NEWS

Prime Minister’s Announcement in Challenging Times

The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 09/05/24

Pre-Pesach edition, April 2024

Dear Friend,

This morning, I had the privilege of attending a crucial meeting with the Prime Minister, government Ministers, vice-chancellors from distinguished universities, UJS and CST, regarding the appalling situation that Jewish students are facing on campuses up and down the country. Vice-chancellors were given the opportunity to describe the steps they are taking to protect Jewish students from intimidation and antisemitism. The Secretary of State for Education together with the other Ministers present expressed their concerns over the increasingly hostile environment on campus and leant on the university leaders to take appropriate action to keep their universities safe and welcoming to all. 

During the meeting, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to announce the significant funding pledge of £500,000 from the Department of Education to University Jewish Chaplaincy over the next three years. This funding is a vital step in addressing the severe challenges Jewish students have faced, especially following the traumatic events since October 7 2023, and we are very grateful for the support and recognition.

In response to the Government’s funding pledge to UJC, our Chairman, Uri Goldberg, said the following; “Since Hamas’ terrorist attacks on October 7, 2023, Jewish students and Chaplains have endured a relentless barrage of antisemitism on campuses across the country. Throughout this time, our Chaplains have worked tirelessly to provide residential faith-based welfare support to our Jewish students as they continue their courses as best they can in the midst of continuous waves of hatred and disruption.

Whilst there is much more that needs to be done, today’s Government funding is unequivocal recognition of the challenges our students have faced, and we are immensely grateful to the Prime Minister and the Department for Education for their support at this unprecedented time.

We hope that the Government roundtable with Vice Chancellors from some of the UK’s leading universities will result in tangible actions to address the hate-fuelled atmosphere and antisemitic abuse that currently exists on British campuses.”

To read more of the Prime Minister’s statement please click here.

As we reflect on the recent Pesach celebrations on our campuses, we are reminded of the enduring spirit of resilience and community that defines us.

Our students have demonstrated remarkable strength and unity, celebrating our traditions and sharing the richness of Jewish life with their peers.

This Pesach, Chaplains hosted and distributed over 600 meals across various campuses. Pesach Seders were organised on both nights, with hundreds of students in attendance, which were deeply meaningful and incredibly diverse, with some students participating in their first-ever Seder. The celebrations also included a Pesach Friday afternoon schnitzel lunch, Shabbat gatherings and Yom Tov BBQs.

However, the onset of the exam season has brought with it new challenges.

As you will no doubt be aware, encampments have been established across various universities in the UK, some of which have regrettably included elements of antisemitic rhetoric, violence and actions that directly impact our Jewish students. This situation is deeply concerning, as the university environment should be a safe and inclusive space for all students. Chaplains together with their student body have made robust representations to university officials regarding the concerns and intimidation that these encampments are causing. 

Incidents of Concern:
– At Warwick, the establishment of encampments coincided with the university’s open day, with statements made that directly targeted the Jewish community.
– In Leeds, incidents of problematic behaviour surrounding the protests and antisemitic graffiti emanating from the encampment continue to be challenging.
– Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol and other cities have also seen similar protests, some of which included deeply troubling chants and actions.

Our response has been swift and coordinated. University Jewish Chaplaincy, alongside the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), has been actively engaging with university authorities to address these issues directly. We have insisted that antisemitism and all forms of hatred must be unequivocally condemned and that measures are taken to protect all students from intimidation and harm.

Our Actions:
  • Meetings with vice-chancellors and university staff to ensure that Jewish students are not only heard but also supported.
  • Supporting Jewish societies (JSocs) in their efforts to promote understanding and dialogue on campus.
  • Providing safe spaces in Chaplains’ homes where students can feel supported 
  • Keeping students aware of where the protests are happening and advising on alternative routes 
  • Working with campus security and CST to monitor and respond to incidents swiftly.
Our focus remains on supporting our students and ensuring their wellbeing during these testing times. We are committed to fostering an environment where Jewish students can thrive, free from hostility and discrimination.

Your continued support is crucial. It enables us to advocate effectively, provide resources, and ensure that Jewish life on campus remains vibrant and secure. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students and uphold the values of respect and inclusivity.

Thank you for standing with us. Your solidarity empowers our community to face these challenges with courage and determination.

Warm regards,

Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

Celebrating Purim, Upcoming Sedarim, and Our Thanks to You

The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 05/04/24

Pre-Pesach edition, April 2024

Dear Friend, 

As the second term draws to a close and we prepare for the final term on campus I wanted to share some highlights from our Purim celebrations on campus, an update on our Pesach preparations and heartfelt thanks for the support we have received from you all over this difficult period.

Our Purim celebrations were nothing short of spectacular and truly captured the essence of our students’ resilience and spirit. In Edinburgh, an impressive turnout of 95 students set sail on a boat, diving into the festivities with a megillah reading on the water followed by a Purim seuda. Meanwhile, in Nottingham over 70 students attended a packed Purim party, which started with two separate megillah readings, ensuring as many students as possible could participate in the mitzvah of Purim.

Despite term having already finished in Leeds, many students stayed on so they could celebrate Purim with their friends and Chaplains with a casino themed evening. In London over 250 students celebrated Purim at a jointly organised event which attracted students from the many London universities perfectly encapsulating the joy and unity of Purim. These events did more than just highlight our vibrant cultural fabric; they provided a platform for students from various campuses to come together, strengthening bonds, honouring our traditions, proudly participating in the mitzvah of Purim and creating memories that will be cherished for years to come.

April 2024 campus images

Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce that we will be holding Passover Sedarim on campuses across the UK. Pesach rarely coincides with term and as such University Jewish Chaplaincy is preparing for a significant demand for support over the holiday. Celebrating Pesach on campus during term time is a huge operational and financial undertaking and we are here for it! Ensuring that students can access kosher for Pesach food and a Seder as they begin the new term is a priority, and we’re dedicated to making this Pesach accessible, meaningful, and welcoming for all. Whether a student has attended a Seder every year of their life or this will be a first, we invite all students to join us for a night of storytelling, tradition, and community. For more details please reach out to our Chaplains here.

Seder plate
Exam Clash Advocacy

On a more serious note, we’ve been hard at work addressing the issue of exam clashes with Pesach and Shavuot. So far, we’ve successfully navigated approximately 65 potential conflicts, ensuring that our students do not have to choose between  academic responsibilities and their right to practice their faith. This effort is ongoing, and while we are having some difficult and drawn out discussions with some universities we remain committed to advocating for the religious needs of our student community.

Please reach out if you encounter or anticipate any clash – we’re here to support you.

Exams image

Lastly, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported us during our recent campaign. Your generosity, whether through time, donations or words of encouragement, has been incredibly impactful. It is your support that enables us to continue our work, celebrate our Jewish traditions and identities on campus, and provide for our student community in meaningful ways.

Student quotes

We are profoundly grateful for your continued support and involvement.

University Jewish Chaplaincy is here for all students, whether for celebration, support during exam times, or to provide a sense of community and belonging. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there’s any way we can assist you or if you’d like to be involved in our upcoming events.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Chag Kasher VeSameach,

Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

Be Part of the Solution

The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 29/02/24

Dear friend

I hope this message finds you well and safe. As a valued member of our University Jewish Chaplaincy family, your steadfast support gives us the ability to serve thousands of Jewish students across the UK. Today, I reach out to you amidst circumstances that demand our immediate and united action.

As you will all be aware, since October 7th, the atmosphere on campus for Jewish students has been truly challenging. The escalation of tensions, the ensuing difficulties and the alarming rise in campus antisemitism have made our mission to provide welfare and pastoral support to Jewish students more critical than ever. It is during these trying times that our collective resolve is tested, and our shared commitment to fostering a nurturing environment for Jewish life on campus becomes paramount.

We are at a pivotal moment, and it is with a sense of urgency that I invite you to join us to be part of the solution and join us as a Champion, in our “Crisis on Campus” campaign. This initiative is not merely a call to raise funds; it is a rallying cry to ensure that Jewish life not only continues on our campuses but thrives in the face of adversity.

As a Champion, you will play a vital role in this 36-hour fundraising endeavor on the 13 and 14 March 2024. By having a page, sharing our story, and reaching out to your network, you can make a tangible difference. Your involvement will amplify our message, rally much-needed support, and provide the resources necessary to address the immediate needs of our students and bolster our ongoing programmes.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Become a Champion: Sign up to create your personal fundraising page. We will provide all the resources you need to get started.
  • Spread the Word: Use your voice on social media, email, and in conversations to share the importance of our cause and your personal commitment to it.
  • Engage Your Network: Encourage friends, family, and colleagues to contribute. Every donation, no matter the size, brings us closer to our goal.

Your support is instrumental in navigating this crisis. Together, we can ensure that our students not only face these challenges but emerge stronger, bolstered by the knowledge that their community stands behind them unwaveringly.

Please join us in this critical mission. Your action today is a powerful statement of solidarity and hope for Jewish students across campuses. For instructions on becoming a Champion and for more information about the “Crisis on Campus” campaign, please click here.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to University Jewish Chaplaincy and the students we serve. Together, we can make a difference.

Warm regards,

Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

Our Chaplains continue to support students across campuses

Urgent Update: Antisemitic Incidents and Collaborative Response

The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 15/02/24

I hope this message finds you well despite the ongoing and difficult news from Israel and the UK. I am writing after a week of distressing developments on campus and indeed across the country, to update you on the actions being taken in response to these antisemitic incidents affecting our whole community.

