to Israel,
“the first time I went to Israel I felt a sense of belonging I had not experienced before. I support Israel because I believe the Jewish people have a right to self-determination and that the State of Israel has a right to exist. So many different types of people and cultures have a connection to Israel, which I think is a very beautiful thing.”
Getting involved in campus life is a significant part of the college experience. Rachael describes her reasons for joining the best club on campus, Students Supporting Israel.
“I definitely wanted to be involved with a student club on campus and wanted to expand my knowledge on Israel and having productive conversations about Israel. Since joining SSI, I have learned how to be a positive voice on campus. Specifically, creating a safe space for students to have meaningful dialogue which is free of any bias or prejudice.”
Rachael’s positive voice is necessary, especially with the rise in hostility during the past few months. She expresses the current situation and their game plan to respond.
“A group of students have been advocating for our school’s student union to make a statement on the conflict, showing support for only Palestinian students who have experienced harassment. We have been working on a new motion for the student union to make a statement which shows support for ALL students experiencing harassment online as a resulting impact of the conflict. Our goal is for all students to feel supported.”
In addition to these struggles, the pandemic has been a difficult time, but this has not stopped Rachael from making big plans at the University of Manitoba.
“While our campus is still mostly online due to COVID-19, we recognize that our presence on campus is more needed than ever. We plan to host many informative programs, as well as collaborative events with other student groups once we are allowed in-person events. The most important thing for us, on our campus, is to make sure accurate information about Israel is readily available and accessible.”
She goes on to share even more ideas for the semester.
“My biggest goal is to host coalition-building programs with other student groups. Specifically to highlight Israel’s positive collaboration with many countries and communities. I really want to host a celebratory event during Pride month with the LGBTQ student group on campus.”
Rachael’s connection to Zionism and love for Israel is evident as she challenges her students on campus,
“We encourage all students to participate and regularly promote the definition of Zionism. Everyone has the right to self-determination, why are the Jewish people any different?”
We are grateful for Rachael Buchwald’s leadership and all of the exciting ideas for SSI at the University of Manitoba!