The challenge of London student life

November 24, 2016 23:06

Having grown up in London, I was initially wary about spending the three years of my degree there.

I had dismissed several universities based on the lack of Jewish life, but that this would be relevant in London never entered my mind.

So I was surprised to find that, despite the wealth of Jewish activity in London, there were not a huge number of events that encompassed all Jewish students. Although I had been unsure as to the extent to which I wanted to involve myself in these large-scale JSoc events, it seemed that the choice was no longer mine. The few events held in the first term were diminished affairs compared to those experienced by my friends, attending universities boasting far fewer Jews than in the capital.

This seems in part due to how London Jewish life is arranged. The most interesting aspect is also its most challenging; each university has an individual JSoc, which together make up London JSoc. This would seem to afford individuals the opportunity to meet students from all over the city through collaborations between the different JSocs. But this potential has been far from realised. Organising the 20 or so universities of which London JSoc is comprised is overwhelming, meaning that events are infrequent, though well attended when they occur.

It is clear that Jewish life in central London is in need of dramatic transformation. There is a student scene in Hendon, but this is essentially inaccessible for those who are not particularly religious; and even religious students find the task of joining the tight-knit group daunting. I am sad to think that many of my peers have been deterred from living in the centre of town, or even from attending a London university, due to the present situation. This needs to change.

As Shabbat officer of London JSoc, I have been working closely with Chaplaincy and UJS to establish weekly Friday night dinners in central London from the autumn term, something that has been done before, but never on a sustained basis. These dinners will provide an occasion for Jewish students of all religious levels and of all nationalities and backgrounds to meet socially in a rather novel way. In my experience, there is a great demand for events that span institutions. It is my firm belief that this need can be satisfied by the introduction of these Friday night dinners, a fundamentally important initiative in advancing Jewish student life.

London is an incredibly vibrant city and it is the challenge of London JSoc to make it equally exciting for Jewish students.

Dina is a student at University College London

November 24, 2016 23:06

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive