Hundreds join JSocs as campus life kicks off

By Marcus Dysch, October 7, 2010
Fresh approach: Students return to their campus in Leeds

Fresh approach: Students return to their campus in Leeds

University Jewish societies are enjoying a busy start to the academic year with hundreds of new members taking part in Freshers' Week events across the country.

With the majority of students arriving on their campuses in the weeks clashing with Succot and Simchat Torah, many JSocs ran succah-based introductions to university life. Barbecues and Shabbat dinners led the way as the most popular events.

In Birmingham, chaplain Fishel Cohen and family hosted a "supper in the succah" night. JSoc-organised events including a barbecue, dinner, Simchat Torah party and Nando's-style Shabbat dinner attracted more than 700 people. Around 100 Freshers signed up to JSoc.

Term kicked off at Leeds JSoc with a beer, Pimms and nargillah night at the Hillel student centre. More than 90 freshers signed up to join the society before taking part in Succot services, a Friday night dinner and a barbecue.

Manchester JSoc was inundated with students signing up at both universities in the city. Its opening event was a Freshers' barbecue.

Around 300 students attended the "Down it Wej" bar crawl. A Simchat Torah party, preceding the annual Freshers' Friday Night dinner, was also a success.

Among the new events planned for this year are challah-baking sessions.

Nottingham JSoc oversaw two Freshers' weeks covering both the city's main university and Nottingham Trent uni.

They held two Succot feasts, traditional Shabbat meals and a barbecue, before rounding off the fortnight with a Freshers' bar crawl.

New regular weekly sessions for the current term include girls' yoga and workouts, football power league for the boys, a volunteering scheme and a "food for thought" programme.

Main events in the pipeline include Friday night dinners based on Mexican, Indian, Ethiopian, interfaith and Oscars themes.

More than 30 students signed up to Liverpool JSoc during Freshers' Week. An oneg was held on erev Succot for the new committee to introduce themselves. The highlight of Freshers' activity on Merseyside was a Magical Mystery Tour around the city, enjoyed by around 40 people. Future events include a paintballing day, and weekly shiurim by Rabbi YY Rubinstein.

There was similar success at Oxford, with 60 new Chabad society members signing up at Oxford Brookes University alone.

A pre-term drinks night in Mayfair marked the start of Cambridge JSoc's annual festivities. Around 25 Freshers had the chance to meet committee members and prepare for a term packed with events.

Once on campus they also indulged in a round of introductory meals and Yom Tov dinners, including an inaugural "Cholent Society" event.

Newcastle JSoc, supported by the city's Jewish community, took students on a Succah crawl, visiting four locations in and around the Gosforth area. Food on offer included falafel, pitta and hummus.

Rabbi Yonosan Golomb and family were on hand to welcome new Jewish students in Sheffield. They opened their home for a "pizza in the Succah" evening in conjunction with Sheffield JSoc.

Jewish students in Aberdeen, the home of the country's most northern JSoc, also celebrated Succot with a barbecue attended by around 15 students and northern region chaplain Rabbi Garry Wayland.

In St Andrews, students arriving early for term joined Yom Kippur services in Dundee, before enjoying a bagel lunch with 20 new JSoc members for Succot.

Around 80 people signed up for information emails at the Freshers' fair, and the first major JSoc event of the year, a Friday night dinner, attracted around 60 people.

It is also planning fortnightly Shabbatons and will host a Northern Region weekend for the first time.

Imperial College JSoc's first social event of the year was a meet and greet Häagen-Dazs night for members old and new.

Hull JSoc signed up 16 new members during Freshers' Week and held an introductory drinks evening at the university union.

A Freshers' bagel brunch and pub crawl marked the start of the new year for Exeter JSoc.

Last updated: 4:48pm, October 7 2010