OU-JLIC’s educators were once again busy this week. Below is the update of OU-JLIC activities this past week.  I hope you enjoy!

Impact In Numbers

  • 116 advisory meetings took place with OU-JLIC educators and Hillel, Student Groups, or other groups/organizations
  • 278 virtual coffee dates (including chevrutah learning and check ins)
  • 865 texting and whatsapp check-ins with students
  • 129 students were delivered food by OU-JLIC educators
  • 81 Chaburot and Shiurim were given last week by OU-JLIC educators
  • 1,616 students and their family members took part in OU-JLIC chaburot and chevrutot this past week
  • 29 non-learning events and programs took place over the last week
  • 93 divrei Torah were sent by OU-JLIC educators to 5,259 people
  • 296 Halachic questions were answered by OU-JLIC educators and 32 of these questions were related to COVID-19
  • 25 chattanim/kallot were taught by OU-JLIC this past week

Personal Connections

  • Orly Singer (University of Chicago) reached out to an Orthodox student who is barely involved with the Jewish community on campus. The student expressed her frustrations regarding certain social elements of the community and expressed that she would like to take a more active role as part of the community next year. They brainstormed together and thought of ways that the student can be more involved and feel comfortable. Orly and the student set up a chavruta that they are starting next week.
  • A former student of Rabbi Isaac Attia (Binghamton University and formerly Brandeis University) asked for advice at navigating the semikha process at RIETS, dating, and making aliyah. This was very gratifying because Rabbi Isaac and Tal Attia had heavily supported him through his gerut and learning (his family is Conservative and he discovered in high school that he needed an Orthodox conversion).
  • A student learning with Shiffy Friedman (Columbia/Barnard) since the Fall, remarked recently that, “it’s a highlight of my week.”  Shiffy learns Parsha together with the student who then writes up a d’var Torah that she sends to her friends and family. For many of the people on her list, this is the only dvar torah they will be reading that week. Some print it out and discuss it at their Shabbat table and others respond with comments or a note of appreciation.
  • Rabbi Daniel and Sarah Kasdan (Cornell University) have been working closely with a couple scheduled to get married in June, and this week they helped them make the decision to push the wedding to August so their parents could be there. The kallah is doing Kallah classes with Sarah and Daniel will be the Mesader Kiddushin at the wedding. Next week, Sarah will be throwing the kallah a virtual tichel party so she can have a little celebration now despite the disappointment of postponing the wedding.
  • Shira Kahn (Princeton University) had a long conversation with a Princeton Student who was concerned about paying a shiva call for a fellow Princeton student, especially over Zoom. Shira gave her some practical guidance regarding how to behave and set a time where Shira and the student “went” to the Shiva together.
  • Princeton does not have a large Orthodox community, but there are a few elderly members. In the beginning of the crisis, the Kahns sent them all an email offering help. Since then there is a couple they shop for every other week (the wife is in a risk group and over 70) because orders from Shoprite are not available.
  • Sara Berlin (Queens College) reached out to (without exaggeration) 150 individual students to see how they are doing.
  • Rav Tzvi and Tali Wohlgelernter (Rutgers University) spent two days driving over all of New Jersey to do #oujlicstudybreak drive-by. They delivered over one hundred study break packages. They visited Fort Lee, Englewood, Cresskill, Teaneck, Bergenfield, Paramus, Fairlawn, Passaic, West Orange, Highland Park, Edison, East Brunswick, New Brunswick , Old Bridge, Deal, Long branch. This was also a sweet way for Rav Tzvi and Tali to say goodbye to their students because they will be returning to Israel this summer.
  • A student at Western University expressed her concern to the Najibis that she had just started dating a guy whose mother is a convert and she was uncertain whether the conversion was considered valid or not.  Rabbi Kaplan guided the Najibis in how to help the young woman.
  •  Rabbi Alex Ozar and Lauren Steinberg (Yale University) organized a daily “shiva davening” on Zoom for one of their students who lost their father. The first night of shiva included other members of the student’s family and several childhood friends, and gave her an opportunity to share a hesped for her father.

