The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is on the border between the eastern-Illinois cities of Urbana and Champaign, and only a few hours from, Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. The university is home to 33,900 undergraduate students and 2,500-5,000 Jewish undergraduates. There are 25-75 students from Modern or Centrist Orthodox day schools on campus who live in both university housing and private apartments around campus. Approximately half the Orthodox students attended an Orthodox gap-year program in Israel.
Urbana-Champaign is a great place for someone looking to take an active leadership role in the Jewish Community and impact Jewish life on campus. The Orthodox students form a close-knit community and take full advantage of the groups’ intimate size to receive individualized attention and mentorship from the OU-JLIC Torah Educators on campus. Through the guidance of the OU-JLIC educators, each student explores and engages Torah in ways that make it personally meaningful to him or her and is passionate about sharing and teaching Torah to others.
OU-JLIC coordinates communal learning and social programming for students on campus. There are shiurim on Gemara and Rambam, and a weekly student-led mishmar. The social events are diverse: broomball games; movie nights; game nights; ice cream socials; a welcome event for incoming students; and a monthly women’s Rosh Chodesh activity and discussion. The OU-JLIC educators are very committed to providing students with the know-how to perform many mitzvot, including how to create and check an eruv, make a kosher sukkah, and bake matzah. They also train students to serve as paid mashgichim at Hillel, and for the university’s kosher dinner option served in Allen Hall. Chabad and JET also offer shiurim and activities that the Orthodox students participate in. At Urbana-Champaign, OU-JLIC, JET, Chabad and Hillel enjoy a warm and cooperative relationship, and many programs are collaborative, giving a strong sense of the unified Illini Jewish community.
Shabbat and chagim on campus are a highlight of each semester. OU-JLIC organizes minyanim on Shabbat, chagim and the Yamim Noraim. On Friday night and Shabbat morning there are approximately 20 students at the OU-JLIC minyan. The Friday night communal dinner at Hillel attracts 150-200 students, and the OU-JLIC educators also host students for Shabbat dinner. Students give the divrei Torah on Friday night and there are often onegs at the Hillel house or at a student’s apartment. Shabbat morning the OU-JLIC rabbi gives a drashah during Shacharit, and a halachah shiur after kiddush. Orthodox students eat lunch at Hillel. Chabad also has services on Shabbat, and students are invited to eat at Chabad or JET. Students spend Shabbat afternoons at Hillel or Chabad playing board games or pool, socializing, and enjoying shiurim. Mincha is usually after lunch or sometimes precedes seudah shelishit. Some students eat seudah shelishit at Hillel. The chagim are also celebrated on campus with community programming including a joint Sukkah hop between the Jewish organizations on campus, a nightly Chanukah candle lighting and opportunities for students to make chanukiot and latkes, a Tu B’Shvat seder, Purim Seudah, and an unforgettable Pesach seder.
Meet The Educators