A group of campus Shluchim met this past Monday for the first in-person gathering in many months with a very specific goal at hand: to onboard 25 new members for Chabad on Campus’s groundbreaking educational program—JewishU.
A group of campus Shluchim met this past Monday for the first in-person COVID-safe gathering of its kind in many months. But unlike other such summits and conferences, there was a very specific goal at hand: to onboard twenty-five new members for Chabad on Campus’s innovative and groundbreaking educational program—JewishU.
After years of research and feedback from countless Shluchim in the field, JewishU is, indeed, a revolutionary program that can take up an entire summit, as it tackles a gaping hole in the ecosystem of Jewish student life. Already in its third year after much beta testing and piloting with Chabad Houses in the field, it has garnered an impressive track record of success.
It is a challenge that countless Shluchim have grappled with, and to date, with no satisfying answer: how do we make Limud Hatorah a serious and ongoing element of a student’s college experience?”
“Hundreds of thousands of students have passed through Chabad House doors over the years, and there really isn’t a systemized, ongoing Jewish education program available, and it’s a serious blind spot,” said Rabbi Shlomie Chein, VP of Student Engagement at Chabad on Campus International & Shliach at the University of S. Cruz.
To address this problem, Chabad on Campus International started extensive research some years back, looking to discover the key components that will produce a program that is professional, educational, accessible, and relatable to the average student.
And thus, JewishU was born.
“The question we asked ourselves is ‘Why?’ says Chein. Why shouldn’t Jewish education be up to par with, if not higher than, a student’s standard “higher education”? After all, does the university offer ‘Science and Spaghetti’ or ‘Chemistry and Chumus?’ Of course not! We realized that it was time to overhaul our approach to Torah education on Campus.”
In the words of a recent JewishU participant “JewishU was a really incredible experience for me this semester. The fact that each class was just once a week made it super easy to fit into a busy college schedule. After each lesson, you’re always left with something to meditate on for the week to come, which gives you the chance to apply your Jewish learning to your entire life. I feel like I’ve taken a massive step forward in my Jewish education through JewishU and I’m leaving the semester with countless new ideas that I can apply to various situations.”
“When a student signs up for JewishU, it’s not just attending another Chabad event,” said Chein. “They are enrolling into a serious academy of higher learning, on par with the academic experience they receive in the university they’re attending. And as they are immersed in the academy, the learning builds on itself, one course leading to another to create a homogenous Jewish learning experience.”
For over 40 Chabad Houses that already offer JewishU, the benefits are already showing. As Rabbi Yossy Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International, says, “Just a few years back, the dream of transforming campus Chabad houses into academies of Torah learning and deeply impacting Jewish student’s lives forever was just that—a dream. To see so many Shluchim getting on board and seeing the results for themselves is just tremendous, and a true testament to the Rebbe’s vision of conquering the world with limud hatorah.”