The university environment is a marketplace of ideas and experiences that can pose both challenges and opportunities to an Orthodox Jew’s observance and commitment.  Recognizing that the majority of Modern Orthodox college students are being educated at secular universities, the OU, in partnership with Hillel, administers the Orthodox Union Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC).  This program helps Orthodox students navigate the college environment, and balance their Jewish commitments with their desire to engage the secular world.  Toward this end, OU-JLIC places Orthodox rabbinic couples on over 20 college campuses in the U.S. and Canada to serve as Torah educators and role models.

OU-JLIC educators strive to enhance the learning opportunities available to students, and also to bolster an infrastructure for Orthodox life to flourish. They offer weekly Shiurim and classes, bring guest speakers and events to campus, and make key Orthodox necessities, such as Kashrut, Chagim and Shabbat, easier to observe and more meaningful.  Educators also strive for a more individualized touch, getting to know students personally.   Students grace their Shabbat tables as regular guests, interact with them in informal settings, such as the cafeteria, and learn with them B’Chavruta. The regular availability of the educator families creates a comfort level that enables students to confide in them and seek advice for their more serious issues, whether of a halachic, personal, or intellectual nature.

OU-JLIC educators are considered full members of the Hillel staff, and they interact with a large number of students both Orthodox and non-Orthodox.  Hillels are often thankful for the presence of our program, not only because it enables them to better serve the Orthodox populations on campus, but also because it bolsters their ability to offer educational/spiritual services to all of their Jewish students. While the primary impetus of OU- JLIC is to serve those who are observant, rather than to do outreach in the classic sense, we have found that our educators have had a substantive impact on a broader population as well.