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Who We Are

Who We Are

Oxford Jewish Student Centre

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About Us


Efordchabad1.jpgThere is a saying that there is a close parallel between the wisdom of the world and Jewish wisdom. When there is an intense upsurge of the one, there is also in some way an equivalent increase in the other. Oxford University gives an example of this.

The university - the first in England - was founded in the 12th century. As we know, it was to have a glorious academic future ahead. At just the same time, although in a different place, the great Jewish sage Moses Maimonides, the Rambam, was compiling his fascinating works of Jewish law and philosophy, as well as medicine.

The story goes that during the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart invited the Rambam to come and live in England. Had this invitation not been politely turned down, the Rambam, who had a particular interest in communicating Jewish thought to intellectuals, might have ended up with a residence in ancient Oxford, which even then boasted a Jewish community, including a number of scholars. In those days Jews were not permitted to be members of the university: but times have changed. Today there are an estimated 1000 Jewish students in Oxford (out of a total of 12,000), and also a resident community of about 270 member-families.

The Rambam remained in Egypt, but filling the gap in Oxford a young Chabad Rabbi and his wife came in September 2001 to re-establish the Chabad House in this celebrated university town.

Rabbi Eli Brackman and his wife Freidy (nee Loewenthal) come from academic familes: their respective parents comprise a scientist, an educationalist, an historian and a professor of psychology. At the same time they are both graduates of the Lubavitch UK school system. After studying in England they each extended their studies abroad.

For several years Rabbi Eli attended the Lubavitch rabbinic academy in New York. However, the Lubavitch practice is to give full opportunity to rabbinical students to come face-to-face with the realities of Jewish life. Thus at the age of 20 Rabbi Eli led a small nucleus creating a Yeshivah in Minsk, in the CIS. Later, back in the USA, he gained experience as a roving rabbi in the States of Wyoming and Montana, and ministered to students of the University of Texas in Austin. Closer to home, he also spent some time with the community of Swansea in South Wales.

Rabbi Brackman gained his Rabbinical Diploma (Semicha) at the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva, and is close to completing a postgraduate diploma which will qualify him to act as Dayan. He is also adept at Scribal art.

His wife Freidy was studied advanced Jewish thought and Chassidic Philosophy in Tsfat, Israel, and gained experience as a teacher in an outreach Jewish school in Sweden. Between them the couple speak several languages apart from English, including Ivrit, Russian and Swedish.

The Chabad House is situated on the Cowley Road, just a short walk from all the major Colleges. The Brackmans aim to make the Chabad House function as a resource for Jewish learning, education and warm hospitality for Jewish students, complementing the existing Jewish Society activities.

The Brackmans also work together with the Oxford community on educational projects for children, teenagers and adults, as well as developing contacts with Jews in the surrounding areas where there is no established Jewish community.

The major part of their time, however, is dedicated to providing exciting and stimulating programs for Jewish students studying at Oxford and Brookes University, whatever their affiliation, so as to strengthen their attachment to their Jewish roots.

The membership of the Oxford Chabad Society is 500 strong. Crowd-pulling activities are held several times a week, and there is daily one-on-one study and relaxed social contact with an ever widening circle of students and community members. The Rambam would be proud…

Directions

The Chabad House is located at:
75 Cowley Road
Oxford, OX4-1HR
Tel/Fax: (01865) 200-158
Email: oxfordchabad@aol.com

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