OU-JLIC Facilitates Jewish Learning, Community, and More on 22 Secular College Campuses in North America – And Now One in Israel

NOV 6, 2017, New York, NY — It was an historic moment for the OU’s Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC) this past October with the launch of the first-ever campus program in Israel, at the Raphael Recanati International School of the Interdisciplinary School (IDC), in Herzliya. Of the roughly 2,000 students in the international program, about 400 are Orthodox—and about 150 of those are North American day school graduates, a rapidly growing demographic at the school.

“The Orthodox Union is extremely proud of the incredible contribution provided by the leadership and staff of OU-JLIC,” the OU’s President, Moishe Bane stated. “Growth in Torah study and mitzva observance is imperative at every stage of life, including for those attending university. OU-JLIC provides students with the encouragement and tools to pursue such ongoing growth.”

Now in its 18th year, OU-JLIC works to advance the Torah education and commitment of Orthodox students at 23 secular universities, helping students observe key aspects of Jewish life, from tefilla and kashrut to Shabbat, and chagim. OU-JLIC’s Torah educators provide a spiritual home for Jewish students from all backgrounds. Educators offer regular study sessions, organize guest speakers and events, and nurture one-on-one relationships with the students, so they’re always available to advise on practical, personal, and halachic issues of all kinds.

“The students reached out to us, eager to have OU-JLIC help create and support religious life on campus,” says Rabbi Ilan Haber, National Director of OU-JLIC.

OU-JLIC at IDC has become a reality through the support of a lead grant by the Mayberg Foundation, generous parents, and student momentum. The Mayberg Foundation creates a vibrant Jewish future firmly rooted in foundational Jewish principles and inclusive of diverse perspectives, by investing in organizations and initiatives with bold ideas – to inspire, educate, and strengthen Jewish community.

“I cannot think of a better investment parents can make in their children’s future,” says Jonathan Davis, Vice President of External Relations and Head of the Raphael Recanati International School at IDC. “What OU-JLIC is doing is they’re already building a community here. There are dozens of people on their doorsteps who want to get involved. It is extremely exciting.”

Rabbi Josh and Margot Botwinick

For OU-JLIC at IDC Herzliya, a perfect campus couple was already on Rabbi Haber’s radar. Both Rabbi Josh and Margot (Reinstein) Botwinick have extensive educational and communal experience, including working at Camp Stone, where they met. Rabbi Josh directed Bnei Akiva of NY/NJ’s Innovative School Programming project, which brings Israel-themed educational programs into schools. He was Youth Director at Congregation Ohav Sholom in Merrick, Long Island, and served as the Rabbinic Intern at the Roslyn Synagogue. Margot taught Tanach, Talmud and Jewish thought at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, NJ and has coordinated winter camps in Moscow. She and Rabbi Josh are Co-Directors of Jewish Experience at Sephardic Adventure Camp.

In 2016 Rabbi Josh and Margot moved to Israel and were learning and teaching in the Gush – Rav Josh at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), and Margot at Matan and Midreshet Torah V’Avodah. The couple jumped at the opportunity be part of the OU-JLIC in Israel, quickly moving with their son Yoshi to Herzliya.

In addition to providing typical OU-JLIC programming including chavrutot, shiurim and Shabbatonim, the Botwinicks will provide IDC students with a much-needed sense of community and family.

Margot running a Bracha Party with student from IDC Herzliya

“We’ve been blown away by the explosion of interest and participation at the launch of our program,” said Nathaniel Mayberg and David Ostrofsky, two of the students behind the new campus. “The first week we had over 90 students for Kabbalat Shabbat, Friday night dinner, oneg and seudat shlisheit with havdalah. The second week we had a successful all-girls challah bake, two shiurim, and two seudat shlisheits with havdala. We estimate we’ve had 130 students participate in our events, and we’re just getting started!”

“These North American students are far from home, away from their families in a foreign country. OU-JLIC gives them personal, communal support,” says Rabbi Jonathan Shulman, OU-JLIC Israel Coordinator.

OU-JLIC Is excited to welcome Rabbi Josh and Margot to their family of 52 Torah Educators and over 4,400 Jewish students.

OU-JLIC in partnership with Hillel is on campuses in the U.S. and Canada including NYU, Columbia/Barnard, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, University of Maryland, Brandeis University and UCLA, among others. For a full list of current OU-JLIC campuses, visit www.oujlic.org/currentCampuses.