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Hillel House Brighton

Not long after the opening of the University of Sussex in 1965, it became apparent that there was a need for accommodation for Jewish students coming to Brighton and Hove. Under the chairmanship of Dr Herzl Sless, suitable buildings for a residential Hillel House were bought in 1968.  The two houses in Harrington Road near… Read more »

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Not long after the opening of the University of Sussex in 1965, it became apparent that there was a need for accommodation for Jewish students coming to Brighton and Hove. Under the chairmanship of Dr Herzl Sless, suitable buildings for a residential Hillel House were bought in 1968.  The two houses in Harrington Road near Preston Park had been an engineering apprentice hostel and were suitably equipped and furnished.

The newly appointed University of Sussex lecturer Julius Carlebach was appointed resident Director of Hillel and was assisted by his wife, Myrna. There were 25 students in residence and on Friday evenings, under the organisation of the University of Sussex Jewish Society, meals were provided for up to 100 students, usually followed by a talk by an invited speaker. Hillel also hosted seminars for students from other universities.

Over the years, students became less willing to share bedrooms and when Dr Carlebach and family moved out of the house, suitable changes were made to the rooms. Then students sought self-catering facilities, and small student kitchens were furnished. The house was supported by Brighton and London B’nei B’rith, and Ruth Sless catered many fundraising meals and visitor teas.

Aileen Hill took over as director in the early 1990s, and as student accommodation needs changed again, the house in Preston Park was sold and a drop-in centre was created at the back of Middle Street shul, opening in2012.

This building had once been used for cheder classes, and then for many years as accommodation for ministers. Recently it had been used for kiddushim, and had housed the congregation’s offices until the 1980s.

When Hillel took it over, it had been largely unused for several years, and required complete refurbishment and modernisation, which was carried out under the leadership of Roger Abrahams. This included provision of a large room for meetings, new kitchens, and a warden’s flat. One feature of interest is the new stained glass window.

Brighton Hillel House created many good friendships and happy marriages, as well as successful professionals in British and Israeli communities.

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