Jewish Israeli Socety

Jews follow the Kaskrut Laws, which are not simply to do with diet, but are the laws that set Jews apart from non-Jews. They observe the Sabbath as the day of rest from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Jews observe around 16 festivals throughout the year which aim to celebrate and commemorate a variety of occasions. Some are very solemn and spiritual; for example, the Day of Atonement is when Jews ask God to put them in the book of life for the coming year, and ask for forgiveness from others for any offence or hurt called. Others are a celebration; Purim and Chanukah celebrate life and survival after near-annihilation.

The Torah (Old Testament) and Talmud, a set of books containing rabbinic commentary on the Torah, contain 613 commandments, the most important of which concerns the sacredness of life.

We talked to Daisy Abboudi, Education and Interfaith Officer, about the realities of being a Jewish student on campus. Daisy said that the biggest misconception she encounters on a daily basis is the belief that Judaism is synonymous with Israel and whilst Jews come from all walks of life, people tend to assume that to be Jewish is to be devoutly religious, fluent in Hebrew and to conform to certain other stereotypes. It is important to separate Israeli nationality from Judaism as distinct identities.

Daisy describes the campus as a secular place but says that people are generally tolerant and are becoming more willing to discuss faith with the introduction of Co-Exist. As Inter-faith officer for the Jewish-Israeli Society, she believes firmly that education and communication are key to religious tolerance, and is trying to get the society more involved in the interfaith aspects of the society and run culture nights.

Daisy believes that religious differences are often exacerbated by the media and that many religions have a lot more similarities than differences; she likens different faiths to a tube map of the London underground where people may take different routes to arrive at the same place.

### Vitals

– **Membership:** About 90 members, of whom about half are active members who attend events regularly. Members come from all over the world, with a significant proportion from Europe. The Jewish-Israeli Society used to be two separate societies but merged about 5 years ago, after they found that the membership base was largely the same and the Jewish society was diminishing whilst the Israeli Society was thriving.

– **Events:** Weekly prayers on Friday night. On Wednesday lunchtimes they have a bagel lunch, where a Rabbi comes to talk to students about modern issues in the Jewish faith. At other times, they run student led discussions and address some of the more controversial issues that affect Jews, such as conversion. They tend to steer away from the political aspects of the Jewish faith and emphasise the cultural community that the society provides.Judaism shares many of its beliefs with Christianity, the most fundamental of which is the belief in the one Judeo-Christian God. The main difference is that Jews believe that whilst the Old Testament points towards the coming of the Messiah, the Messiah is yet to come and will only come when Jews can live in the Promised Land.


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