Interview by Hani Lowenstein, Associate Director of Community Projects, OU-JLIC:

Stephanie and David Saleman both grew up in Queens, NY and attended Yeshiva of Central Queens for elementary school. Stephanie, who is from Hillcrest, went to Central for high school. David is from Kew Garden Hills and attended DRS. Stephanie and David met in Queens College through OU-JLIC.

HL: During college, did you live in apartments in Queens with other college students or commute to campus from home?

S: I lived at home during my years at Queens College. My parents’ house was a mile away from campus, so it didn’t make much sense to live on/closer to campus. Although I didn’t live on campus, I made sure to hang out with friends when I was on campus or visit friends who had apartments closer to campus. (I spent so much time in friends’ apartments people started to think that I lived there.)D: I too lived at home and commuted. I didn’t just go to class and go home though. I became very involved with OU-JLIC as I was Vice President of the club (2017-2018) and created initiatives for learning, davening, and connecting with peers. It was actually at an OU-JLIC event, welcoming new Freshmen to campus, where I met my now-wife.

HL: Looking back, what do you appreciate the most about your experiences with OU-JLIC at Queens College?
D: Even in a place that wasn’t necessarily conducive for religious growth, I appreciated my ability to grow as a Jew because of OU-JLIC. It was comforting knowing I had a place to go during the day to daven, learn, and to hang out with friends. Creating relationships with Rebbaim (such as Rabbi Robby Charnoff and Rabbi Benny Berlin) made a difference not only for my time in college, but in my life beyond graduation.
S: This is a hard question to answer because I appreciate so much about OU-JLIC on campus. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the push I needed to impact Jewish life on campus. I especially appreciated the educators’ ability to see people for who they truly are. Without the OU-JLIC couple, I never would’ve thought myself to be the person to organize fun events, be a leader, or have my unique voice heard. I certainly didn’t anticipate myself being the President of the club a year and a half later. Once I was in the leadership position, the educators stayed with me every step of the way. The Charnoffs helped me build my skills of creating events, working in a diverse team, and communicating between team members. Channah Cohen was always there for Chizuk for everyone and was the brain and hard work behind so many events. When the Berlins came, they took the campus by storm by being so inviting and welcoming to everyone. Even though we were on our way out of college and weren’t as involved anymore, they took my now-husband and myself under their wings to make sure we were taken care of in many ways; they even insisted they hold my mother’s Shloshim meal in their home. All OU-JLIC educators have a special place in heaven because they believe in people, give them the ability to believe in themselves, and then follow through to help them fulfill their dreams.