Why chaplains matter on campus

By Josh Isaac, September 4, 2014
Follow The JC on Twitter

Never will UK Students be able to go even one week without the invaluable support of chaplaincy. This is the sometimes underestimated rabbinical backbone of Jewish life on campus.

Whilst some do their work alongside their dedicated spouses, some of the chaplains work tirelessly on their own to ensure that they are there for Jewish Students in a range of individual cases.

I myself had the honour to work with Rabbi Gavin Broder, the chaplain in London, when I was vice president of Brunel JSoc last year. You might think that you can’t really get an overall impression of the scale on which Chaplaincy operate when you only worked with one chaplain, in one University, in one city - but one of them is all it takes.

To be honest, London may be the biggest city in the UK, with the most universities out of all of the campus Regions, but you don’t really have to go out and see the country for yourself to realise that chaplains go above and beyond the call of duty to do what they do.

So, is it really about just making sure there are bagels on the table during the week and chicken soup is on the table on Friday Night? Of course not! Now, I haven’t seen the job application for a Jewish chaplain in the UK, but here’s what I know about what they do.

Firstly, all the Chaplains are handpicked based on their pastoral care and receive extensive training to be able to do what they do, and that means students have someone with a wealth of experience (some with over a decade) with regard to their roles and responsibilities.

A student should never feel that they are unable to approach their chaplain because of their religious background nor any other aspect of their life. If that was the case,they would be of very little use to the diverse range of students that are seen on campus up and down the country today.

Secondly, chaplains are working close with each and every university, and so are able to clearly relate to what a student goes through, and are certainly in the loop with Jewish life on campus. A Jewish student should never have to suffer discrimination of any kind nor face the challenges that university brings without a helping hand. This can include having lecturers who express antisemistism; exam clashes; drug addictions and most notably, homesickness.

I can guarantee your chaplain has more to offer than you might think and if your university life is sailing smoothly right now then just remember to thank them because we never truly know what is going on behind the scenes and we probably take a lot of what chaplains do for granted. If they have given you something then give something back and remember they know what a student goes through in all kinds of environments. All the time!

Last updated: 2:36pm, September 4 2014