Students of different faiths in Leeds have been helping break out of ‘faith bubbles’ thanks to the work of one of our churches.
A few years ago, a Jewish student in the city remarked to some Christian and Muslim colleagues in a coffee shop in Leeds that ‘We Jewish students live in a faith bubble.’
For a number of years, a group of families at St George’s Church in Leeds have aimed to help Jewish, Christian and Muslim students to break out of their bubbles.
Over the last few weeks members of St George’s have been working with the University’s Jewish Society (known as JSoc).
As part of this liaison a group of church families have been offering interfaith meals for Jewish and Christian students in their homes.
COVID had put a stop to the church’s student interfaith meals over the last eighteen months, but now they are up and running again.
In the most recent round families hosted a dozen Jewish and Christian university students.
Conversations between the students was wide ranging.
At one dinner it ranged from snowball fights between students to hearing about Advent and Passover customs; from favourite on campus libraries to visits to Israel and New York; from university faith societies to how studies had been affected by COVID.
In a true spirit of interfaith understanding, a number of Jewish students admitted that they had advent calendars – they loved getting a piece of chocolate each day!
Others baked cakes for a JSoc interfaith event, and when JSoc members told church members that they were on the lookout for cakes a group of families at St George’s provided some home baked ones.
The church hopes to repeat the offer of interfaith meals in the spring term.
Amber Nathan, a second-year student and member of the university’s Jewish Society said after her meal: “We had a really good time tonight, meeting students from St George’s; we’re really grateful to members of the church for providing us with cakes for our own interfaith event.”
Jacob Ralls, a first-year student and member of St George’s said: “I’ve loved meeting a group of people who, in any other context, I wouldn’t get the opportunity to meet.
“I enjoyed learning about the differences and similarities between our upbringing in different faith communities.”