London – Chabad plans to double the number of full-time representatives it has at UK universities have angered the University Jewish Chaplaincy.
“We think it’s vital to avoid duplicating resources and are disappointed at the lack of discussion that has taken place over these plans,” said University Jewish Chaplaincy chief executive Rabbi Yoni Sherizen. “Sadly, there have been experiences of Chabad polarising student communities as a result of their working in isolation. This combined with the fact that many Chabad campus staff have wider communal responsibilities means that their focus is not exclusively on students.”
Until now, Chabad had five couples working with Jewish students in Oxford, Cambridge, University College London and the University of London, Brighton and Leeds. This month, it will send four additional couples to Bristol University, Imperial College London, Nottingham University and the University of Edinburgh. One more will serve several South London universities.
Rabbi Eli Brackman, chairman of Chabad on Campus UK, said the expansion was “extremely exciting”. “What we are doing is crucial for the future and continuity of Jewish life on UK campuses and Anglo-Jewry. They will provide a warm home away from home for all Jewish students – be they Orthodox, Liberal or Reform.”
He explained that the couples will respond to the needs of each campus. “If a certain university needs more Jewish education then they will arrange for that. Or if it is more social events that are needed then that is what they will provide.”
The initiative has been made possible by funding from an anonymous donor.