Last Thursday our Chaplaincy couple in Leeds, Rabbi Zecharia and Nava Deutsch, were subjected to a campaign of abusive calls including threats to their life after Rabbi Deutsch had returned from serving as a reservist in the IDF. Following the advice received, the couple and their two children temporarily left their home as a result of these vile and dangerous threats. You can read the Daily Mail article here. We were also disgusted by the antisemitic graffiti and vandalism that was plastered across Hillel House in Leeds on the same evening. We’re struggling to process these horrific incidents and thank the community for the outpouring of support we have received for both the students and Chaplains. 

In light of these alarming incidents, University Jewish Chaplaincy (UJC) is actively engaged in collaborative efforts with various organisations and authorities. We are working closely with the Community Security Trust (CST), West Yorkshire Police, Leeds Jewish Society (JSoc), Leeds Jewish Representative Council (LJRC), Government representatives, the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Board of Deputies (BoD) and the authorities at University of Leeds. Our collective goal is to ensure the safety of our Jewish students and Chaplaincy staff on campus and take a clear stand against the noisy and malicious minority who are trying to intimidate us. 

We are extremely grateful for the proactive response of the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeship and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, who, upon learning of the antisemitic abuse and violent threats, requested a meeting with Rabbi Zecharia and Nava Deutsch, along with our Chair, Uri Goldberg, and myself. Minister Halfon expressed his utmost support for the couple and their continued role at the university, emphasising the Government’s commitment to combat antisemitism on campus. We deeply appreciate his unwavering support during these challenging times, you can read Robert Halfon’s commitment to tackling antisemitism on campus here.

Yesterday, Uri and I met with Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Interim Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Leeds, and other senior university officials to discuss the ongoing situation. The university has unequivocally condemned the antisemitism, anti-Jewish vandalism, and despicable intimidation faced by Jewish students and Chaplains on his campus. We support the university’s commitment to root out antisemitism on campus and eagerly anticipate working collaboratively to re-establish a safe and welcoming environment for all Jewish students at Leeds under the leadership of the Deutschs. To read the University of Leeds’ full statement please click here. 

Regrettably, we must also address recent incidents at University of Birmingham, where protestors harassed Jewish students, calling for “death to Zionists” and demanding “Zionists off our campus”. This has left our students scared and heartbroken. We, alongside our partners, including UJS, are actively working to ensure that University of Birmingham takes immediate and decisive action to address this antisemitic hatred that has festered on campuses for too long. In response to this threatening protest our Chaplain in Birmingham, Rabbi Fishel Cohen, together with the JSoc and UJS, met with The Provost, Director of Student Affairs, Chief of Staff, President, and representatives from the Guild of Students where various action points were agreed.

Messages of support from the community:

… The Good Work Continues
Despite the challenges, our Chaplains have been tirelessly organising engaging events, bringing Jewish students together to help them lead a normal student life. We are pleased to share some highlights from campuses around the country:
  • Nottingham: A fun and noisy karaoke and cocktails evening, providing students with a lively and enjoyable break from the stress of daily life.
  • Edinburgh: Over 100 students attended Friday night dinner where Joel Azulay from Tribe spoke to them about the opportunities they offer to students, including the upcoming Tribe Poland trip. For more information click here.
  • Lancaster: A lunch & learn session, offering an opportunity for students to engage in intellectual discussions while enjoying a meal together.
  • Liverpool: A supper event, allowing students to come together over good food and meaningful conversations.
  • Glasgow: The Chaplains visited Glasgow JSoc with a cream cheese-packed bagel lunch which was attended by 30 students.

    As our Chaplains work tirelessly to create a sense of normalcy and community for Jewish students, your continued support remains invaluable. Your loyalty enables us to continue to organise these events, providing a lifeline for Jewish students seeking connection during challenging times.

    Thank you for your continued commitment to our cause. We will keep you updated as we work towards a resolution and a safer future for Jewish students on campuses.

    Warm regards,

    Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

    New Year, New Term

    The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 02/02/24

    Dear friend,

    As we eagerly welcome back students for the new term, it is with a sense of resilience that we address the ongoing challenges of unprecedented levels of antisemitism on campuses.

    Despite the significant challenge to Jewish life on campus, our dedicated Chaplains are actively engaging with university officials to ensure that Jewish student concerns are being represented and responded to.

    If you would like to see last term’s ‘End of Term’ update, please click here.

    As the new term begins, our Chaplains are committed to providing an outstanding programme of events and opportunities for students to come together – we are collectively determined that Jewish opportunities for engagement should not be curtailed.

    Campus highlights:

     

    • Tu B’Shvat was celebrated on campuses across the UK, with a myriad of engaging and meaningful activities.
    • A joint Tu B’Shvat Pub Quiz with London Jsocs, UJS and our Chaplain, Rav Gav, was the talk of London town!
    • The Chief Rabbi made an impactful visit to students at Warwick, offering a well-received talk and facilitating insightful discussions.
    • Chaplains and students got together across the UK to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.
    I will be speaking at an upcoming pre-university event in March.


