Students' capital home-from-home


Jewish students often look to Hillels or Jewish halls of residence to provide a home-from-home experience while at university. Yet in London, hub of the UK community, there are none serving the estimated 2,000 Jewish students.

However, tucked away off a quiet residential street in Golders Green, a kosher residential house for students and young adults is still thriving after more than 30 years.

The 26-capacity property is one of a number administered by jLiving, a community housing association providing sheltered accommodation. It is jLiving's only building set aside specifically for young adults.

Lettings manager Debbi Jackson points out that despite being somewhat under the radar, the house is always at full capacity and has a significant waiting list.

"A lot of it is word of mouth and that is the best press," she said. "If people are happy and talking about it then it has to be good thing."

The occupants are a mixture of students and young professionals, both from Britain and overseas. "We try to keep it 50-50, it makes it more balanced."

They range in age from 18 to 24, and 11 of the 2015 intake are from outside the UK. Historically, the house has always had a small group of Gibraltarians among the tenants, Ms Jackson added, and three are currently in residence."It becomes a big extended family. Like any family they have rows but there has always been a natural bond from living together."

Medical student Alan Greenstein has lived there for two years and has taken on the role of house manager. "A lot of it is being a link between the association and students in case anything goes wrong in the house," he said.

Parisian Eitan Elbazis is studying at Westminster University. He has lived in the house for two-and-a-half years.

"Coming from another country, I didn't know anyone here and the best way to adapt is to live with different people in this country. People in the house come from Manchester, Leeds and everywhere around. And it was important to me to live in a Jewish area, near synagogues and kosher restaurants."

For Paisley Lewis, the property has proved the perfect halfway house while on an internship and unable to afford high London rents.

"It's a really good place to start," she said. "It's cheaper than renting a flat."

The imposing building is a short walk from the cluster of kosher shops and restaurants at the Kosher Kingdom end of Golders Green Road. The students often sit down together for Friday night dinner and there is no shortage of locals willing to feed a group of hungry students on Shabbat. London JSocs and other organisations often use the communal facilities for events.

Each tenant has their own halls-style bedroom with bed, desk and washbasin. Bathrooms are shared and there are five large kitchens, each with a separate milk and meat section to ensure kashrut observance.

Slouchy sofas are a feature of the large communal lounge area. The weekly rent is £124.

And befitting its understated style, the building has no name. "It is known as Harmony house or Hillel House but it is neither," Ms Jackson said. "It is just 99 Princes Park Avenue."

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