OU COLLEGIATE PARTNERS WITH HEART TO HEART TO ENHANCE JEWISH LIFE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
Hart Levine, founder and director of The Heart to Heart Project– a program in partnership with OU Collegiate Engagement — was a leading nominee to be named the 2011 Jewish Community Hero. The winner of the third annual online campaign, a project of The Jewish Federations of North America, will be announced on Wednesday, December 7. According to the contest website, Hart could win $25,000 for doing “socially conscious work dedicated to helping others.”
Heart to Heart is currently found on 33 college campuses across North America, and growing. OU Collegiate includes JLIC, NCSY Alumni and OU Birthright and is a natural partner for the program, as the department promotes maintaining connections with young alumni of NCSY and other Orthodox Union programs who are now on college campuses.
Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, OU Director of Collegiate Engagement, explained, “Heart to Heart is an independent grass roots movement of active Jewish students sharing the beauty of Torah Judaism with non-active Jewish students who are living in their dorms and attending the same classes — friends sharing what they love with their friends. Many of the active students are NCSY alumni and yeshiva/day school graduates who participate in the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC).” JLIC places Orthodox Jewish rabbinic couples to serve as Torah Educators within the Hillels on 15 college campuses in the United States and Canada, and thereby bridging campus life with Torah life.
Rabbi Dave, as he is known, met Hart at his first leadership Shabbaton four years ago sponsored by the OU. Hart knew this was the target audience to help him maximize and extend his program on college campuses. Rabbi Dave explained, “The OU believes in the importance of the peer-to-peer relationship, hence we took a special partnership with the Heart to Heart program. I supervise Hart Levine professionally, and he is considered a member of our Alumni staff. We help to train the leadership; provide them with office space and supplies; and are their largest funder.”
Hart Levine earned his Bachelor’s in Science in Bioengineering from of the University of Pennsylvania, which has a strong JLIC program. The newlywed recently began his rabbinical studies at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), in addition to his fulltime position at Heart to Heart. A graduate of New York’s Ramaz School and Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem, Hart embraced the vibrant Jewish life of Penn as an active participant in JLIC.
“Heart to Heart enables students to reach out to others who would not normally be involved, and to share their own Jewish experiences. Beyond the effects it has on students themselves, it strengthens the vibrancy of Jewish life on their respective campuses,” Hart shared.
Rabbi Dave emphasized, “I feel that the only way to reach the large majority of our Jewish students on campus and to connect them to the great existing Jewish programs such as JLIC is through the peer-to-peer friendships of programs like Heart to Heart. I can’t overestimate its potential for good for the entire Jewish people.”
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