Our Chaplains and Chaplaincy couples are involved in all aspects of the lives of university students. There is no question that they haven't been asked! Check them out and find the answers to your questions here. Please feel free to email us any question or situation that you require an answer to.
Q. Is there a problem to study or prepare for an assignment on Shabbat?
A. It is preferable not to, but if it is very pressing, it is permitted as long as it is just reading.
Q:What can I do if I don't have access to a Sukkah on campus?
A:Its best to eat all meals in a Sukkah during Sukkot. If that is not possible, then avoid bread, but small snacks involving cakes and crackers and any quantities of other foods may be eaten outside the Sukkah. Of course, your Chaplain will be delighted to host you for any meals during Sukkot.
Q: I'm from the USA and I don't celebrate Christmas at all, as it's a Christian holiday. However, I've heard that non-Christians in the UK will celebrate Christmas in some way, such as having a tree or opening presents on Christmas, or even just having a special Christmas meal. Is this true and/or common? As someone who considers Christmas to be Christian in culture if not always religion, the idea that Christmas might be considered secular even by Jews seems very foreign to me.
A: I too have been told of some Jews doing Christmas celebrations. They usually think of it as a secular or British experience rather than Christian.
Jewish law (halacha) has a complex and nuanced approach to Christianity with quite a broad spectrum of positions. The mainstream halachic understanding is that there are widely accepted prohibitions of taking on non-Jewish customs and behaviours. There is of course value in each faith group following its own practices.
We would be happy to provide a reading list of materials addressing Jewish-Christian relations and history on the topic.