Ex­pec­ta­tions high as Leeds leads

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NAOMI FIRSHT

THE NEW term got off to a fly­ing start for Jewish stu­dents in Leeds, with more than 100 fresh­ers join­ing the Jewish So­ci­ety, a new kosher halls of res­i­dence, and the ar­rival of Aish “cou­ple-on-cam­pus” Rabbi Adam and Anna Ross.

Leeds Univer­sity, which boasts one of the big­gest Jewish stu­dent pop­u­la­tions in Bri­tain, has two halls of res­i­dence where stu­dents can re­quest to be in a kosher shared flat.

The new­est of the two, Leodis, has how­ever ex­pe­ri­enced some teething prob­lems — the only way to en­ter the build­ing is with an elec­tronic fob, pos­ing a prob­lem for stu­dents who keep Shab­bat.

Leeds JSoc pres­i­dent, Grace Diamond, has been work­ing with the hall’s staff to make reg­u­lar keys avail­able.

She said: “I felt bad that they were be­ing morally com­pro­mised to live some­where nice. It means it can be an op­tion for stu­dents next year.”

Ms Diamond es­ti­mates that there are be­tween 200 and 300 JSoc mem­bers in Leeds, out of around 800 Jewish stu­dents in the West York­shire city.

For the so­ci­ety’s first Fri­day night din­ner, the com­mit­tee was pre­par­ing to welcome more than 100 stu­dents.

The JSoc works with other stu­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions on cam­pus, in­clud­ing Univer­sity Jewish Chap­laincy, Chabad

Rabbi Adam Ross and his wife Anna and chil­dren are ready for the new term and Aish, and Ms Diamond is en­thu­si­as­tic about the year ahead.

“With the Leodis sit­u­a­tion, it’s not some­thing that is im­per­a­tive for me, but it is im­por­tant for some­one else. I en­joy be­ing able to help and ac­com­mo­date them so they can en­joy their stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

But­shead­mit­tedtha­trun­ningalarge JSoc can be hard work: “It can get emo- tion­ally tir­ing. I am 20 and I’m also here to go to univer­sity. I can be­come a bit of a worka­holic. Peo­ple have to re­mind me to eat and to go to bed.”

Rabbi Ross and his fam­ily ar­rived in Leeds from Is­rael last month and have al­ready hosted a bar­be­cue for 80 stu­dents at the end of Fresh­ers’ Week.

The Rosses are the new rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Aish. As part of their work they will run the Ge­n­e­sis ed­u­ca­tional scheme for stu­dents on Leeds cam­puses.

As part of the Ge­n­e­sis pro­gramme, co-or­gan­ised by the Jewish Learn­ing Ex­change, stu­dents at­tend weekly talks and events. Depend­ing on how many ses­sions stu­dents at­tend they can then re­ceive schol­ar­ships for Ge­n­e­sis trips to Europe and Is­rael.

Rabbi Ross, orig­i­nally from Read­ing, Berk­shire, will also host stu­dents for Shab­bat and fes­ti­val meals.

The 36-year-old said: “I’m look­ing for­ward to just be­ing a part of the lives of stu­dents here, to be­ing their friend and a sup­port for them.

“We want our home to be a place where peo­ple can feel they are a part of our fam­ily.

“We want stu­dents to feel at ease with us, be­cause when you are up in Leeds and away from fam­ily, your friends be­come your fam­ily.”

Rabbi Ross said dur­ing the 10 years he spent liv­ing in Is­rael he was in­volved in Jewish ed­u­ca­tion, while work­ing in jobs in­clud­ing mar­ket­ing.

Be­fore he made aliyah he had been head of ed­u­ca­tion at the Hanoar Hatzioni youth move­ment.

“The de­sire to be in­volved in ed­u­ca­tion never re­ally left,” he said. “I see this as an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing of mean­ing, to in­spire and strengthen Jewish iden­ti­ties.”

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