The leadership of the Orthodox Union and the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) brought together over 25 Orthodox campus leader from over 20 college campuses* throughout North America for the 2nd Annual Orthodox Collegiate Leadership Summit. The driving forces behind the Summit were Rabbi David Felsenthal, the Director of OU Next Gen Programming, and Rabbi Ilan Haber, the Director of JLIC. The goal of the Summit was to bring together and create a network of young, passionate, Orthodox student leaders on campus, with the hopes that such a network would provide an opportunity for students across the country to support and share resources with each other.

The Summit participants were representatives from campuses that varied in student body size, location, size of Jewish population and size of Orthodox population. The participants were students that are currently active leaders within their campuses Orthodox and greater Jewish communities.

In addition to a spiritually uplifting Shabbat experience with delicious food, beautiful singing and t’filah, inspirational shiurim and lectures, the students engaged in dynamic and informative discussions and sessions as part of a practical and productive program created by Rabbi Ilan Haber, Director of JLIC and Hart Levine, Director of Heart to Heart. The program was geared to deal with the unique needs and challenges of Orthodox students and identifying the manner in which a national framework of students, with the support of the OU, could help meet those needs and support the healthy growth and functioning of those communities.

Participants benefited tremendously from the Summit environment and overall experience. The group bonded over shared passion for the betterment and future of the Jewish community at large. Each student walked away with a renewed sense of empowerment, inspiration, hope and support. But the benefits of the summit did not stop on the individual level, and campuses have begun to see exciting changes thanks to the hard work and leadership of the delegates. For example, David Hartman at University of California – Berkeley and Melanie Miller at University of Florida, delegates from those campuses, organized the first ever weekday and Shabbat morning minyans on their campuses, respectively.

The Summit also culminated with a list of initiatives for which the group decided it would be a priority to take responsibility for. Each initiative emerged with a committee, point people, and OU professional mentors, and each one has the potential to impact the national collegiate community.

Through the chizuk (encouragement) and ingrained sense of responsibility that the students are receiving, the venue for sharing of resources and ideas, and creation of a network of intercollegiate programming and collaboration, the domino effects of this OU Shabbaton are setting the stage for exciting, innovative and necessary endeavors to create a more comfortable, meaningful and fun experience for Orthodox college students everywhere.

Special thanks to the NextGen, JLIC and Heart to Heart teams for making the Summit a smashing success and for their continued commitment to continuity of Judaism and the fostering of the future leaders of our people.

*Bergen Community College
Binghamton University
Brooklyn College
Carleton University
Carnegie Mellon University
Cleveland State University
Columbia University
Hunter College
Johns Hopkins University
University of Maryland
Northwestern University
Oakton CC (Chicago)
Parsons The New School for Design
University of Pennsylvania
Queens College
Rutgers- New Brunswick
SUNY Albany
UC Berkeley
University of Florida
University of Illinois
University of Maryland