Warwick JSoc: Stepping out of Birmingham's shadow

The new president of Warwick University’s Jewish Society believes the time has come for the group to step out of the shadows of its neighbours in Birmingham.

Guy Israel and his eight-strong committee are working hard to establish Warwick JSoc as an independent force in the collective psyche of Jewish students, both in Britain and abroad.

The 18-year-old accounting and finance student, from Antwerp, Belgium, said: “We have about 80 members and around half usually turn up to the weekly Friday-night dinner and a bagel lunch every Wednesday. We regularly have nights out and social events — bowling, clubbing.”

The JSoc includes the university’s Israel Society after the two merged a number of years ago. “It’s actually called the Jewish-Israel Society,” said Guy. “Usually a university would have two societies but Warwick has a very high number of international students and the Israelis used to go to their society rather than JSoc. This way we have the best of both worlds.”

As well as the off-campus Hillel House, the JSoc also has use of a kosher kitchen on the campus, supported by the university’s chaplaincy service.

Rabbi Fishel Cohen, chaplain for Birmingham and the West Midlands, also visits every week, bringing a range of kosher supplies.

Next week marks the society’s high point of the year — the annual Shabbaton weekend beginning on February 12.

Guy said: “We often feel a little dependent on Birmingham, so we want to break away a bit. The Shabbaton allows us to do that with the Arabian nights-themed dinner and speakers.

“We hope to build on these events where people come to us rather than us relying on others. We are working hard to stand on our own two feet.”

Last updated: 5:22pm, February 4 2010