    If you know of any students in Year 12 or 13 who are keen to find out more about Jewish life on campus, and how our Chaplains are able to support students, please direct them to sign-up 
    here

    We ask you to consider your greatest gift at the start of this year by planning for the future and including University Jewish Chaplaincy in your will.

    Your legacy to University Jewish Chaplaincy will make a real difference in the lives of the students we support in our UK Universities.

    University Jewish Chaplaincy remains steadfast in its mission to foster a supportive and inclusive environment for Jewish students. Your ongoing support is instrumental in enabling us to navigate these challenges and continue our important work.

    Thank you for standing with us as we strive to make a positive impact on the lives of Jewish students across the country.

    Warm regards,

    Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

    A difficult term

    The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 14/12/23

    Dear friend,

    This evening as we celebrate the last night of Chanukah which coincides with the end of term on campus, I find myself reflecting on the profound impact recent events in Israel have had on our community and the extraordinary efforts made by our Chaplains to support Jewish students across university campuses.

    There is no doubt that this term has been overshadowed by our collective grief and deep concern for the war in Israel, for the hostages, and indeed the appalling uptick in antisemitism in the UK much of which is being felt and experienced on campus. Due to this crisis there is a notable increase in appreciation among university officials and students for the importance and need for University Jewish Chaplaincy and the vital contributions of our Chaplains. There has been a significant increase in meetings between senior university representatives and Chaplains, marking a positive shift in university recognition for the important role Jewish Chaplains play in campus life. Student attendance at Jewish Chaplaincy events has reached unprecedented levels, indicating a growing need and engagement among students.

    While we acknowledge the progress made, challenges persist, and there is a collective desire for universities to take further steps. I have been relieved to hear that over the last week disciplinary action has been taken against students who for example have been calling for global intifada on campus and carrying antisemitic signs at a campus demonstration. This is the response we have been calling for and we hope this brings reassurance to all those who have been calling for a more robust response to overt antisemitism on campus.

    As we light our final candle this evening, and approach a new calendar year and a new term, I reflect on our community’s ability to remain strong and undefeated during this period, echoing the spirit of the Maccabees, a small group of determined individuals who overcame overwhelming odds. Through a collective resilience and a steadfast commitment to our heritage, we stand united, drawing inspiration from the historic events that Chanukah commemorates. This shared sense of purpose and connection to our history helps sustain the strength of the Jewish community, fostering a spirit of endurance that transcends the challenges of the moment.

    The meaningful and well attended Chanukah events across the UK over the past eight days has only served to remind us of our collective resilience, our public and large Chanukah lightings have touched the lives of students from York, Leicester, Lancaster, Warwick, all the way to Aberdeen. The pictures speak for themselves, in the face of adversity; our Jewish practice brings us together and strengthens our resolve.

    We continue to position ourselves as thought leaders on campus, guiding and inspiring students but also supporting universities in their duty of care to Jewish students. We must ensure that they have what they need so their Jewish student communities can flourish and remain active, despite the intimidation and antisemitism many of them have experienced.

    This is my opportunity to thank the thousands of students and JSoc committees who have stood their corner and helped keep student life vibrant and strong. This is also an important moment to show my appreciation to our dedicated team of residential Jewish Chaplains who have been allocating all their time and resources to offer guidance, comfort, and a sense of belonging to Jewish students affected by this crisis. Their steadfast dedication to countering antisemitism and advocating for students has been more crucial than ever, the figures below speak for themselves.

    It is truly inspiring to see how, in the face of adversity, the Chaplaincy team have poured their efforts into increased events, increased home hospitality and increased welfare support, resulting in almost 12,000 separate student interactions just this term.

    As Chairman my thoughts and efforts remain focused on how we must keep this level of support going, working together with my fellow trustees to ensure that the requisite support and funding is in place in order that University Jewish Chaplaincy’s vital provision is safeguarded for the undoubtedly difficult times that still lie ahead.

    The challenges continue, but the resilience of our community and the unwavering support from individuals like you continue to make a meaningful impact.

    Thank you for being an integral part of our dedicated community. Your support and solidarity make a world of difference to us and to the students we serve.

    Wishing you a happy Chanukah.

    Uri Goldberg, Chairman

    A Chanukah message from Rabbi Harvey

    The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 07/12/23

    Dear friend,

    We hope this message finds you in good health.

