Campus Fellows Report: November 2018

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To our members and friends,


Our Campus Fellows continue to do terrific work on their college campuses. Each runs two programs per semester sponsored by our Institute, with the goal of promoting our core values on campus and recruiting new members to our University Network. Please read about our latest campus programs!

Thank you, 

Rabbi Hayyim Angel

National Scholar


Yona Benjamin, Columbia University

Our first program was a great success. we had very high turnout for the shiur discussing how readings of halachic sources about Shabbat engender a sense of communal and personal balance and propriety.


Our second program will be a lunch and learn attended by a number of Day School graduates and recent baalei teshuva in which we will discuss what Halachic life means to us /how campus community as well as college studies inform our understanding of what Jewish life should be like. 


Corey Gold, Harvard

Rabbi Menachem Leibtag came to Harvard Hillel and gave a shiur for a dinner and learn on October 11th. About 30 people were in attendance for his shiur titled “The Flood: A Story About Noah or a Story About Moses?”

Rabbi Saul Berman will join us as our Scholar-in-Residence on the Shabbat of November 9-10. He’ll be speaking in the evening, giving the drasha, and also teaching a lunch and learn. His topics are: Petitional Prayer in the Amidah; Reflections on Pittsburgh and Q and A; Holiness in Productivity: The Contemporary Challenge; The Abortion of a “Defective” Fetus: The Debate between Rabbis Waldenberg and Feinstein; Open Q and A.


Mikey Pollack and Aryeh Roberts, University of Maryland

On September 13, we had about 30 people come to the teshuva learning event, with seven different Jewish educators giving 10 minutes presentations each. The educators ranged from an JTS ordained rabbi, to OU-JLIC educators, to the Chabad Rabbi, to the director of Maryland Hillel. We had fresh fruit and cookies served. Students took copies of Conversations and inquired about the University Network.


Our second event was a Scholar-in-Residence shabbat with Ms. Laura Shaw Frank and Rabbi Aaron Frank, two weeks ago. We learned about how to bring the spirit of the holidays into the month of cheshvan, the history of the Jews' fight for religious freedom in America, the nature of friendship in the Rambam (and how we can improve our own relationships!), and the importance of social justice (as shown in Parshat Noach). It was an inspiring and fascinating shabbat! 


Zachary Tankel, McGill University

The first program we would like to run this semester is a discussion-group based on one of the chapters of Conversations. The event will be held on October 25th. 


For the second event, our JLIC rabbi from last year has offered to drive to Montreal from Ottawa to give a shiur. I am hoping to hold this event on the fifteenth of November.


Devora Chait, Queens College

Our first event of the semester was part of a series called “Apartment Parsha”, where students lead an exploration of the week’s Torah reading, hosted in a student apartment. The aim of Apartment Parsha is for students to be actively involved in shaping their own Torah learning, and for engaging in an honest and inquisitive examination of the parsha. We hope to run a few more Apartment Parsha events this semester.


Our second event is called “Beit Midrash Opportunity Launch.” The goal is to introduce students to the Beit Midrash on campus, help them find learning partners, create learning groups, and feel comfortable and excited about Torah learning on campus. We will begin the event with learning partner study, we will join together for a group discussion of the sources, and we will assist students in finding and building regular Torah learning opportunities on campus.


Raffi Levi and Benjamin Nechmad, Rutgers

First, we will be doing a workshop with Rabbi Hart Levine on Jewish Leadership and Intentional Jewish Community building in December. Secondly, we will hopefully be hosting Rabbi Mike Moskowitz to speak on Trans Inclusivity and the Orthodox Community. In addition to this, we have been working with OU-JLIC to host Rav Dov Zinger who may be speaking on Chasidut in the Religious Zionist community.


Ora Friedman, Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University

On Tuesday, November 27 we will be having our Opening Event Kumsitz on the theme of “Spirituality and Our Relationship with Hashem.”  I will begin the event by showing Rabbi Marc Angel’s YouTube video titled “Welcome to the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.” Rabbi Gamliel Shmalo, a Jewish philosophy professor at Stern, will be leading a short discussion. After Rabbi Shmalo speaks, we will have a kumsitz.

I am hoping that the second event will be based on the theme of the Institute’s journal “Conversion to Judaism.” I am hoping that this second event will take place the week of December 10.


Asher Naghi, UCLA

We intend on having weekly or biweekly discussion groups on questions of Jewish ethics. If he’s willing, we hope to bring in Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom to lead a discussion at least once, if not more. 


Kalila Courban, UMass

We have had two events. The first was a lecture followed by hevruta with a local rabbi surrounding the halakha of sleep. The second event was following Pittsburgh in which we hosted an open discussion about the importance of being steadfast in faith and observance not only in the wake of tragedy and the Jewish implications of how tragedy impacts us as a people throughout history. This was followed with some text study and hevruta as well.


Ari Barbalat, University of Toronto

 I plan to do two Hanukkah-related topics and themes:


A) Is Religious Pacifism a Viable Option?: The Teachings of Philo of Alexandria 


B) Are Human Beings Innately Good? Jewish Philosophy and the Yemenite Children Affair.