The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League Institution, is one of the oldest universities in America. Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and is home to 1,500-2,500 Jewish undergraduate students. The Orthodox Community at Penn (OCP) is a student run community that works in partnership with Penn Hillel. The OCP has 75-150 students; 90-110 studied in an Orthodox gap year program in Israel. Orthodox students at Penn live in many different locations on and around campus, with many living in Rodin College House, directly across from the Hillel building. All university dormitories have a Shabbat friendly access system whereby students can use a number instead of their ID cards to enter the buildings on Shabbat. While Freshmen are required to live on campus, many upperclassmen choose to live off-campus in apartments close by.
Although classes meet during holidays, the professors are accommodating and understanding of the students’ needs and practices. Students should contact professors in the first two weeks of each semester with the dates that will be missed for the holidays. If necessary, OU-JLIC Torah Educators and other Hillel staff can help work through any issues.
Penn Hillel is home to over 40 different student communities which organize more than 300 events and programs a month. The events include a weekly soup kitchen, Israel engagement and education programming, and lectures by prominent guest speakers. The OU-JLIC at Penn Hillel offers social programming such as weekly Shabbat meals, a monthly oneg, barbeques, pizza making, movie nights, as well as organizing a team for the Philly Marathon. The OU-JLIC Torah Educators teach classes in Talmud, Tanach, and machshavah (Jewish thought) and about upcoming chagim, such as a Pre-Selichot drashah, Shabbat Hagadol drashah, and Pesach preparation classes. Both educators have ongoing chevrutot and chaburot with students.
On Shabbat, there are speakers, guest lecturers, learning opportunities, and scholars-in-residence. Friday night davening is vibrant and lively with 135-165 students joining together for Orthodox Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv. Many students eat Friday night dinner at Hillel and some students choose to eat with friends in the dorm rooms. On Friday night there is typically an oneg or tisch at a student’s residence or the OU-JLIC educators’ home. On Shabbat morning 70-85 students attend the Orthodox minyan, followed by a kiddush and a shabbat lunch in Hillel. Students give divrei Torah on Friday night, Shabbat morning and seudah shelishit. On many Shabbatot the OU-JLIC educators host students in their homes for Shabbat meals and students often host their own meals as well. The OCP organizes seudah shelishit which features lively and inspirational singing. Seudah Shlishit, organized by the OCP, features lively and inspirational singing and is attended by over seventy five students.
Meet The Educators