    A Chanukah message from Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski, Chief Strategist & Rabbinic Head 

    Chanukah and the Battle of Ideas

    Lighting the menorah is commonly understood to be the focus of Chanukah. The menorah is arguably the most well-known Jewish symbol and lighting Chanukah candles is one of the most widely practised Jewish rituals. Yet many would be surprised to discover that it is very much a secondary feature of Chanukah. Indeed, the Book of Maccabees – from which we know many of the details of the second-Temple era Jewish revolt against the Greek Seleucids – makes no mention of a single jar of oil miraculous lasting for eight nights when the Temple was rededicated, and our Chanukah prayers scarcely reference it.

    This is because Chanukah is really a celebration of a historic victory in a war fought over a crucial ‘battle of ideas’. For the first time, a sophisticated ideological alternative to Judaism (Hellenism), began to hold sway over many Jews. It offered culture: art, sport, music and literature, but as ends in themselves, divorced from any spiritual aspirations. Judaism teaches that these can be meaningful, but only when they are dedicated to higher aims, melding the physical and spiritual realms, a trademark of Judaism itself.

    Rededicating the Temple at the end of the battle marked the Maccabees’ victory in that ‘battle of ideas’. The menorah – which has six lateral branches emerging from and facing the central branch – represents the various branches of human achievement firmly placed within Jewish thought, but devoted to the central, spiritual objectives of Judaism. The victory of Chanukah is celebrated in thought, Hallel (praising God) and thanksgiving for that victory, one symbolised, but not generated by lighting the menorah.

    This ‘battle of ideas’ has surfaced throughout Jewish history and is alive and well today; Chanukah is our annual opportunity to focus on it.

      Our Chaplains have organised numerous Chanukah events for students on campuses nationwide. See below for a full round up of our upcoming activities and encourage your friends, children and grandchildren to attend!

      Despite the challenges, our on-site Chaplains continue to roll out events, programming and meals with a remarkable turnout of Jewish students. They are actively seeking connection, reassurance, and understanding. The impact of thousands of meals, along with extensive welfare and pastoral support, is truly making a significant difference. 

      In light of the challenges, we are eager to highlight some positive events taking place on campuses:

      Campus update:

      • In Durham, Rabbi Lipsey hosted a well-attended ‘Lunch & Learn.’ 
      • In Cambridge, Chanukah was celebrated early with over 25 students while they are still on campus, and Chaplains arranged a visit to the Cairo Geniza collection at University of Cambridge library. 
      • In Lancaster, our Chaplain Rabbi Fagleman hosted a ‘Lunch & Learn’ which was attended by the head of student services. 
      • In Edinburgh, a Friday Night Dinner was held for all Jewish students in Scotland which attracted approximately 200 people. THey were also joined by Lord John Mann who attended in solidarity with the Jewish student community. 
      • In Nottingham, students enjoyed candle making in time for Chanukah, and the Chaplains helped organise a session for the students with David Barr, a survivor from the October 7th attacks from Kibbutz Alumim, and Rabbi Gideon Sylvester. 
      • In London, Rav Gav helped support the set-up of the first Jsoc at The Royal College of Art, and an well-attended educational session was held on Imperial campus. 
      • In Birmingham, students were privileged to be  joined by Rabbi Gideon Sylvester and David Barr for a moving and difficult portrayal of the events that unfolded on October 7th in Israel.

      We are immensely grateful for your unwavering support throughout these challenging times, and we extend our heartfelt thanks for standing by us and our 8,500+ Jewish students. 

      As we go into Chanukah we are acutely aware of the tense environment on campus and the importance of making sure the students feel empowered, safe and supported in celebrating without fear of being attacked for practicing their faith. Never has it been more important to ensure that Jewish Chaplains are on our campuses standing with students and your ongoing support remains essential. Together, we have the power to positively impact the lives and campus experience for our students.

      Wishing everyone a joyous Chanukah,

      From all of us at University Jewish Chaplaincy

      Supporting Our Jewish Students: A Call for Continued Solidarity

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 30/11/23

      Dear friend,

      I hope this message finds you in good health. During these trying times, we find solace in our community, seeking strength, support, and solidarity.
       

      While we are heartened to see the return of some of our hostages, the ongoing conflict in Israel continues to profoundly affect our students and the entire community. Jewish students, in particular, are grappling with increased stress and anxiety due to the impact of protests, walkouts, and sit-ins on campuses across the UK.
       

      Despite the challenges, our Chaplains on the ground are continuing to roll out events, programming, meals and support and the Jewish students are attending in high numbers. They are seeking connection, reassurance and understanding. The thousands of meals, extensive welfare and pastoral support are making all the difference. 
       

