A Young Rabbi and His Wife Bring Warmth of Jewish Life to Cornell Through OU’s JLIC Program

31 Oct 2006


Direct from Israel, a young rabbi and his wife have come to the Cornell campus to bring the warmth of Judaism to students, even as a cold winter approaches.

Rabbi Hilik and Vered Frank are the new Torah educators of the Orthodox Union’s Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program, which is found on 13 prestigious campuses nationwide, including Cornell. Other new JLIC couples are in residence at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, where the program debuted this fall.
JLIC, operating in coordination with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Student Life and the Torah Mitzion organization, features intensive study of Jewish texts, Sabbath and holiday observance, daily synagogue services, as well as mentoring and good companionship. It is dedicated to the enhancement of Orthodox communities (kehilot) on campus by promoting positive growth and identity among Jewish students, therefore serving as one of the incubators of the future of Orthodoxy.

The program is open to all Jewish students, regardless of level of observance. The couple, based at Hillel, also serves as rabbinic advisors for the Center for Jewish Living at Cornell University (CJL).

Rabbi Frank grew up in Haifa, Israel, served in the prestigious Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, and studied at Yeshivat Har Eyzion and Yeshivat Siach Yitchak. In addition, he earned a degree in physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rabbi Frank studied and taught at the kollel (institute for advanced Jewish education) of JLIC sponsor Torah Mitzion in New York for six months.

Vered is also a native of Haifa. She served in the army as a teacher-soldier, studied Torah at the Midreshet Lindenbaum yeshiva in Jerusalem, and also graduated from the Hebrew University, with a degree in physics and Jewish Philosophy.

According to Rabbi Ilan Haber, Jerusalem-based Director of the campus program, “The new JLIC couples are all off to really excellent starts on their campuses. I am very excited about their unique blend of qualities and talents, and what they bring to their respective campus communities. The feedback that I have received about the Franks and the others has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The Cornell couple got to know their students in the recently concluded month-long period of Jewish holidays, which began with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and concluded with Sukkot and Simchat Torah. During this period, they initiated their chavruta program, of one-on-one Torah study, with what Hilik calls, “a very nice response.” Among other activities, Vered has started a Thursday class on Bible (Tanach), and Hilik has introduced a class on the weekly Torah portion (the parsha) following Sabbath morning services.

“We plan to start more programs soon and we are asking students to come up with ideas and requests,” the Franks say. “We are Hillel staff members and we hope to have many programs with the various Hillel groups. In the short term, we want to get to know as many people as possible and to learn in different ways with as many of them as possible. In the long term, we would like students to know that they have a Jewish address on campus and that they will be able to have a meaningful Jewish experience while at Cornell.”

The Franks can be reached at yrf2@cornell.edu or at 607-255-0196.