Leap of faith: University students need us now more than ever

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Leap of faith: University students need us now more than ever

The form of Jewish life at university does not reflect young people's Jewish home

Right now, our university students really need us. As well as the stress of exams and the general pressures of being away from home, since October 7 they have also had to cope with Israel being at the forefront in the news and in student politics.

At present, the vast majority of Jewish chaplaincy at UK universities is Orthodox. It is offered by Chabad, Aish and University Jewish Chaplaincy. These organisations do an excellent job in catering for students who seek an Orthodox form of Jewish life. But this is not sufficient. A recent UJS survey showed that one in four Jewish students identifies as Progressive. For many of them, the form of Jewish life available at university is not their Jewish home.

Young Progressive Jews often can’t find a prayer space or study space that meets their needs, one that echoes the rich, inclusive, musical Jewish life in which they grew up. This can be especially alienating for the thousands of young people whose Jewish identity is not recognised by existing organisations – those who may have grown up secular, who have converted, who are from mixed-faith families, who are queer. Those who have nuanced or critical views on Israel can also feel Jewishly homeless, now more than ever.

One of the things that can get lost in the current conversation about the campus experience is the diversity of views. Some Jewish students are involved in the current protest camps. To others they are alienating, threatening or unnuanced. And many sit in an ambivalent space in between their more certain peers to either side, or hold multiple, competing views within themselves.

This spring, we relaunched Progressive Jewish Students. Building on the excellent work of UJS and JSocs, our goal is to create a Progressive Jewish life on campus that is meaningful, robust, diverse, inclusive and safe, creating a positive space for students to explore their Jewish identity and practice with peers.

We are working to ensure that students can continue to practice their Progressive Judaism on campus – through university visits for Shabbat services, pastoral care and lunch and learns; posting out festival packs, as we just did for Pesach; and seeking to ensure that students are in touch with their nearest of our 80+ Reform and Liberal communities.

We aim to offer students opportunities for Jewish learning, experience and pastoral support that will give them resources in this period of their lives, so that they are equipped during their time at university with the leadership skills to organise and take responsibility for their Jewish life as adults. We aim to make sure that every student has a safe Jewish space.

It is especially important that there is a diversity of Jewish culture and religious practice visible on university campuses, that all our students have access to the practical and emotional support that they need, and that whatever their identity and background, every student can be part of a community that cares about their belonging and wellbeing.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: