Semester is Done But Learning Doesn’t Have to be: OU-JLIC Beit Midrash Opens for Winter Break, January 4-8, in New York

18 Dec 2014
JLIC Beit Midrash at University of Maryland.

With a focus on the university environment as a marketplace of ideas and experiences that pose both challenges and opportunities to an Orthodox Jew’s observance and commitment, the first ever “Intercollegiate Winter Beit Midrash” will be presented by the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program of the Orthodox Union for undergraduate and graduate men and women, to strengthen their knowledge and applications of Jewish law and Jewish life as they go about their daily interactions on secular campuses.

Through the lens of Chazal (an acronym referring to Jewish sages from the times of the final 300 years of the Second Temple in Jerusalem until the 6th century CE), the JLIC Beit Midrash will highlight “Jews and the Broader Community” — analyzing the role of the Jewish people as the Chosen People as it pertains to social/societal, religious, intellectual, and political matters.

The five-day program will take place Sunday, January 4 through Thursday, January 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Jewish Center, 131 W. 86th Street in Manhattan. Classes will be held at varying levels of learning for students from a variety of universities.

In recognition that the majority of Modern Orthodox college students are being educated at secular universities, the OU, in partnership with Hillel, administers JLIC to  help Orthodox students navigate the college environment, and balance their Jewish commitments with their desire to engage the secular world.

Found at 21 universities in the United States and Canada, JLIC places rabbinic couples to serve as Torah Educators on these secular campuses, providing a support system and vehicle for Jewish growth for yeshiva and day school graduates and other religiously committed students.

Students are currently registered for the JLIC Winter Beit Midrash from Binghamton University; Brandeis University; Brooklyn College; Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles); Queens College; University of Maryland College Park; University of Massachusetts Amherst; and University of Pennsylvania.

JLIC at New York University.

“Just as JLIC provides rabbinic educator couples during the semester to ensure, cultivate and develop religious spiritual growth of students on campus throughout the academic year, we wanted to establish a program over winter vacation as a bridge to fill in that time with meaningful Torah learning and religious development,” explained Rabbi Ilan Haber, JLIC national director. The program is coordinated by Hani Lowenstein, JLIC student leadership and educational resources associate.

Rabbi Menachem Schrader, founding director of JLIC, will give a daily class on bechirat Yisrael b’shmonah esrei u’brachot (the Chosen People in daily prayer and blessings.)

Shared Rabbi Schrader, “The JLIC Beit Midrash will allow me to directly interact educationally with some of our students, something I do not get much of a chance to do. Those who come must be already motivated to learn. What more could a teacher want? Perhaps this will be a first contact with future JLIC Torah Educators as well.”

A combination of lectures and learning b’chavruta (with partners) will be taught by JLIC staff, including Rabbi Gideon Black of New York University; Rabbi David and Ariel Pardo of Brandeis; and Rabbi Yaakov and Racheli Taubes of the University of Pennsylvania.  Additional independent learning, as well as one-on-one learning with JLIC staff will be offered daily.

They will be joined by an all-star lineup of guest speakers: Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president, emeritus of the Orthodox Union; Rabbi Shalom Carmy, assistant professor of Jewish Philosophy and Bible at Yeshiva University; Rabbi Dovid Zirkind, assistant rabbi of The Jewish Center; Rabbi Daniel Fridman, resident scholar of The Jewish Center; and Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier, JLIC educator at Yale University.

The week will address questions, such as: How do we define Chosen people? What is to be our relationship with our non-Jewish neighbors, colleagues, and general society? How do I relate to the academic study of the Bible and the questions it poses? From the perspective of Jewish law, to what extent may I explain my Jewish practices to my non-Jewish colleagues? As the values, mores, and dress of the broader community change with time, what is the appropriate response to these changes according to Orthodox Judaism? To what extent does the State of Israel play a role in the Jewish community and the broader world? What should our relationship to secular knowledge be according to the perspectives of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook?

A daily segment on Jewish law will study eating kosher in a non-kosher world, organ donation, entering other houses of worship, and others.

Participation is $150, and includes breakfast and lunch.  For further information and registration, visit or contact