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Saturday, July 22, 2017

“What an amazing program! So much information and so many knowledgeable student representatives under one roof!”

These were some of the many positive comments heard after the annual Jewish Life on Campus Program, held Thursday night, December 22, for the junior parents and students of Torah Academy of Bergen County and Ma’ayanot. All felt privileged to hear from almost thirty student representatives and JLIC rabbis/educators, hailing from almost twenty OU-JLIC (Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus) affiliated universities, including such varied schools as Princeton, Cornell, Binghamton University, Cooper Union, New York University, Columbia/Barnard, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, University of Chicago, Brandeis, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, Rutgers, Queens, Hunter and, of course, Yeshiva University.

The presentation was followed by an informal question and answer period in the gym. Both students and parents appreciated each student highlighting what makes his or her college “Jewishly” unique, with many in the audience filling their programs with notes and others staying late into the evening to ask their specific questions of the many students and JLIC rabbis who participated in the evening. It was both gratifying and heartwarming to see so many TABC and Ma’ayanot alumni, representing a full range of prestigious colleges and talking animatedly about the shiurim, minyanim and other Jewish-related activities that they make it their business to seek out and participate in, no matter which college they attend. Anyone watching so many intelligent and exemplary Jewish youth speaking so eloquently about the Jewish life they have chosen to either participate in or fundamentally create within the colleges of their choice would have been proud.

Most of the colleges have JLIC rabbi educators on their campuses as well, who are sent from the OU and work in partnership with Hillel to help college students navigate the college environment and balance their Jewish commitments with their desire to engage in the secular world. The program was jointly organized by the college guidance departments of TABC and Ma’ayanot, through the diligent work of Dr. Carol Master, who is chair of the English department at TABC, and Director of College Guidance at Ma’ayanot Leebie Mallin.

TABC Head of School Rabbi Yablok and Ma’ayanot Principal Mrs. Kahan introduced the evening, that was attended by Dr. Garry Katz, director of college guidance at TABC, and Dr. Elliot Prager, also part of the TABC college guidance department. Director of Professional Recruitment and Leadership Development at the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC), Rabbi Gideon Black, explained JLIC’s purpose. As a strong testament to all that JLIC does on college campuses, many of the JLIC educators, Tali Weiss of Binghamton, Rabbi Chaim Finson of Cornell, Mrs. Channah Cohen of Queens College, Rabbi Frieberg of Rutgers and alumnus Rabbi Noam Friedman of Columbia also attended. Dr. Katz and Dr. Master had recently met and had the opportunity to discuss the full picture of Jewish life on college campuses with these and other rabbi/educators at the OU-JLIC Conference held on December 15 in New York.