Two of the country’s newest, and smallest, Jewish Societies are enjoying success less than a year after being set up.
Loughborough University now has its first JSoc, founded by second year student Laura Baker.
The 19-year-old said she was spurred into action after being disappointed at last year’s Freshers’ Fair.
“I came to the fair last year hoping to find something Jewish and I walked around for 15 minutes looking for JSoc and found nothing,” said Laura.
“People looked back with blank faces not knowing what a JSoc was. I realised that if I wanted to meet other Jewish students I would have to organise it myself”.
The industrial design student received help from University Jewish Chaplaincy after visiting friends in Nottingham. Rabbi Zvi Bloom covers the East Midlands area and will travel to Loughborough to assist Laura throughout the year.
“Slowly we have started having meetings every two weeks as well as a few lunches,” said Laura. “There were about five of us coming on a regular basis initially.”
This year’s Freshers’ Fair featured a JSoc stall and the group has now applied to the university’s students’ union for official society status.
Heythrop College, London, founded a JSoc in February. The small group, headed by students Abigail Kay and Natasha Mann, has only around four Jewish members, but attracts up to 30 people to events.
Its success, particularly among non-Jewish students, can be attributed to the college’s special theology and philosophy status and the interest shown in religious issues throughout the college.
Events have included lectures on religion, a trip to the Jewish Museum in Camden, north London, and a mock Seder. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, a front-runner in the race to be the next Chief Rabbi, will give a lecture later this year.
The society receives funding and organisational assistance from the Union of Jewish Students.