Student Leader of OU JLIC Program at Yale Awarded German Rhodes Scholarship

20 Dec 2012


Ela Naegele

When Ela Naegele, a German international student at Yale University who was awarded the German Rhodes Scholarship earlier this month, arrived at the prestigious campus as a freshman, her concerns of what to expect for Jewish life on campus were relieved upon meeting Yale’s Orthodox Union Torah Educators from the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program. Now as a senior studying history and philosophy, Ela has become an active leader within JLIC and the Orthodox community on campus.

Ela stated, “JLIC has been a major part of my college experience. The Jewish community has been at the center of my life at Yale, and Rabbi Noah and Sarah Cheses — as before them Rabbi Jason and Meira Rappoport — form the heart of this community. Their warm and thoughtful presence creates a pillar of Torah on campus that serves as a role model and inspiration to all of us.”

Rabbi Noah and Sarah Cheses serve as the OU Torah Educators at Yale, in partnership with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Additionally Rabbi and Mrs. Cheses serve as active and collaborative staff members of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, which hosts and partially supports the program.

Last Fall, they succeeded Rabbi and Mrs. Rappoport, who welcomed Ela to campus during their extraordinary nine years at Yale. The Cheses recalled, “When we arrived at Yale, Ela was the co-president of the Orthodox Community. She welcomed our family with warmth and thoughtfulness, including a lovely gift for our daughter Adina.”

Found on 16 campuses across the United States and Canada, JLIC supports Jewish students attending secular universities by hiring Orthodox rabbinic couples to serve as Jewish educators, role models and community organizers on campus; and who have developed a unique methodology centered on relationship building, Jewish learning, enhancing of community and communal infrastructure; pastoral and halachic counseling; and student leadership development.

According to Ela, “I have learned one-on-one with Sarah Cheses for the past two years, and did the same with Meira Rappoport beforehand. I attend JLIC shiurim and of course the wonderful Shabbat dinners and holiday parties that the Cheseses host in their home.”

Rabbi Cheses noted, “As one of the leaders of the Orthodox community at Yale, Ela directed her quiet charisma into orchestrating numerous activities from Shabbatonim to ski trips. Ela accompanied me and my wife to the JLIC leadership Shabbaton last year, where she brought her broad mindedness to bear on some of the most pressing issues facing observant students on the college campus.”

He continued, “My wife and I continue to be impressed by Ela’s far reaching diligence and astounding modesty. We look forward to following her promising future, as she plans to study modern British and European history at Oxford, while also focusing on theories of international law to bring her many gifts to the wider world.”

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life