The Alliance for Progressive Judaism’s Student Chaplaincy offers rabbinic/pastoral, educational and religious support for Progressive Jewish university students. The Student Chaplains support students in building vibrant Progressive Jewish life on university campuses, including egalitarian initiatives, in order to empower women in their Judaism, as well as men.

The Alliance’s Student Chaplaincy works in two main areas; external advocacy and internal support and development.

As part of external advocacy, the Chaplaincy aims to lift up the Progressive Jewish voice on campus to combat antisemitism, strengthen the connection between students and the media, provide pastoral support to students running for on-campus elections, enable students to engage in serious dialogue with one another, and advocate for Progressive Jewish voices in the context of Orthodox-normative Jewish student life.

Through internal support and development work, the Chaplaincy continues to help build egalitarian and Progressive Jewish tefillah/prayer spaces connected to campus Jewish Societies, help students participate and build relationships with local Progressive Jewish communities and rabbis, run educational sessions, and respond to the mental health crisis by offering proactive resilience building workshops.

Our most successful programme to date is our Shabbat Kit Project, where the Liberal Judaism Student Chaplain visited most of the UK’s main campuses, bringing Progressive Jewish students everything they needed to make a warm Shabbat away from home – a £50 food voucher, Shabbat candles and wine, a challah recipe, Havdallah candle and spices, and specially-created Liberal Shabbat prayerbooks for campus and student-oriented text study.

Liberal Judaism’s Student Chaplaincy also sends care packages over the course of the academic year, which students look forward to receiving. Previous care packages have included: a Chanukah parcel with chanukiah, candles, dreidel, gelt, and the blessings to celebrate far from home; a Pesach pack with matzah and recipes; a Purim pack including a mask and noise maker; and an end-of-year exam stress pack to help students through tough revision.

However, the most important work that we do is immeasurable quiet conversations with individual students, getting to know who they are, with what they are concerned, and how we may provide the help that they need.