Here is how OU-JLIC has continued to engage, support, inspire and educate its students and their families this past week:

Impact in Numbers

  • 88 advisory meetings took place with OU-JLIC educators and Hillel, Student Groups, or other groups/organizations
  • 350 virtual coffee dates (including chevrutah learning and check ins)
  • 857 texting and whatsapp check-ins with students
  • 66 students were delivered food by OU-JLIC educators
  • 90 Chaburot and Shiurim were given last week by OU-JLIC educators
  • 1,694 students and their family members took part in OU-JLIC chaburot and chevrutot this past week
  • 26 non-learning events and programs took place over the last week
  • 99 divrei Torah were sent by OU-JLIC educators to 6,884 people
  • 358 Halachic questions were answered by OU-JLIC educators and 51 of these questions were related to COVID-19
  • 18 chattanim/kallot were taught by OU-JLIC this past week

Personal Connections

  • A quiet and shy Brandeis student who was scheduled to teach the weekly mishmar called the Greenbergs (Brandeis) concerned about what she should speak about and not confident in her ability to teach Torah to her fellow students. The Greenbergs gave chizzuk to the student and helped her find sources for a topic she was interested in teaching. In the end, she taught one of the most successful mishmars with a large number of participants who complimented her! She was grateful for the Greenbergs help.
  • During the shiva call for a Brooklyn college student whose father passed away, the student remarked to Shira Boshnack (Brooklyn College), “I’m trying to remember what the Rabbi always says: it’s ok to not be ok.”
  • Grateful students at Rutgers University created a Goodbye Video for the Wohlgelernters. The video can be found here:
  • Rabbi Don Cantor advised two Johns Hopkins students who are dating on how to navigate kashrut issues in the young woman’s home (she is a ba’alat teshuvah).
  • The Wolfson-Shmuels (NYU) prepared Friday night dinner for their alumni who work as first responders/essential workers. Freshmen students delivered the dinners.
  • A University of Chicago student was frustrated last Friday after having a very bad day: he traveled via public transportation for over an hour to a kosher supermarket, got there and found out he couldn’t enter without a mask, turned around to head home and then got on the wrong train, and ended up far away in a dangerous neighborhood. On his way home, he stopped by the Singers place to say hi (from a distance) and pick up Shabbat food they made for him. He expressed how much the home cooked meal meant to him and helped him get into “Shabbat mode” after a particularly hard day.

Programming Highlights

  • Rabbi Daniel Kasdan ran an interactive conversation with Cornell students on the topic of ‘Judaism and Television: A Frank Discussion’. The program discussed the Jewish values people take into account (or ignore) when they watch TV.
  • Rabbi Isaac and Tal Attia (Binghamton) ran a class for their Jewish Learning Fellowship on ‘Continuing to Learn While Living with the Questions’. This weekly program included reflective and discussion-style learning about “life’s big questions,” for a cohort of day school graduates. In the last session, the students shared how much they had learned from each other, how much they enjoyed envisioning their future Jewish life, and being able to form a trusting, respectful community of students from different Jewish backgrounds. One student shared, “This cohort helped me realize that when I have difficult hashkafic questions, I am not alone – there are others who have gone through it too, and I can learn from them, but at the same time, I have the opportunity to develop my own answers.”
  • The semesterly #OUJLICstudybreak has been a FAVORITE tradition on many campuses, including Columbia/Barnard. During finals week, the Friedmans usually deliver about 125 snack bags with juice boxes, gushers and other snacks to energize and uplift students all around campuses – in dorms, libraries, cafes and wherever they may be. Rav Noam and Shiffy did not want anyone to miss this experience because of COVID-19 so they found a way to make it happen even under the current conditions. The Friedmans packed up bags with homemade treats – rugelach, cookies and a small challah, collected addresses of students within close driving distance of NYC, and set off to deliver the study snack packages. 16 hours 44 minutes, 411 miles and 6 counties later, they had some incredibly happy students and parents who came to the door and received a snack and a quick shmooze from a distance. Nothing quite replaces seeing someone in person and it was such a joy to see the faces of these students. Rav Noam and Shiffy delivered packages to 48 students, and 3 colleagues.
  • Ahava Schachter Zarembski (University of Illinois) helped one of their student leaders formulate a mental health resource page for the Hillel.
  • Rabbi Aaron Greenberg (Greater Toronto) created the ‘Rise Like a Lion’ series, a 6:00 AM Chabura for students, and a fantastic way to start a productive day.
  • Rabbi Tzvi and Tali Wohlgelernter (Rutgers) organized an alumni mishmar event. Eight alumni from the last 2 years shared brief divrei Torah. Several current students texted that they want to return as alumni to share Torah.
  • Rabbi Nick and Orit Faguet (SMC) ran an open and frank discussion on “Dating Do’s and Dont’s”. They discussed what to look for in a spouse and red flags to watch out for. 41 students joined from SMC, UCLA and CSUN.
  • Rabbi Raffi and Ariella Leicht (UMass Amherst) partnered with UMass Hillel and NATAL to host a mental health workshop. NATAL, Israel Trauma and Resilience center, presented on Stress, Covid-19 and Everything In Between, working directly with students over Zoom to workshop resiliency skills and talk about mental health.
  • Rabbi Dr. Rod Najibi is teaching a new Hilchot Kedushat Beit Haknesset series. He felt this was a particularly opportune time to teach this chabura given that klal yisrael is denied the privilege of being present in shuls and Batei midrashim. Rabbi Najibi is teaching the the Halachot of proper conduct in a shul with hopes of a speedy return and a second chance at making our shuls the mikdashei me’at they are really meant to be. These classes are given in the format of short recordings sent to the students on a daily basis over WhatsApp.
  • Yavneh organized a TVA Leadership training with Jeremy Tibbetts (OU Yavneh) & Tal Attia (Binghamton). The students had the chance to explore their values and passions and to draft a vision of their “ideal jewish community”.

Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut Programming

  • At IDC Herzliya, of all the unique elements of this international community, a love for and commitment to Israel is at the top of the list. The community is proud of all of their students who have chosen to pick up their lives and make aliyah and many students have served in the IDF. The student leadership was therefore particularly passionate about creating a meaningful and personal Yom Hazikaron ceremony. Organised with 2nd year law student Chanani Levy, 7 students spoke about someone dear to them who they had lost including Ari Fuld, Ezra Schwartz and others. There were over 65 zoom devices on the call and another 400 on facebook live.
  • Columbia/Barnard and NYU partnered on a powerful tekes ma’avar from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut. Students from both communities shared their reflections and poems they had written. The program was enhanced by stirring tefilla and guest words from Ambassador Danny Danon.
  • Rutgers organized a tekes maavar where a former Rutgers student who just finished his service with the IDF addressed the students. After the tekes, there was a tefila chagigit celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut.
  • Rabbi Gideon Black (OU-JLIC National) spoke over zoom for several campuses including University of Chicago, Queens College, NYU and Bar Ilan about his experience surviving a terror attack in Israel.
  • Rabbi Mati and Shira Kahn (Princeton) initiated a Yom Haatzmaut Seder which included Hallel and a Haggadah where various students shared reflections from Israel and blessings for Israel. Many students shared that without the ‘Yom Ha’atzmaut Seder’ they would not have done anything in honor of the day.
  • At Bar-Ilan University, there was a plethora of virtual Yom Ha’atzmaut programming including shiurim, a paint night (students picked up supplies from the Peles home and then painted with them from their respective homes) and a special video recorded by Sivan Rachav Meir for the Bar-Ilan University community.
  • The Greenbergs at Brandeis university sent a fun Yom Ha’atzmaut activity to students: a virtual escape room game with riddles and questions about Israel and Zionism.

A Sample of Halachic Questions and Concerns posed to educators this past week

  • As part of my mishmar shiur, I want to compare Jewish and Chistian perspectives on the Self. Am I allowed to put a part of the Christian Bible on my torah source sheet?
  • Could one attach a device, on the string, that actively measures the height of the device (and hence the eruv string) so people don’t need to check the eruv and just have the device communicate the information, to a portal, if the eruv is up?
  • When should I get married, we just got engaged? This question is due to finances.
  • What Halachic issues should I be aware of for an advanced directive?
  • Can I volunteer at a food bank and make non kosher food for non Jews?
  • Can I schedule a post on Facebook today that will post itself on shabbat/chag? It is for an organization, not a personal page”.
  • My bride’s father is immuno-compromised which will severely limit the number of people able to attend our wedding. Does a wedding need a minyan?
  • Can you order food from a store where the estimated arrival slot is on shabbat from 3pm-10pm?
  • I am davening together with the family at home. As you know I have a lot of siblings. Do we need to put up a mechitzah if it is just our family?
  • If one was counting a day ahead in the omer can they still count with a bracha?
  • Since an N-95 mask doesn’t fully seal the mouth from pathogens, viruses, etc, with a beard, is it permissible to shave without restriction during this time?
  • I am on a volunteer list for the Jewish Federation, to buy and deliver groceries to elderly people in quarantine. Someone, who seems to be Jewish, ordered non kosher meat. How do I handle it?
  • Does a candidate for conversion who is already keeping kosher need to rekasher dishes or is it enough to tovel?
  • Are you allowed to kill lice (hair lice) on Shabbat?

Thank you,