Overcome the hurdles and enjoy the positives

By Marcus Dysch, September 15, 2011
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Best days of our lives: revellers at a Jeneration bar crawl in Nottingham

Best days of our lives: revellers at a Jeneration bar crawl in Nottingham

The new year on campus will bring tough challenges for Jewish students and the organisations which serve them so admirably.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be working around the NUS's anti-Israel policies, adopted last May. The prospect of British student unions twinning with Hamas-backed institutions in Gaza, or sending students on flotillas, will inevitably increase tension on campus.

But, as we note elsewhere in this week's paper, UJS has big ideas for the months to come. The organisation's desire to engage directly with students across the country, to get out and about on campuses and reconnect with the grassroots, is to be commended.

Jewish Societies the length of the country are the lifeblood of UJS, and their members remain dependent in many cases on their local committees organising speakers and charity fund- raising, providing kosher meals, and planning the biggest and best social nights of the year.

The country's biggest JSocs, in the cities that have become a second home to thousands of young Jews, will continue to provide such facilities week in, week out.

But aside from the vibrancy of Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham, others face challenges of a different nature.

No Jewish student will go without on campus

Northumbria University's JSoc has been dissolved, and 10 students must now be found in order to initiate a new society before Freshers' Week.

In Hull, difficulties convincing the university of the need for kosher food provision on campus remain a thorn in the side.

To be truly successful, UJS and its Hillel sister organisation must continue to ensure that no one disappears through the cracks and is allowed to slip away from Jewish life.

There are an ever-growing multitude of groups working aside from those mainstream organisations to make sure those from every background have someone to turn to at university.

University Jewish Chaplaincy continues to grow. Its services now spread across almost all of Britain. Its chaplains, fresh from their Mount Snowdon fundraising climb, will again serve up thousands of Shabbat meals and offer advice to those with nowhere to turn.

Rapidly spreading across the country, Chabad is the up-and-coming force in Jewish campus life. Its rabbis now cover more universities than ever before and can be ranked alongside Tribe and Jeneration as a serious force for good.

Liberal Judaism will also seek to make an impression. The organisation has installed its own chaplain, Rabbi Ariel Friedlander, and is already sending packs of food and goodies to its 150 students around the country for the High Holy Days.

The release next month of the results of the National Jewish Student Survey, run by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, will reveal more information about what Jewish students think, and want, from their lives than has ever been available before. It should be an eye-opening experience.

What we already know is that the wealth of services available to everyone, regardless of their religious background, wealth or location, means no Jewish student has to go without this year.

JC On Campus will continue to bring you all the latest news, features and comment from universities across the country.

    Last updated: 2:11pm, September 15 2011