Campus & Youth Notebook
Are tensions between the Israel and Palestine lobbies about to calm? In Cambridge, Jewish students reckon so. Not only have the J-Soc and Israel Society joined forces with the Palestine Society to host a joint bagel brunch next month, but in a blow to champions of the boycott the speaker will be an Israeli academic. Professor David Newman of Ben-Gurion University will talk, aptly, on his expertise — Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Daniel Gueta, J-Soc education officer, says: “It’s great that we are co-operating.”
One motion that met success at FZY was a landmark change to the movement’s founding aim of aliyah. Members argued that moving to Israel must be followed with a commitment to contribute to Israeli society through social action and communal involvement. They passed a change to the movement’s aim — which currently shares the limelight with three other aims — to “Aliyah Nimshechet”, a principle borrowed from the Reform movement to this effect. Incoming national director Jonathan Bunt praised the movement’s revised ideological stance: “I applaud the movement’s decision to ensure that, within the act of moving to Israel, engaging with our whole ideology is paramount.”
There were impassioned discussions at FZY’s annual decision-making forum (veida), when a faction moved to change the movement’s definition of the “who is a Jew?” issue. FZY is a pluralistic movement, and traditionally accepts anyone who defines themselves as Jewish. The move to impose a halachic definition of who is Jewish, and admit only those who are part of the faith according to Orthodox law, met strong opposition, and was defeated in a vote by an overwhelming majority of the 80 members in attendance.
As you will read elsewhere in this newspaper, the Limmud conference in Nottingham was a big hit. An increasingly popular part of the event is Young Limmud, the programme for those aged three to 18. This year, 235 people took part in a programme that combined fun activities with presentations given by speakers. Participants took on the role of media correspondents and produced newspapers and videos that they showcased in a closing gala. “It has become the largest residential winter activity in the Jewish community — there was even a waiting list,” claims Limmud’s executive director, Raymond Simonson.
Mind out Jamie Oliver. If anyone needs advice on nutritious school meals, they can ask Young Limmud’s teen programme. A dozen sixth-formers teamed up with the UK friends of Netanya’s Laniado Hospital to raise the profile of healthy living. They invited younger Limmud participants and their parents to attend a hands-on lunchbox-packing session. Another Young Limmud group collected clothing and toiletries which they donated to a nearby shelter for the homeless. In the two projects, youngsters “showed responsibility in action”, says Ben Levy, joint head of teenage activities.
Liberal Jewish students from the UK joined their counterparts from 12 European countries for a Shabbaton in Paris. Birminghambased Liberal Judaism fieldworker Jake Welford says the trip — the first of its kind — marked the increased provision for nonOrthodox students since his appointment in September. The programme included a talk on the history of Liberal Judaism in France. He adds: “Visiting such a beautiful city was great, but Paris was just the icing on the cake; spending Shabbat with young Jews from all over the world is what made the weekend a fantastic experience.” Participants at the Liberal Shabbaton in Paris