Fes­ti­vals ver­sus fresh­ers’ week — this year you can en­joy both

The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION - BY CLAIRE CAN­TOR

AS JEWISH stu­dents un­pack their IKEA saucepans into musty stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion cup­boards, their fam­i­lies are bak­ing honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah. How do you cope with the clash be­tween yomtov and fresh­ers’ week or the first week of term?

Jewish so­ci­eties and chap­lains are there to help, with meals and ser­vices on Shab­bat and fes­ti­vals through­out the aca­demic year.

“Up and down the coun­try our chap­lains and chap­laincy cou­ples will be aim­ing to cre­ate a Jewish ‘home away from home’, by or­gan­is­ing ser­vices, build­ing suc­c­ahs, blow­ing sho­fars and pro­vid­ing meals to stu­dents on univer­sity cam­puses,” says Josh Ger­shuny, of the Univer­sity Jewish Chap­laincy or­gan­i­sa­tion. “Stu­dents should look out for our stand at fresh­ers’ fairs and leaflets in their fresh­ers’ packs.

“This year we have a new field­worker cou­ple in Brighton and full time res­i­den­tial chap­lains in Bris­tol.

“In Cam­bridge, our chap­lains will be blow­ing the sho­far from the tallest build­ing in the city, and a grand suc­cah tour will visit St An­drews, Edin- burgh and Glas­gow.

“We ex­pect a good turn-out in Leeds for the fes­ti­vals, where the chap­lains have taken over the univer­sity’s Great Hall to hold their ser­vices.”

Rabbi Zal­man Lewis, rep­re­sent­ing Chabad in Sus­sex, says his job is to help Jewish stu­dents en­gage with Ju­daism.

“This year fresh­ers’ week co­in­cides with Rosh Hashanah, so some stu­dents may feel con­flicted.

“Jewish stu­dents in Sus­sex are gen­er­ally from a tra­di­tional back­ground, but have cho­sen not to go to a “Jewniver­sity”. This can make things more dif­fi­cult for them if they want to stay con­nected, but also more ful­fill­ing when they do.

“Reg­u­lar free din­ners, ser­vices and sho­far blow­ing take place in Sus­sex and Kent and we also of­fer meals be­fore and af­ter the Yom Kip­pur fast.

“We try to make it easy for stu­dents to find us through leaflets and posters on the key bridges around cam­pus and I visit stu­dents in Can­ter­bury, and Southamp­ton ev­ery week.”

At a big “Jewniver­sity”, Not­ting­ham, where Yom Kip­pur falls at the end of fresh­ers’ week, Chabad lays on meals be­fore and af­ter the fast, open to all.

“Last year we had a mar­quee as there were over 200 peo­ple,” says Rabbi Mendy Lent, with pride. “There’s no need to book. We al­ways over-cater as some peo­ple re­alise it’s Yom Kip­pur 10 min­utes be­fore the fast be­gins, or de­cide at the last minute to stay at uni for the fes­ti­vals.”

Maya Skaar­bre­vik, field worker for Jen­er­a­tion, the stu­dent out­reach project of Re­form Ju­daism trav­els around the coun­try vis­it­ing uni­ver­si­ties with large and small Jewish pop­u­la­tions.

“We want stu­dents con­nected with Jen­er­a­tion to feel as though they have the space to prac­tise the style of Ju­daism they are used to,” she says.

“Our stu­dent chap­lains for Re­form and Lib­eral Ju­daism are ready to pro­vide spir­i­tual and pas­toral sup­port and stu­dents can book a freeof-charge seat at their lo­cal Re­form syn­a­gogue through the Jen­er­a­tion High Holy Day ticket scheme.”

Chap­lains aim to cre­ate a Jewish home away from home’

www.my­chap­laincy.co.uk www.Jen­er­a­tion.org www.chabadon­cam­pusuk.org

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