Campus and Youth Notebook
Desperate for a good degree result? Try prayer. Not because God will take pity on your failure to revise, but because otherwise, your lecturers may slash your grades. At New York’s Yeshiva University, participants of an undergraduate programme have been told they will lose credits if they skip services. College publication The Commentator says that while daily attendance at the uni synagogue has always been mandatory in theory, the decision to give it the clout of one credit (around five per cent of a year’s grade) is new. It cites programme director Rabbi Zev Reichman saying that the course views Judaism “as a holistic experience, and so the day doesn’t start at nine. It starts at eight, when we daven together.” He says the move has precedent in sports courses that penalise students for missing matches, adding: “Nobody is going to mark someone on whether or not they daven, but people will be marked on whether or not they come.” An angry student is quoted, saying: “When you’re dealing with 18- to 23-year-olds, this isn’t the approach you should have. It should be everyone’s own choice to feel they need to talk to God.” Since Mr Cameron’s speech back in July calling for greater understanding of young people, the nickname for his platform — “hug a hoodie” — has entered the mainstream vocabulary. But has Mr Cameron himself had the pleasure? We can exclusively report that the answer is now… yes. After his Leeds appearance, hosts gave him his very own UJS hooded sweatshirt (pictured top). Students in Leeds met David Cameron last Friday, in an encounter dominated by the subject of widespread animosity against J-Socs. Concerns were raised to the Tory leader about the recent success of the Palestine lobby in stripping the J-Soc of certain rights to complain in the university union. Students stressed that their concerns were not limited to Leeds, but applied to campuses in general. They said that universities are microcosms of society at large, where tensions — especially antisemitism — tend to be magnified. The Tory leader did little more than smile and nod, but students enthused about the event. “It was the ultimate event for Jewish students,” reported one J-Soc member. “UJS brings someone in for us to complain to — great.” Last week, the JC reported that NUS had finally spoken out about the concerns of Jewish students (as raised to Mr Cameron in Leeds). Worry not, though. Following this bout of activism, normal service has now been resumed at the union, and staff have since been seemingly… watching Celebrity Big Brother. Such is the programme’s supposed importance to students that NUS sent out a blanket press release to the media, declaring itself “concerned” about goings-on in the TV programme. Needless to say that comparatively trivial matters like the aforementioned Jew-hatred have not merited such a press statement. It seems that the existing reality-TV choices are a bit old hat anyway. Back in the autumn, we reported that a new organisation had been set up for Sephardi students, as most events tend to presume an Ashkenazi background. The group, Young Sephardim, will host I’m a Sephardi — Get Me Out of Here! a week on Sunday. Taking off the ITV show, organisers will recreate a jungle environment to celebrate Tu Bishvat, the new year for trees. And given it is being held in Lauderdale Road Synagogue, it is safe to assume there will not be any of the worms or other yucky delicacies that have made the TV programme famous. The University of Essex has an unusual Holocaust Memorial Day event planned for tonight, with a local synagogue due to transport its service to campus. The Orthodox Colchester and District Jewish Community will hold its regular Friday-night service at the university, joined by students and staff from all faiths. The normal liturgy will be followed by special service of memorial prayers and an address by survivor Dora Love.
Did anyone tell him you can wear it, as well as cuddle it?