Campus and Youth Notebook
The affairs of Jewish students have caused a stir in the American press this week. At New York’s Pace University, Hillel — the equivalent of a J-Soc — planned to screen a film called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. Hillel president Michael Abdurakhmanov was quoted in The New York Times saying that Muslim students complained and a dean subsequently told him not to show the film, and threatened to call the police if he did. In a statement published through Israel advocacy website standwithus.com, Abdurakhmanov says: “We believe the school administration used intimidating tactics to prevent us from showing the movie Obsession.” Another proIsrael website ( democracy-project. com), claiming to co-ordinate his media campaign, posted an email saying that a reconciliatory meeting was being arranged between Abdurakhmanov, Hillel and Pace bosses.
Tribe, the United Synagogue’s youth wing, has taken its campus ambassador scheme international… well, to Scotland anyway. Tribe has built up a list of campus reps, called ambassadors, in Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London and Manchester. They run events and strengthen Orthodox life at university. The latest addition to the team is St Andrew’s University student Rachel Lovering. Tribe’s fieldworker Daniel Collins explains that while the US does not have synagogues in Scotland, many students there come from England and, as such, fall within its remit.
A Birmingham synagogue has moved to cement good relations with the city’s large Jewish student population. From next month, Birmingham Hebrew Congregation will hold Shabbat lunches for students. The once-a-month lunch is “an initiative that we hope will get more students to become a part of our community,” says Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, the congregation’s assistant minister. And the best part is that the cost is on the house, or rather on the shul.
Up in Oxford, the ever-growing Chabad there has now announced it is opening a yeshivah-style beit midrash or study hall. Students can go along any Monday, individually or in pairs, to Chabad’s city-centre base, and director Rabbi Eli Brackman will give them all the help they need to make their way through religious texts of their choosing. Rabbi Brackman hopes it will attract everyone from seasoned Talmud experts to pairs of students who meet up to learn the Hebrew alphabet together.
In the past three years, Brusselsbased Yossi Waks has become a familiar name to Jewish students across Europe. After all, in this time he has run events for 16,000 people as head of the European Centre for Jewish Students, a social and educational organisation that arranges retreats and seminars, as well as putting J-Socs in different areas in touch with each other. He left his post this week to move to New York, and wrote in an open letter of the growth he has effected in ECJS. His mailing list “started with an email list of 18 well-wishers — ie my immediate family! Today the ECJS database has a record number of 26,627 students on it.”
this week. One university where the programme bears no resemblance to last year’s is the University of London, where the student union has expanded it beyond all recognition. Beginning on Monday, there will be a panel discussion entitled “The Age of Genocide”, a talk by the Chief Rabbi, and an address by Holocaust survivor Mala Tribbich. Politicians, including Simon Hughes MP, will speak at a symposium — “How the Holocaust has affected London and Londoners” — to close proceedings next Friday. Organiser Daniel Snowdon says: “The need is to promote greater understanding to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and that is the overarching message of the events.”
Universities across the country will be starting their annual events for National Holocaust Memorial Day