Program Highlights

  • Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack (Brooklyn College) organized an incredible Mental Health Panel for their students on Monday, May 4th. The panel focused on mental health during Covid-19, how it affects each of us, how we can stay healthy, and when to seek help. 160 people registered on Zoom and the facebook live post had 200 views. The panel was staffed by several alumni of OU-JLIC Brooklyn College as well as the Executive Director of Nefesh International, Miriam Turk, a Psychiatrist, Dr Ronen Hisame, and of course Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, LMHC. The student committee curated questions and prepared a booklet of resources. Click here to access the panel.
  • Rabbi Don and Leora Cantor (Johns Hopkins) organized a get-together for students over Zoom. They did “speed-dating”-style breakout sessions where students could catch up with each other and had a Hopkins Jewish Community themed Kahoot quiz.
  • Rabbi Joe Wolfson (NYU) gave a shiur on the theological and halachic responses to COVID-19. The shiur was very discursive and also gave people an opportunity to share their own reflections on how the crisis has affected their religious lives.
  • Ayelet Shachar (Queens College) ran an art night over zoom and everyone shared the one thing they’re grateful to have during quarantine. Students said it was a great way to de-stress, utilize their creativity and socialize with their fellow students.
  • Rabbi Yonatan Hirshhorn and Rabbi Tzvi Wohlgelernter have partnered together to teach a Tzurba Mrabanan shiur on the laws of basar b’chalav for Rutgers and Maryland students.
  • Rav Nick and Orit Faguet (SMC) taught a shiur on “Sefirat Haomer and Self Improvement”. The shiur discussed how to make these days count and students an opportunity to share how they are working on themselves bein adam lemakom and bein adam lechavero, giving feedback and ideas to each other.
  • The Hirschhorn family (University of Maryland) ran an adorable event for their students: Hummus! Live with Navah & Tamar (the Hirschhorn’s daughters). On this Friday morning Zoom, the Hirschhorns two girls ‘ran the show’ and taught students how to make hummous, an all-time favorite of their students who would often ask for the recipe or come by on Friday to make it together.  Students loved the program and loved feeling like they were a part of the Hirschhorn’s kitchen and family.
  • This year Rabbi Raffi Leicht (UMass Amherst) took part in Hillel International’s Office Of Innovation’s Inaugural Educator’s Cohort. The Educator’s Cohort is a select group of 9 Senior Jewish Educators from across the United States, Rabbi Leicht being the only OU-JLIC Torah Educator and Hillel Senior Jewish Educator of the group. This past Tuesday, May 5th was the closing session of the cohort. The cohort met bi-weekly workshopping, learning Torah and working on various aspects of their craft as Jewish educators.
  •  Tal Attia (Binghamton) met with a few of her Yavneh mentees to plan a commencement ceremony for the Yavneh fellows. The students were excited to reflect on how much they gained this year and how they envision using their Yavneh tools going forward.
  • Many students enrolled in IDC-Herzliya are on scholarships that require volunteer hours. With many student volunteer opportunities closed down because of COVID-19, IDC reached out to Rabbi Josh and Margot Botwinick and asked if they had any volunteer opportunities. Just this week, the Botwinicks set up 25 more students with opportunities through YACHAD, helping local elderly people with groceries, connecting students with families to read to kids while parents work and of course through OU-JLIC’s, “Killing Covid with Kindness”.

A Sampling of Halachic and Hashkafic Questions and Concerns asked this past week

  • “Are government stimulus checks subject to ma’aser?”
  • “My sister- in- law bought a kettle. All of the keilim mikvaot are closed. Can her non jewish friend venmo her a dollar to buy the kettle so that the non-Jews owns it and it doesn’t require tevila?”
  • “If I had a bad dream, is there something I can do about it?”
  • “Can a man be yotzei kiddush through a woman? Can a women make kiddush for a man even l’chatchila if they have the same obligation?”
  • “Is the law against turning on lights on Shabbat because it represents lighting fire or because the law against completion on shabbat (and turning on the light completes a circuit)?”
  • “How does one pray for an invalid whose parent is not Jewish? Is there a special mi sheberach?”
  • “ I started dating someone at the beginning of quarantine and, with so few new things happening in our lives and nowhere to go, our conversations are getting very stale very fast. I can’t tell if it’s our compatibility or just the circumstance we’re in right now. What do you recommend?”
  • Given the present health concerns, can one use an electronic thermometer to take their temperature if feeling unwell on shabbat?
  • Does one still need to tovel dishes during Corona?
  • “Can you answer “amen” over Zoom?”