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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Frisch Director of Mentoring and Academic Advisement Ira Miller has been appointed chair of a new high school committee under the auspices of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC). According to the OU-JLIC website, the program “was created to help young men and women thrive in a campus environment and helps Jewish students observe key aspects of Jewish life, such as tefillah, kashrut, Shabbat, and chagim.” OU-JLIC programs currently on 23 university campuses across North America, with OU-JLIC educators “learning with students one-on-one, coordinating weekly classes and organizing guest lectures and other events.”

The new high school committee will serve as a direct link between Jewish high schools and OU-JLIC educators on their respective campuses, explained Miller, who formerly served as chairman of the OU-JLIC Advisory Board. “They serve really as surrogate families [for college students],” he said of the campus OU-JLIC staff. Miller noted that the services and “comforts of home” provided by the OU-JLIC fills a unique need on campus for religious students, who are choosing to attend more and more different colleges than ever before, including some which did not used to have a significant Jewish—or certainly Orthodox Jewish—presence.

The OU-JLIC’s high school committee will include nine school principals from across the country. Together, they will work on strategies for easing Jewish day school graduates into the campus environment and trying to ensure that these students have access to as much religious support as possible. “This effort is part of the OU’s broader effort to foster partnerships and conversations with day school leadership,” said National OU-JLIC Director Rabbi Ilan Haber.

“If we have OU-JLIC educators working together with high school teachers, we can create something that’s focused on preparing students for their freshman year on campus,” explained Miller. For example, offering classes to high school students on possible things to expect on campus—including everything from unforeseen halachic issues to anti-Israel sentiment. In addition, the establishment of the committee will open up a line of communication between graduating high school students and OU-JLIC educators, so incoming college freshmen can establish a rapport with OU-JLIC couples before even setting foot on university soil, and perhaps even before applying to or selecting a college.