      Despite the challenges, we wanted to share some positive highlights of events taking place on campuses:

      Campus highlights:

      • In Edinburgh, the Shabos hosted a bagel lunch for 60 students, a Thanksgiving meal and following last week’s protests a ‘Solidarity Coffee’ event was run in the university library. 
      • In London, Rav Gav has been extremely busy holding events in LSE, Queen Mary and City University with over 60 students in attendance. 
      • In Oxford, Dinah Rose, President of Magdalen College, joined a ‘Welfare Tea’ with the Chaplain and students to discuss recent events and how to best suppor thte Jewish students. 
      • In Manchester, Rabbi Guttentag hosted an ‘Evening of Inspiration’ with Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis for Manchester, Salford and Lancaster students.  
      • In Glasgow, a Friday Night Dinner gathered over 30 students in the beautiful Garnethill Synagogue, the historic ‘cathedral synagogue’ of Scotland. 
      • In Birmingham a ‘Cocktails and Desserts’ evening was hosted by Rabbi Fishel for the new Birmingham Jsoc Committee.

      We are proud to announce our participation in Jewish Legacy Giving month. We ask you to consider your greatest gift today by planning for the future and including University Jewish Chaplaincy in your will.

      Your legacy to University Jewish Chaplaincy will make a real difference in the lives of the students we support in our UK Universities.

      Your support during these trying times has been invaluable, and we express our deepest gratitude for standing with us and our 8,500+ Jewish students.

      As we navigate these difficult times and look to the week ahead in which we will make sure Jewish students across the UK will be able to celebrate Chanukah proudly, your continued support is crucial. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students.

      Thank you for standing with us. 

      Warm regards

      Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

      Hoping for safety and security; on campus and in Israel

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 23/11/23

      Dear friend, 

      As we enter the seventh week since the war in Israel started, the campus environment for our students and Chaplains continues to present significant challenges. While the atmosphere is calming somewhat in some regions, we remain extremely concerned about the level of fear and discomfort being experienced by our Jewish students. I never thought I would be writing an email to our supporter base detailing how some Jewish students are seeking support from their Chaplains to help them move out of university accommodation where they no longer feel safe.

      The ongoing conflict in Israel continues to impact our students deeply, with Jewish students facing heightened stress and anxiety due to protests, walkouts, and sit-ins across UK campuses. And despite this we continue to stand with Israel and demand the safe return of our kidnapped.

      These are challenging times, and our Chaplains on the ground are committed to being there for our Jewish student community.

      Our Chaplains continue to go above and beyond, providing thousands of meals, hours of welfare and pastoral support and robust representation to universities who are failing in their duty of care to their Jewish student body, the figures speak for themselves:

      Campus highlights:

      • In Cambridge a ‘Schmooze for Jews’ event with Jnetics brought together over 20 students.
      • The popular ‘Bagels with Fishel’ continues in Birmingham and Warwick with over 70 students in attendance.
      • Friday Night Dinners continue across campuses including in Oxford with over 100 students.
      • In Nottingham, a sushi night attracted over 30 students, and in Leicester, an inaugural dinner event had over 20 students.
      • Oxford welcomed Gila Fine, renowned educator for Shabbat and discussions with a number of students.
      • In Liverpool students organised a food and a collection for a homeless charity for Mitzvah Day.
      • Chaplains hosted March of the Living events in Edinburgh, St Andrews, Manchester, Birmingham and Durham for over 200 students.

      Your support during these trying times has been invaluable, and we express our deepest gratitude for standing with us and our 8,500+ Jewish students.

      However, the challenges persist, and the statistics are alarming. In the 40 days between the Hamas terror attack on Israel and November 15th, CST recorded a staggering 1324 antisemitic incidents across the UK. This marks the highest-ever total reported to CST within a forty day period.

      As we navigate these difficult times, your continued support is crucial. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students.

      Thank you for standing with us. 

      Warm regards

      Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

      The Challenge Continues

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 16/11/23

      Dear friend,

      I hope this email finds you well.

      While the situation on campus continues to be challenging for our students and Chaplains we will continue to ensure that we are briefing you and keeping you updated. Our Chaplains are the boots on the ground on campus, supporting students on a daily basis. The ongoing conflict in Israel has reverberated through our university campuses, affecting the lives of our students in profound ways.

      Over the past weeks, Jewish students have found themselves in the midst of university protests, walkouts, and sit-ins organised across the UK ostensibly calling for a ceasefire.

      The national walkout on the 9th-10th of November, endorsed by various groups has added an additional layer of stress and anxiety for our students. The impact of these direct action protests, which include incendiary, antisemitic, chants and imagery, is considerable.

      Many of our new students, just beginning what should be a transformative and enriching educational experience, are instead grappling with an emotionally charged and violent atmosphere. The trauma experienced by these young minds is palpable, with Chaplains reporting that students are fearful and full of trepidation when attending lectures, events, and even residing in their own halls of residence.

      In the face of these challenges, our Chaplains remain steadfast in 12 regions across the UK. They are providing invaluable support to our students, addressing issues of antisemitism, mental health, and any university-related problems that arise.

      They continue to bring normality to students’ lives with Shabbat dinners, communal Havdalahs, weekly discussions and events. It is during these trying times that your support has proven to be especially crucial.

