Vanessa Moussaieff

St Hilda’s College

Secretary, Oxford Chabad Society



You’ve just left home for the first time. Youre excited by all the opportunities uni promises to offer, and therefore plunge yourself into university life: societies, a busy social life etc.


But then commitments build up, stress levels rise, tutorials are to be had, essays to be written, and by the time fifth week comes along those famous blues are making an appearance. Suddenly you notice the absence of the core of your upbringing: Judaism, or suddenly yearn to know more.


Chabads primary role is to fill that void. Though the recently founded Chabad Society has student representatives on its committee too, it is mostly run by Rabbi Eli and Freidy. They are so welcoming: are always there to help, listen, and provide, away from home, the Jewish environment, culture and support that home did for many Jewish students. Examples of the ways in which they do this are by inviting students to observe festivals with them, join them for Friday night dinner or attend their frequent exciting events.


People are not judged on the strength of their faith or on anything else though: everyone is welcome.


Many Jewish students have not had a Jewish background and want to know more: education is another of Chabads primary roles. I for example, though both Jewish and Israeli, knew virtually nothing about Judaism when I came to Oxford. Rabbi Eli and Freidy did not judge me, but were happy to and excited about teaching me. They involved me in their preparations for festivals, showed me aspects of Judaisms rich culture, even taught me some Hebrew. All of this was so enriching and made me feel right at home.


Chabad organises fun events all the time: barbecues, ice-cream parties… it invites speakers to talk on fascinating subjects like Kabbalah, for example. You are encouraged to think about Judaism for yourself, on whatever level you want or are ready for: no pressure, no dogma, just support all the way.


For me last year with Chabad meant warmth, learning and enjoyment: a Jewish home away from home where people cared about me and about what I was going through.


If you are a Fresher, I really hope you come along to one of the events soon. I am sure you would enjoy it, and know you would be very welcome.