Ahead of the new college semester, the team of Chabad on Campus International gathered for two days in Long Island to take a step back and connect, develop skills, and focus on their core mission.
Over the coming days and weeks, colleges and universities around the globe will begin their fall semester. For many students, it will be their first in-person experience in a while.
Chabad on Campus, with Chabad Houses on over 700 campuses around the world, is gearing up to meet the pent-up demand of these students.
For two days, the team of Chabad on Campus International moved from their office in Crown Heights to a scenic area in Long Island to take a step back and connect, develop skills, and focus on their core mission: To support the vibrancy and growth of Jewish student life on campus through the sustainability and success of Chabad Houses on campuses worldwide.
It couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. “As the pandemic wanes I”YH, and life is starting to return to some semblance of normalcy, we anticipate a tremendous surge of interest in Jewish activity,” said Rabbi Avi Weinstein, COO of Chabad on Campus International. “With restrictions in place for so long now, there is pent-up demand from students who are seeking in-person programming and connection. We are working very hard to be ready to offer an array of compelling resources to meet that demand.”
But nothing happens overnight. Ambitious goals of meeting a tsunami of interest takes daring coupled with strategic planning. Thankfully, the team at Chabad on Campus International has been mixing those two vital ingredients for some time now, and over the two days of working together, those efforts came into stark focus.
“For some time now, our JewishU initiative has been piloting in a number of campuses and has been met with an enthusiastic response,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International. “From the feedback we’ve received and the training we’ve given Shluchim, this coming year should I”YH see rapid growth. Spending time working on that together has gotten us excited, and we’re more than ready to see it balloon.”
In addition to the tens of resources, grants, tools, and programs that Chabad on Campus International always offers, the team took time to focus on some new strategic ideas in the works.
Arguably one of the biggest challenges for any Chabad House is properly tracking engagements and harvesting meaningful data to inform future growth. “I’m constantly asking myself questions like, ‘Did this person ever come before? When did that one come last? Who did I completely forget about? Which programs were more successful, and how much time does it really take me to prepare Shabbos or a weekly shiur?’” said Rabbi Zalman Teichtel of the University of Kansas, “To have a system that can track, organize, and properly report all those details can really maximize productivity.”
And so, Chabad on Campus is launching an “Engagement Portal,” a one-stop-shop online system that will marshal all that information together and provide each Shliach & Shlucha with data that they can use towards increasing their reach. The ultimate goal being, of course, to reach, inspire, engage and educate many more Jewish students.
“With all the Shluchim’s collective intense efforts to date, approximately 80% of Jewish students are still not Jewishly engaged on campus. We must do everything we can to come up with creative ways to reach every Jew,” said Mrs. Miri Gourarie of Chabad at Penn State University.
With the leadership of Shluchim and Shluchos on multiple committees, an Advisory Board of equally committed supporters, and a team eager to put in that legwork, that’s precisely the plan. And after two focused days together, the plan is already in high gear.