Families plan for future after hearing realities of campus life

By Josh Lewis, April 25, 2013
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Dozens of sixth form pupils and their parents heard about kashrut, security issues and social activities on campuses at the Union of Jewish Students’s first university information evening.

The event informed teenagers who are applying to universities, and offered practical and financial advice to their families.

A panel of speakers — including UJS Hillel’s Gerry Lucas, Simi Ben Hur of CST and University Jewish Chaplaincy operations director Suzy Richman — answered questions from the audience.

The event, in north west London on Wednesday last week, saw UJS president Alex Green explain the role of the union and answer questions about JSocs in cities including Bristol, Durham and Liverpool.

Pupils were told of the lengths university staff go to in order to assist Jewish students and allow them to take part in religious activities on campus.

Mr Lucas highlighted a case at Durham University. He said that following the installation of a kosher kitchen on the campus a chaplain had advised students to have an eruv installed to allow them to transfer kosher meals on Shabbat.

When the university was informed of the requirements, said Mr Lucas, officials ensured the necessary poles and wire were erected within 48 hours — providing a fully functional eruv in the shadow of Durham Cathedral.

Sixth formers were also offered the opportunity to mingle with university students and JSoc leaders.

Marketing student Olivia Marks said Leeds universities offered a “community within a community” and a vibrant hub for young Jews in the city.

Nottingham JSoc president Daniel Yadid said kashrut could be a problem area and that he had chosen to maintain a vegetarian diet due to the difficulty of sourcing kosher meat.

Asked about the threat of antisemitism, Ms Ben Hur assured parents that British universities remained safe and that substantial work was being done to tackle hate crimes.

One Birmingham student, who did not want to be named, said many young Jews had limited advocacy skills and Israel education classes should be compulsory.

● Sir Victor Blank was the guest speaker at a joint Traine-Traide and UJS career networking evening.

It gave 200 students the chance to meet experts from legal, financial, fashion and other businesses.

Last updated: 8:51am, April 25 2013