The academic year is off to a busy start for Chabad on Campus in the UK.
On campuses in Bloomsbury, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh Leeds, Nottingham, Oxford, South Kensington and South London, Chabad centres catered for in excess of one thousand students over the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot festivals.
“For many students – especially those coming from the United States to study – this was their only High Holiday experience,” says Rabbi Mendy Loewenthal, director of Chabad of South Kensington, where 80 students attended Rosh Hashanah meals.
With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur falling outside the university term, Chabad was the only Jewish organisation offering meals and services to students on many university campuses.
“Although many traditional students from spend the festivals at home with their families, there are hundreds of unaffiliated students in need of a home away from home,” explains Rabbi Eli Brackman, director of Oxford University Chabad Society.
“The huge number of new and returning students attending Chabad centres on campuses up and down the country is testament to the fact that many unaffiliated students have a desire to explore rather than ignore their Jewish identity.”
In Nottingham, where Chabad on Campus has been operating for the past year, Rabbi Mendy Lent worked in cooperation with the Jewish Society to gain permission from the University to have a sukkah on campus.
At the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan campuses a pop-up sukkah attracted over 250 students to shake lulav and etrog.
“The sukkah on campus lifted the pride of Jewish students,” says Rabbi Michoel Danow, director of Leeds Student Chabad House.
Sushi in the Sukkah drew crowds of students to Chabad of Edinburgh during Sukkot.
“For some students, it was their first time sitting in a sukka,” says Rabbi Pinny Weinman, director of Chabad of Edinburgh.