What is OU-JLIC?
The university environment is a marketplace of ideas and experiences that can pose both challenges and opportunities to an Orthodox Jew’s observance and commitment. In recognition that the overwhelming majority of Modern Orthodox college students are being educated at secular universities, the OU, in partnership with Hillel, administers the Orthodox Union Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC), a program that helps Orthodox students navigate the college environment, and balance their Jewish commitments with their desire to engage the secular world. In addition, OU-JLIC provides avenues for spiritual development and exploration for Jewish students from varied backgrounds; OU-JLIC presents a positive, sophisticated and welcoming face for Orthodox Judaism on campus. OU-JLIC places Orthodox Rabbinic couples to serve as Torah educators within the Hillels on local college campuses.
Now on over twenty campuses, our OU-JLIC educators strive to enhance the learning opportunities available to students, and also to bolster an infrastructure for Orthodox life to flourish. The educators offer weekly Shiurim and classes, bring guest speakers and events to campus, and make key Orthodox necessities, such as Kashrut, Chagim and Shabbat, easier to observe and more meaningful.However, instead of taking only a generalized approach, OU- JLIC families strive also for a more individualized touch. Students grace their Shabbat tables as regular guests, interact with them in informal settings, such as the cafeteria, and learn with them B’Chavruta. The regular ongoing availability of the families creates a comfort level that enables students to confide in them and seek advice for their more serious issues, whether of a Halachic, personal, or intellectual nature.
Educators are considered full members of the Hillel staff, and they interact with a large number of students both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. Hillels are often thankful for the presence of OU-JLIC, not in the least because it enables them to better serve the Orthodox populations on campus, but also because it bolsters their ability to offer educational/spiritual services to all of the Jewish students. While the primary impetus of OU- JLIC has been to serve the Orthodox, rather than Kiruv in a classic sense, we have found that the educators have had a substantive and positive impact on a broader population as well.
Johns Hopkins University OU-JLIC Couple
Rabbi David Eckstein completed his graduate studies for Rabbinic Ordination at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and a Master of Public Administration at Baruch College, where his Capstone focused on the topic of Birthright Madrichim. Prior to that, he received a B.S. in Accounting from Yeshiva University.
Rabbi Eckstein previously served as the Director, Community Engagement at the Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE) in New York City. In this role he focused on creating opportunities for Birthright alumni through MJE events, while building partnerships with other organizations in the city. Rabbi Eckstein has served as a Presidential Fellow for Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. He has served as a Rabbinic intern at Anshe Shalom B’nai Israel Congregation of Chicago, Illinois, a development intern at the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY and a summer intern at the Israeli Ministry of Welfare and Social Services.
Jenny Eckstein was born and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She attended Midreshet Moriah seminary in Israel and subsequently attended Stern College where she majored in speech language pathology and audiology. Jenny received her Masters degree in speech language pathology from CW Post.
Jenny has most recently worked at the Shield Institute, a clinic that facilitates communication for adults with developmental disabilities. Additionally, Jenny has also continued her work with the special needs population as she served as a speech language pathologist at an IRA in the Bronx where she assists communication among group home residents in their home environments. She is an active volunteer with many Jewish organizations including Camp HASC, Keren Or, Manhattan Jewish Experience and the Gift of Life.
Rabbi David, Jenny and their daughter Leora are thrilled to be a part of the Hopkins community.