      We want to express our deepest gratitude for standing with us and our 8,500+ Jewish students during this crisis. 

      Providing opportunities for students to hear from others who can provide strength and inspiration is crucial at this time. In this spirit the Chaplains were delighted to welcome Rabbi Leo Dee on campus, who visited a number of universities this week to support the Jewish students, following the increase in antisemitic cases across universities. Rabbi Dee’s wife Lucy, 48 and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were tragically murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in the Jordan Valley in April this year. Over 100 students came to hear Rabbi Dee in Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham and Leeds and gained so much from his strength in the face of adversity. 

      On a lighter note, we were delighted to take part in ‘Trustees week’ celebrating the contribution and efforts of our trustee board, especially at the moment. Our trustees support UJC, our Chaplains and Jewish students all around the country through their insights, experience, varied skillset, care and passion for a thriving Jewish environment on and off campus – and we are so thankful to have them by our side.

      As we navigate these challenging times, we are reminded of the strength and resilience of our community. Your ongoing support empowers us to stand strong alongside our students, providing the care and guidance they need.

      Your contributions enable us to continue our mission of fostering a supportive environment for Jewish students at universities. Together, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of these young individuals, helping them navigate through the complexities they face.

      If you would like to contribute or learn more about our initiatives, please visit our website or contact us directly.

      Thank you for your unwavering support. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of Jewish students during these difficult times.

      Warm regards, 

      Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

      Your Support Matters: Standing Strong Together

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 09/11/23

      Dear Friend,

      In the face of the intensifying conflict in Gaza, we want to reassure you that University Jewish Chaplaincy (UJC) remains dedicated to providing vital support to Jewish students across university campuses. We understand that these are challenging times, and our Chaplains on the ground are committed to being there for our Jewish student community.

      Over the last few weeks our Chaplains have gone above and beyond as these figures will represent:

      In the 32 days inclusive between the Hamas terror attack on Israel (Saturday 7th October) and Tuesday 7th November, CST recorded at least 1124 antisemitic incidents across the UK. This is the highest ever total reported to CST across a thirty-two-day period. These developments have left many of our students feeling understandably anxious about their safety. University Jewish Chaplaincy has been featured in The JC & The Telegraph talking about these issues.

      Over the past week I collaborated with the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), CST, UJS & Universities UK to present an online briefing for parents of students at university. If you missed the briefing or would like to revisit it, you can watch it at this link.

      I was also honoured to address the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Jews and APPG on Antisemitism in the House of Commons yesterday, in a meeting organised by Lord Wasserman and the BoD. It was an opportunity to talk to Members of both houses about the current situation on campus and explore ways in which they can lend their support.

      On Campus:

      • In a show of support and solidarity with St Andrews and Edinburgh students, Chief Rabbi Mirvis joined our Chaplains and over 70 students for discussions and Havdalah.
      • Rabbi Dr. Harvey Belovski, our Chief Strategist and Rabbinic Head, visited Edinburgh campus to engage with over 60 students during a Lunch and Learn event.
      • On a happy note we are delighted to report that our Chaplain, Rabbi Guttentag has helped the Jewish students at the University of Central Lancashire to establish a newly formed Jewish Society!
      • In Oxford a ‘Welfare & Creativity’ event brought together over 20 students.

      Similar events are continuing up and down the country and we will bring you updates in our upcoming newsletters.

      The strength of our student communities on campus rests on the support of individuals like you, who are dedicated to standing strong together against antisemitism and its effects on Jewish students. We appreciate your continued support, which allows us to be a lifeline for our students and create a welcoming and secure environment for them.

      If you have any questions or wish to contribute further to our cause, please don’t hesitate to reach out to head office or the Chaplains directly. You can find our contact details here.

      Your support is invaluable in making a difference in the lives of Jewish students on university campuses.

      Thank you for being a vital part of our mission.

      Warm regards,

      Sophie Dunoff, Chief Executive Officer

      Strength in Unity: How Chaplains Support Our Students

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 27/10/23

      Dear Friend,

      As we near the end of the third week since the tragic events in southern Israel, we wanted to provide you with an update on the incredible work our Chaplains are doing to support Jewish students during these challenging times.

      We wanted to share a heartfelt testimonial that we recently received from one of our students. Eliana Stern, who studies at Newcastle University, reached out to our Chaplain for support and guidance during this difficult period. Eliana expressed how our Chaplain provided her with a sense of hope and unity. “Miriam and Rabbi Aaron have been an amazing support for me and other Jewish students. They helped us organise and run a vigil for Israel which everyone found to be really healing. They’ve hosted dinners for us twice a week since the beginning of the war, giving us the much needed time around other Jewish people to de-stress and feel safe. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”

      This testimonial beautifully illustrates the impact our Chaplains are making on the lives of our students during this immensely challenging period, and it motivates us to continue our vital work.

