By Laima Barber
Chicken Soup. Warmth. Family. Home.
These words share a common language that is synonymous with Chabad on Campus. Now a new word is about to join them, jLearn.
As universities begin the winter semester, the Chabad on Campus International Foundation announced the continued expansion of a program designed to make learning an even more central part of a student’s Chabad on Campus experience.
Dubbed “jLearn”, this Torah learning initiative is not just about giving another class at a Chabad House; it is about a culture shift in the student’s commitment to Jewish knowledge.
Providing a variety of classes, based on student’s interest, over a 5 week period, jLearn requires a student’s commitment in advance to participate. While Shabbat dinners are free of charge, a fee is a prerequisite to participate in jLearn. Although no one is turned down due to lack of funds, the cost elicits a sense of investment and commitment by the student.
There are also special events and activities geared for jLearn participants, forming this learning experience into a social community.
Uniting these students is a genuine interest in taking the next step in their Jewish experience by going to the sources. Having tasted the experiential Judaism at Chabad Shabbat dinners, they are left wanting more.
Launched a little over a year ago on 6 campuses, it has already seen tremendous success growing considerably to 21 schools across North America.
“The objective of this initiative is to take Torah learning on college campuses to a whole new level,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, Executive Vice President of Chabad on Campus international Foundation.
“The students get to study a subject that interests them as they join a community of like-minded students who are serious about expanding their Jewish knowledge.”
While every Chabad House on campus offers multiple classes each week on various topics, not including the many one-on-one Chavrusah that a Shliach and Shlucha have, those who have piloted with jLearn are marveling at its ability to attract more students to Torah learning and retain their participation.
The program is currently coordinated by Rabbi Yossi Witkes in consultation with a committee of shluchim, including Rabbi Peretz Chein, Brandeis University, Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin, Tulane University and Rabbi Asher Yaras, University of Rochester.
For more info, visit www.jLearn.org