Student chaplaincy around the country is under threat because of the economic downturn, the annual meeting of Northern Region Chaplaincy was told at Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation on Sunday.
Meeting chair Nicola Livingston stressed the importance of stepping up efforts to find funding for a new regional chaplaincy couple following the departure of Rabbi Dovid and Sora Cohen in July after 14 years of service.
Without the £25,000 that is to be sought in Scotland, recruitment would be problematic, she said. The region also incorporates North-East England.
During the first term of the academic year, fieldworkers Gabby Houri and Tanya Stone hosted Shabbat meals and educational and social events, supported by local rabbis. Scottish-Israeli law graduate Adam Nouri has now been appointed as a permanent fieldworker.
But Ms Livingston emphasised that fieldworkers were not a long-term substitute for a chaplain.
“We have students who have been bereaved and need counselling. Also, because of the political situation in the Middle East, campuses can be rough places for Jewish students at the moment. Only a chaplain can provide that kind of support.”
Nonetheless, involvement in Jewish societies in the region remained strong with record numbers of new recruits, notably at St Andrews, where membership had reached 80.