      The demand for our Chaplaincy services has reached unprecedented levels due to the direct impact of the situation in Israel on university campuses. We have unfortunately observed a significant increase in antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish students on campus. In response, our dedicated Chaplains are on the ground, offering vital guidance, solace, and a sense of belonging to students profoundly affected by this crisis. They are actively engaging with students through ‘Lunch & Learns’ to provide a semblance of normalcy and stability in these challenging times. The impact is not limited to one campus alone; campuses across the UK have felt the repercussions. Pro-Palestine rallies including hateful chants and calls for an ‘uprising and intifada’ have created fear among Jewish students. Incidents such as the hurling of stones at Jewish student accommodation windows and trespasses on chaplain’s property have been reported to the authorities. Antisemitic notes placed in Jewish students’ halls of residence and the removal of a student’s mezuzah in private accommodation have further exacerbated the situation.  

      The reassuring presence of our Chaplains in the lives of these students cannot be overstated. They are not only offering welfare support but also actively engaging with universities, working hand in hand with Jewish Societies and advocating for the safety and well-being of Jewish students. Chaplains across the country have been meeting with senior staff at their universities to ensure that student welfare and security are being taken seriously. In addition to this, I have spent time this week engaging further with Vice-Chancellors following the letter we sent to all universities last week together with the Union of Jewish Students..

      The support we have been receiving from our allies gives us tremendous strength. We are deeply thankful to you all for your continued commitment to our cause. Currently, approximately 75% of staff time is being devoted to this crisis which comes with its attendant costs and challenges. The contributions we have received are making a significant difference in ensuring that no student feels alone or unsupported. We are dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for all Jewish students and combating antisemitism on campuses with unwavering determination.

      If you know of anyone who might be interested in supporting our cause, please consider passing this email on to them. Your network and connections can help us reach more people who care about the well-being of Jewish students.

      In closing, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support. Together, we can make a meaningful impact in the Lives of Jewish students.

      If you have any questions or would like to discuss how you can further support University Jewish Chaplaincy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to head office or the Chaplains directly. You can find our contact details here.

      Thank you for being an essential part of our dedicated community.

      University Jewish Chaplains stand with Students and Israel in Crisis

      The following email was sent out to all subscribers on 18/10/23

      Dear Friend,The recent tragic events in southern Israel have deeply affected the Jewish community worldwide, leaving us collectively in mourning and shock following the heinous massacre perpetrated by Hamas. The brutal murder of thousands of Israelis has touched many of us personally, affecting our friends and family members directly. Our thoughts, prayers, and active support are with Israel and all those affected.Predictably, the situation in Israel has spilled into our local communities with a surge in antisemitic incidents – many of which have been targeted at Jewish students on campus. In light of this, we wanted to reassure all students and their loved ones that we are doing all we that we can to safeguard and support our Jewish students on campus.  Our dedicated team of 17 residential Jewish Chaplains are allocating their full time and resources to offer guidance, comfort, and a sense of belonging to Jewish students impacted by this unprecedented crisis. Their steadfast dedication to countering antisemitism and safeguarding students is crucial, now more than ever. Numerous hours have been invested in advocating for students and liaising with universities, particularly those failing to uphold their duty of care to all students. Please read the uncompromising letter we sent to every UK Vice Chancellor, co-signed with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), here.Recent gatherings, organised in collaboration with Jewish societies, have displayed the remarkable unity and resilience of our student community during these immensely challenging times. The events have exhibited a remarkable collective strength and it is clear that together, we are stronger than ever. Some notable examples of the gatherings include:

      • 150 students congregated in Birmingham to offer prayers and unwavering support for Israel, demonstrating the deep sense of connection within our university family.
      • In Leeds, 200 students united in prayer and song to express their solidarity with Israel, reinforcing the bond that unites us during these trying times.
      • At a locally organised event in Oxford, with 200 people in attendance, our Chaplain delivered a powerful message of hope and unity, emphasising the importance of coming together in times of crisis.

      Numerous events like these have taken place with the Chaplains across the UK with yet more to take place. In each instance, the powerful impact of unity was palpably felt, and messages of support strongly resonated throughout the respective student bodies.We are steadfast in our commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for all Jewish students, and our efforts to combat antisemitism on campuses remain unwavering. If you would like to reach out to your university Chaplain please click here. If you are looking for any additional support or advice you can also email office@mychaplaincy.co.uk.If you or a loved one has experienced antisemitism please report it to the CST on 0800 032 3263, and in an emergency always call 999. Thank you for being a part of our dedicated community. Your support and solidarity make a world of difference to us and to the students we serve.

      Safety on campus

      University Jewish Chaplaincy and Union of Jewish Students have sent the following communication to all vice chancellors across the UK. Click here to download a PDF file of this letter to share as required.

       

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