As I go into Shabbat this week, I’m looking forward to having a chance to reflect on the absolute madness that has been freshers.
I travelled from Scotland to the south coast and back, spent all the chagim in cities I had never visited before, met hundreds of new people, and got to see the tone being set for the rest of the year.
My freshers travels started in St. Andrews for Rosh Hashanah. Before this summer, I couldn’t even have placed it on a map. Safe to say I was pleasantly surprised when we met close to 50 Jewish students over the course of two days. I heard the same thing over and over; “I had no idea there were so many Jews here!”
That sentiment was not unique to St. Andrews. Coming out of months of social isolation, so many students were shocked to find a blossoming Jewish life on their campus. I got to spend Yom Kippur in Edinburgh, where for the first time, they had well over 100 students turn up to their first event!
I visited campuses that didn’t even have full committees, but by the end of their fairs, had more members signed up than ever before. I got to talk to Students’ Unions that have never had a J-Soc before, and brainstorm how to get their students involved. Whether it was a campus with 100 students or 10, the good vibes were contagious.
It’s difficult to capture in words the energy I felt in these spaces. Whether it was a big campus or a small campus, North or South, or anything in between, the excitement this year was palpable. Community is a keystone of Judaism for so many, and it is such an incredible opportunity to be able to support JSocs in fostering it on campus.
As things (very temporarily) wind down, I have a chance to reflect on these experiences, and start to think about how to keep this momentum going. I’m looking forward to more precedented times, and build on the success and enthusiasm we’ve seen.