Voices from the Campus: An Introduction

One-quarter of the students who come to secular college as Orthodox Jews report that they have changed their denominational identity while at college…. Two out of three Jewish college students change their level of Jewish observance during their college years. Notably, they are almost twice as likely to decrease their observance as they are to increase it.
(Avi Chai Foundation, “Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus,” Report, Jan. 2006)

What’s it like to be an Orthodox student on campus these days? What are the particular spiritual challenges? The opportunities? While the statistics above are rather grim, they do not reflect the whole picture. To get a broader sense of the realities facing Orthodox youth on campus, we asked three students—all of whom are involved with the Orthodox Union’s Heshe & Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC)*—to speak openly and honestly about their personal struggles and triumphs.

*The Orthodox Union, in partnership with Hillel, administers JLIC, a program that helps Orthodox students navigate the college environment.

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This article was featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Jewish Action.
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