This past August, the OU published the first-ever, much-anticipated OU-JLIC college guide, designed to assist Orthodox parents, educators and students in making informed choices about college. Called the OU-JLIC Guide: Jewish Life on the College Campus, the thoroughly researched, sixty-six page full-color magazine opens by highlighting the advantages of attending Orthodox colleges. “When selecting which college to attend, students should seriously consider whether they will thrive spiritually and religiously at a secular college,” notes the guide.
Offering detailed descriptions of Touro’s Lander Colleges and Yeshiva University, the guide advises students that “while there are significant learning opportunities at secular colleges, it does not add up quantitatively or qualitatively to the learning opportunities found [at Orthodox colleges] . . . that are specifically designed to . . . help students with their spiritual growth.”
For those students who choose not to attend an Orthodox college, the guide provides profiles of twenty-five schools and specific information about campus amenities such as minyanim, kosher meal plans, learning programs, and the existence of eruvs and various Jewish groups on campus.
“Of course, there are great Orthodox schools, such as Yeshiva University and Touro College, where students can study in a supportive Jewish environment and focus on further developing their Torah learning,” writes Rabbi Ilan Haber, national director of the OU’s Heshe & Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC), in the introduction. “However, for those students who are going to attend secular colleges, we believe this guide is an excellent resource.”
Distilling OU-JLIC’s broad experience and understanding of Jewish campus life, the guide was distributed as a supplement to the fall issue of Jewish Action and sent to synagogues around the country as well as to NCSY regions and selected high schools. OU-JLIC, now entering its sixteenth year of providing educational support and programming to day school graduates on campus, has rabbinic couples serving nearly 5,000 day school graduates on twenty-two campuses.
Understanding the amenities available to religious Jews on campus can be a challenging endeavor, notes Rabbi Haber in the introduction. For example, universities may say that they provide kosher food, but on one campus that could mean a full meal plan in a central location on campus, while on another campus it may mean that you can get kosher sandwiches in a convenience store—two very different situations. While OU-JLIC educators are on many popular campuses, the guide includes additional universities with significant Orthodox communities even though they do not have an OU-JLIC educator. The guide includes articles on Israel advocacy, campus housing, and the challenges of being Orthodox on campus, among other topics. The publication has generated an overwhelmingly positive response from educators and parents alike.
“We’ve received numerous phone calls praising the guide and requests for additional copies,” said Hani Lowenstein, associate editor of the publication. As incredible a resource as the new guide is, Rabbi Haber cautions students not to limit themselves to the guide. “A college guide should just be the beginning of the college search . . . and students should always visit the campus.”
To request a copy of the college guide, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 212.613.8287. To read the guide online, visit /jliconline.org.