Freshers' Week success as JSocs welcome hundreds to campus

By Marcus Dysch, October 11, 2011
Fresh start: Leeds JSoc committee members Paisley Lewis and Emma Izon

Fresh start: Leeds JSoc committee members Paisley Lewis and Emma Izon

University Jewish societies have broken records to sign up more than 1,000 students during Freshers' Week activities and fairs.

JSocs have reported brisk business around the country, as Jewish students settle into their new homes and find their feet on campus.

The traditionally large societies, in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham each welcomed more than 100 new members, with Nottingham JSoc attracting more than 220 Freshers.

Birmingham JSoc's Jacob Betito said the committee was delighted: "We have really made an effort to show that Birmingham JSoc is open and welcome to students studying in any of the institutions around the city."

The Union of Jewish Students said it was particularly impressed with the numbers joining JSocs often seen as having smaller memberships, especially in Edinburgh and at Sussex University.

UJS developing JSocs officer Judith Flacks said more than 100 people had joined the Scottish university's society – a figure which JSoc president Mark Loughridge described as "huge".

Ms Flacks said: "Both Edinburgh and Glasgow JSocs are very excited for the coming term and I can't wait to see the amazing range of activities they will be putting on for Jewish students this year. It was a pleasure spending time with them."

In London, new JSocs have been created at University College London, London School of Economics and University of East London. They immediately attracted around 250 members.

UJS London officer Emily Black said UEL's successful recruitment was largely due to the hard work of joint presidents Yardena Lieberman and Elie Gottlieb.

Ms Black said: "They worked tirelessly to set up the JSoc. UEL might not be a place where Jewish students traditionally study, but UJS is committed to supporting Jewish campus life wherever it is in the UK."

Further success has been experienced across London, with City University and King's College each attracting 50 new JSoc members, and Kingston University, Queen Mary, and Brunel University signing up 20 each.

Oxford Brookes JSoc president Fia Weinstein said she was pleased the society had been able to attract 15 Freshers to its ranks.

UJS president Daniel Grabiner said the problem of Freshers' Fairs clashing with Yom Tov and Shabbat was "entirely avoidable".

He said: "Student unions have calendars with religious festivals on them years in advance.

"We are not asking for special treatment for Jewish students, only the same ability to sign up Freshers as any other society."

It is possible that some campuses will allow JSocs to sign up members outside the normal Freshers period due to the clashes.

Last updated: 9:52am, October 11 2011