Rabbi urges students: be proud of your faith


As an ambassador for University Jewish Chaplaincy, Rabbi Jonathan Hughes visits schools and encourages pupils to embrace their Jewish identities as they move to university.

It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that, growing up, he was more likely to become a footballer than a rabbi - and he only found Judaism at the age of 18.

"I grew up in Reading, with a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father," Rabbi Hughes said. "We weren't practising, so it wasn't until I went to UCL to study law, and met a religious Jew in my very first lecture, that I learnt about it."

He developed a love for the faith, and eight years later returned from Israel as a rabbi with his growing family in tow. He is now moving from Richmond to become the spiritual head of Radlett shul in Hertfordshire.

But he remains committed to visiting Jewish pupils in non-Jewish schools. This year, he made trips to schools including Eton, St Pauls, Highgate and Henrietta Barnet.

"I speak to sixth-form students so that they know what is on offer at university," he said. "We want them to be proud of being Jewish.

"I experienced it from both sides - living secularly and non-secularly. I know how much there is to gain."

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