My journey with Ha’Am began as a freshman, when I stalked about the Enormous Activities Fair, searching for clubs to join. My eye caught a young man with a clipboard, emphatically explaining to anyone with a kippah, or a typical signifier of Judaism, that he was the editor-in-chief of the Jewish newsmagazine at UCLA. Having been previously discriminated against on my high school newspaper and prevented from publishing a pro-Israel article after my study abroad in Hod Hasharon, I was intrigued by the prospect of writing for an audience who cared about what I had to say — who would welcome my budding voice and unchannelled passion for the Jewish people.
The fact that he did not immediately identify me as Jewish fueled my desire to join the staff and prove that my blond hair and blue eyes were Jewish “enough,” and that I was capable of writing on behalf of my people even though I had never attended Jewish day school. All of these insecurities were my own, but they helped me to realize that educating myself in Jewish practices and becoming Jewishly aware was one of my central goals for my time at UCLA.
Fast forward four years, and I am now at the end of my college career, wrapping up my third term as Ha’Am‘s editor-in-chief. Over the past four years, I have grown as a writer, as a leader, and as a young Jewish adult. In my time with Ha’Am, we have written 428 articles, published 12 print issues, and formed dozens of lasting friendships with one another. I am proud of my staff, and I am proud of the way that we have grown together and pushed Ha’Am to new heights. We started my first year with three dedicated individuals and now our staff boasts 33 wonderful staff members. We did not have a clear message, but now we have a brand complete with logo, merchandise, and slogan. But more importantly, we have carved a place for ourselves on this campus, in terms of Jewish life, and the UCLA Bruin community in general. Our articles are widely read and distributed through newsletters, social media, and word of mouth — no longer am I the one explaining Ha’Am’s importance. Today, people approach me, emphatic with all degrees of feedback.
The office in 118 Kerckhoff Hall is my home. It’s where I became who I am today, it’s where I fell in love, and it’s where I’ll always miss when I think about my time at UCLA. My small consolation is that I know I will be leaving my staff behind better trained and better bonded than I ever was, and that they have a wonderful group of individuals to lead them into the future.
As Ha’Am continues to grow, I am proud to see my brother, Max Nath, step into the role of editor-in-chief. I am grateful that Devorah Friedman will once again lend her strong editing hand to ensure the quality of our articles as internal managing editor. And I am delighted to see Noah Wallace become the external managing editor, working to reach out to other Jewish Bruin groups and cement our relationship with the outside community. I could not ask for a better trio of committed leaders to take over the work that has meant so much to me.
I believe that I will always be a part of Ha’Am in some capacity, and it will certainly always be a part of me. To all returning staff members, I wish you the greatest joy with Ha’Am, and encourage you to make the most of your time and push yourself to new heights. And to all my fellow graduating seniors, I thank you for the journey we have shared together and for the feats that we have accomplished as a team. I hope that you have cherished your time on staff as much as I have relished my experience leading and working alongside you.
Thank you all, for everything.
And Now a Word from the Seniors:
Angelina Ellyason — Political Science major
Ha’Am Newsmagazine has been a defining experience of my undergraduate career. It’s at Ha’Am that I was able to muster and nurture the courage to compose my thoughts into words for the world to see. It’s at Ha’Am that I made most of my closest friendships, built on a strong and genuine foundation of idea exchange, and ignited passion for Judaism and a better world. It’s at Ha’Am that I regained my appetite for exploration and discussion. It’s at Ha’Am that I regained faith in my writing and editing talents. Our weekly meetings are always a highlight of my week, and my experience as a whole has been a highlight of my UCLA experience.
Simone Dvoskin — Geography major, Russian minor
I joined Ha’Am on a whim my second year at UCLA. I figured that I liked editing papers for grammar, so I applied to be a copy editor. As I reflect on my college experience, I can say that joining Ha’Am has been one of my best decisions. In addition to getting leadership experience as head copy editor, I have made many friendships with the staff that will go far beyond my days at UCLA. My time on this newsmagazine has been worthwhile, and it has allowed me to challenge myself by (finally) writing an article and assisting in the graphics during my last quarter on campus. Ha’Am has helped shape me into the soon-to-be graduate that I am, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the wonderful staff on producing quality writing.
Samara Pals — International Development Studies major and Film, Television, and Digital Media minor
I have so much admiration for the graduating leaders of Ha’Am who have transformed this newsmagazine into such a unique student organization. Working on the Ha’Am fundraising campaign video and interviewing the members of Ha’Am, I had the opportunity to hear just how deeply Ha’Am has impacted its members. I feel so fortunate to have had a chance to contribute to Ha’Am before graduating from UCLA.
Madi Worthington — Theatre major
Even though I have not done much work for Ha’Am, being a part of the team has given me a very special opportunity. As an artist I want to be able to work with people from all backgrounds, so working with a religious student group has been a very valuable experience for me! I am extremely grateful to have been welcomed onto this team despite the fact that I am not Jewish and come from a very different perspective than most on the team. My understanding of and respect for this community has grown incredibly thanks to Ha’Am
Elyssa Schlossberg — Psychobiology major
Ha’Am has been so many things for me. A fun, close-knit community within an already close-knit community. A place of expression — even though I typically didn’t do the writing and instead encouraged others to write articles about issues I found important. A place to develop new skills. When you start out joining a group because your friend is in charge and it seems like a cool thing to do with low time commitment, and end up passionately immersed in all aspects of it both big-picture and minute, you know you’ve been a part of something special.