With the UJS centre in Euston closing last year and many students living at home, London universities do not have a reputation for a buzzing Jewish social life.
However, two London JSocs, UCL and King’s, believe that is not true.
“At the big Jewish universities you need the JSoc because you’re away from home, there might be nowhere else to get kosher food and we know that’s not the case here,” explained Fleur Freedman, who is co-president of UCL JSoc with Shulamit Aberbach. “So we’re even more proud we’ve managed to create a community.”
Since the closure of the Euston centre, King’s and UCL now host over 50 people for an inter-JSoc Shabbat dinner at Great Portland Street Synagogue every week.
“At the first dinner, we thought we would already know everyone and knew almost no one!” Fleur said.
“We have students from all universities and a lot of exchange students and people come back to our house afterwards to hang out until late. We’ve made a lot of friends.”
Being in London means the JSocs can offer a broad range of events, top speakers and team up with other universities.
A cross-London JSocs pub quiz in December was attended by 110 students, their pub crawl was on a vintage London bus and a roller disco, sushi-making session and cocktail masterclass are all coming up.
Without a central meeting place, finding venues for speakers and operating out of a busy synagogue can be tough, but as Fleur says, speaking ahead of a busy Holocaust Memorial Day schedule “it always seems to work out in the end.”