Expectations high as Leeds leads
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.”