L-R: Sabrina Verby, co-President and Seth Marks, Treasurer of Brighton and Sussex J-Soc, with Jodeci Joseph, Hertfordshire J-Soc President and Dan Rafaeli, UJS J-Soc Officer at UJS Summit in November 2017
Brighton and Sussex J-Soc is an active, thriving campus community. This year the J-Soc have welcomed educational speakers, organised weekly Shabbat meals and festival celebrations, hosted a stand at the university’s Refreshers fair and commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. Looking forward, we are excited for the second JFest party and the South Coast Shabbaton at Ralli Hall Community Centre in March.
On page 17 of this week’s Jewish Chronicle (in the Community News section) there is a story under the headline ‘Brighton rocked by UJS plan to sell Hillel’, which is not currently available online. We would like to clarify that the article does not reflect the full picture.
UJS has been discussing the possibility of a sale and alternative provision for Jewish students in Brighton and Sussex for two years. As some of you will know from being involved in the conversations, we have been in regular consultation with students, local leaders and partners. This has included the trustees of the Middle Street Synagogue, with whom we share a site, and who are also in the process of selling their property.
Like many of you, we’ll be sad to see a change to the current offering of a dedicated Hillel centre. However, we understand that to be able to provide for Jewish students in Brighton for many years to come, a change will be necessary. Change can lead to new opportunities: for example, in Durham our partnership with the university saw them provide a bespoke catering and activity space that has allowed monthly Friday night meals and activity with fifteen students to become weekly activity with over 30 students, all supported by UJS. This is all part of a wider situation in which, over the last ten years, UJS has been modernising our space provision so that we can expand the range of kosher food and space for Jewish life on close to 20 campuses from Liverpool to London – all done by working with local Hillel boards, university leadership, accommodation services, the community and of course, the J-Soc members.
The options cited in the JC article are among many options being explored for the Jewish students in the area. We would also like to reassure you that all plans for any possible sale are being progressed in a way that ensures Brighton Hillel will remain open throughout this academic year, and plans for new provision will be firmly in place by the start of the next academic year. To be clear: we will not leave Brighton and Sussex J-Soc without space for events or access to kosher accommodation.
For many years, we have invested tens of thousands of pounds each year in space and programming for Jewish students in Brighton and we are fully committed to doing so in the long-term future.
Our utmost priority is always to provide safe, welcoming and appropriate spaces for Jewish life and access to kosher food and accommodation for everyone who wants it; and we are fully committed to the long-term financing, resourcing and enhancing of Jewish student life in Brighton and Sussex.
We are fortunate to work with excellent partners committed to Jewish student life in Brighton and Sussex, including University Jewish Chaplaincy, local Rabbis and community organisations. Together with these partners, we will ensure that Jewish students in Brighton and Sussex will continue to have access to Friday Night meals and space to run the incredible events and programmes that we are so proud to support.
Should any member of Brighton and Sussex J-Soc want to discuss this with a member of the UJS team, please do not hesitate to get in contact.