Don’t Let School Get in the Way of Your Education

Parsha and Pizza at UCLA, headed by JLIC

by Adina Wolkenfeld (2012), Bioengineering major and JLIC Intern

The Hillel at UCLA presents a vibrant and diverse array of Jewish experiences for students. A broad spectrum of programming—ranging from Israel advocacy to “Challah for Hunger” social activism—exists at the Hillel at UCLA, yet JLIC stands alone in providing a framework particularly designed to meet the specific needs of Orthodox students on campus. JLIC provides kashrut supervision, daily minyanim, lively and inspiring shabbatot and yom tov celebrations, and, of course, Torah learning.

JLIC has made UCLA the center of Orthodox college life on the West Coast. It has not only united the diverse group of students at UCLA into a strong and close-knit, community, but it has made UCLA a popular destination for Orthodox students from out of town. Commuter students often choose to spend Shabbat on campus, while many students who attend other area colleges choose to live near the UCLA campus in order to be part of UCLA’s warm and inclusive JLIC community and the social and educational programming it offers.

I had the privilege of attending a Jewish day school and high school and even spent a year studying in Israel before I came to UCLA. I strongly believe that one’s Torah learning does not need to stop just because it is not a part of the formal curriculum. Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan, the JLIC representatives at UCLA, are always available to learn with students of all backgrounds both in small groups or one on one. In my official class schedule, alongside my “Intro to Bioengineering 2:00”, I pencil in “Halacha: Shulchan Aruch 4:00”.

As the JLIC intern, I help organize shiurim, including the weekly Parsha ’n Pizza program that features guest speakers and free pizza (the key to a successful event in college). I also help solicit divrei Torah from my fellow JLICers, prepare for yomim tovim, and organize shabbatonim. As the JLIC intern, I put to good use the leadership skills I learned from my involvement as an NCSYer in high school and as a counselor on GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience). The openness and energy of JLIC and my older siblings’ involvement in JLIC helped me feel comfortable joining the Orthodox campus community when I first came to UCLA.

UCLA has tens of thousands of students and offers hundred of classes and extra-curricular activities. The quarter system makes the academic experience here fast-paced and challenging. JLIC allows students to engage in serious Torah study and to maintain their Jewish identity while they pursue the enriching and diverse opportunities UCLA offers.