Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus


The OU Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) is a program of the Orthodox Union in partnership with Hillel. In recognition that the overwhelming majority of Modern Orthodox college students are being educated at secular universities, the OU administers 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, JLIC provides avenues for spiritual development and exploration for Jewish students from varied backgrounds; JLIC presents a positive, sophisticated and welcoming face for Orthodox Judaism on campus. The JLIC program at Cornell is funded jointly by Cornell Hillel, CJL, and CJL-F.

 

Meet the Couple

Sarah Jaffe Kasdan was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, where she attended Fuchs Mizrachi School. She spent a year after high school studying in the Old City of Jerusalem at Midreshet Harova. Sarah graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education. While there, she served as a Girl Scout troop leader, in addition to holding numerous leadership positions in Hillel and the Brandeis Orthodox Organization (most notably Gabbai Shlishi and Sunday Night Learning Coordinator).

Sarah has gotten her feet wet in a variety of Jewish education roles, having served as a counselor at Camp Stone, Hebrew school teacher, intern for the Genesis High School Program, and kollel member at the Young Israel of Scarsdale. Sarah worked for two years as a 4th grade teacher at Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, NJ. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education from Bank Street College of Education. Sarah and her husband, Daniel, served as the OU-JLIC Fellows at Yale University where they enjoyed teaching shiurim and learning one-on-one with student chavrutot.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys doing Zumba, watching Gilmore Girls, baking, and hosting big shabbos meals! She can be contacted at sbk92@cornell.edu.

Hailing from the other side of Teaneck, NJ, Rabbi Daniel Kasdan is a passionate Jewish educator who has worked with all age groups. After graduating from The Frisch School, he spent a year studying at Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Rabbi Kasdan then attended Brandeis University, majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and minoring in Creative Writing. While there, he was an active member of the campus Hillel: he served on the board of the Brandeis Orthodox Organization for two years, co-chaired and staffed the Hillel first-year retreat, acted as a student kashrut supervisor on Shabbat, shared words of Torah in between daily afternoon and evening prayer services, and led multiple weekly study sessions in the Beit Midrash. Rabbi Kasdan also served as student intern for OU-JLIC at Brandeis during his senior year, a precursor of what was to come. Just weeks after graduating, he returned to Brandeis to staff Genesis, a pluralistic educational program for Jewish high school students.

He then spent four years studying for rabbinical ordination at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) in New York. During that time, Rabbi Kasdan spent two summers in the Boca Raton Synagogue summer kollel and two winters in the Young Israel of Scarsdale Kehillat Beit Midrash, studying with Jews of various ages and backgrounds. In his final year at RIETS, he taught a weekly parsha class to prospective converts. In addition to his rabbinical studies, he is pursuing a master’s in Medieval Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

Now to the fun stuff. In his free time, Rabbi Kasdan enjoys reading (especially thriller novels and Jewish history books), eating Chickies sandwiches, and finding inspiration in classic movies. He is a regular contributor to the James Bond fan forums online, and was featured on CBS News for his lightsaber duel in AMC Empire 25 on opening night of Star Wars Episode VII. If the opportunity arises, Rabbi Kasdan can remove a splinter from most people without them even noticing, a skill he perfected in Camp Moshava’s infirmary. He aspires to visit each of the United States, and loves shmoozing with new people. He can be contacted at rabbi@cornellcjl.com or dgk65@cornell.edu.