UK Chabad Centres Welcome Influx of Tourists over the Summer

Thursday, 2 September, 2010 - 8:11 am

weinman.jpgWith over 29.9 million overseas visitors to United Kingdom per year, the summer period has seen hundreds of tourists flock to Chabad centres around the country.

The annual Edinburgh Festival draws thousands of performers and hundreds of thousands of spectators to Scotland's capital city where Rabbi Pinny and Gitty Weinman greet them with Shabbat hospitality and a dose of Jewish spirituality.

Rabbi Weinman, together with rabbinical students, Yaakov and Hershy Hecht (pictured), set up a table on Edinburgh's Royal Mile where performers and visitors gather.

"We get hundreds of people stopping at the stall every day and around 30 people put on tefillin. We have also handed out around 150 Shabbat candles every week," Rabbi Weinman told the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

"We did this on a smaller scale last year but we saw the influence of more than one million tourists in Edinburgh and now we have a much bigger presence."

With attractions such as Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, London draws the bulk of tourists visiting the United Kingdom.

In Bloomsbury, central London, Rabbi Yisroel and Devora Lew have welcomed many Jewish visitors to the capital from countries as diverse as Israel, Morocco and Iran.

Equipped with a new centre right in the bustling heart of the city, Chabad of Bloomsbury has welcomed increased numbers of tourists as well as the usual crowd of students and young professionals.

bloomsbury.jpg"Our new centre has allowed us to accommodate over 100 people - many of whom are visiting the capital on holiday or business - for Friday night meals. In the past we had to limit numbers and squeeze shoulder-to-shoulder into a much a smaller space," said Rabbi Yisroel Lew.

"We've never been to such a large Friday night meal with so many people from all over the world. The food was great, the atmosphere was very welcoming and we got to listen to an American diplomat speaking about his work in Israel," said New Yorker Beth Sussman, a resident of Kew Gardens, Queens, on holiday in the capital with her husband.

Although students in the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge go home during the summer vacation, they are replaced by throngs of tourists as well as visiting students and scholars.

"Chabad is a primary port of call for Jewish visitors to Oxford during the summer months. Although our regular student crowd has gone home, the influx of many tourists and visiting students and academics ensures that we still have large numbers coming through the door," said Rabbi Eli Brackman, director of Chabad of Oxford.

"Many visiting students are in their teens and it is their first time away from their families, so we are keen to provide a welcoming Jewish home-away-from-home for them," added Freida Brackman.


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