18 Best Colleges For Jewish Life
By Aiden Pink
What do you need for Jewish life to thrive on campus?
Well, start with having lots of Jewish students — the fact that you need a minyan of ten people to properly pray shows how much Judaism values coming together. Add thriving Hillel and Chabad chapters to provide a wide variety of popular religious and cultural programs — or just a place to hang out. There should be lots of options for Jewish fraternities, sororities and extracurricular clubs. The community should be free of anti-Semitism, and should have lots of synagogue options (both for places to pray and to pick up Sunday school jobs). And of course, what kind of Jewish community could exist without kosher food?
In other words: When it comes to thriving Jewish life, we think you need all of the above.
The Forward College Guide weighed all of these factors and more to determine the Jewish Life score for our university rankings.
There are many, many schools that provide a positive Jewish experience for students. But here are the 18 schools that scored the best:
1) University of Pennsylvania — 37.33/40
2) Cornell University — 35.5/40
3) University of California, Los Angeles — 35.17/40
T-4) University of Michigan — 34/40
T-4) Tulane University — 34/40
6) New York University — 33.83/40
7) Emory University — 33.67/40
8) George Washington University — 33.17/40
9) Yeshiva University — 33/40
10) University of Maryland, College Park — 32.5/40
11) Brandeis University — 31.33/40
12) Queens College — 31/40
13) Tufts University — 30.83/40
T-14) Binghamton University — 30.5/40
T-14) Rutgers University — 30.5/40
16) Boston University — 30.33/40
17) Washington University in St. Louis — 30.17/40
18) American University — 29.67/40
The 23 Best Colleges For Orthodox Jews
As an Orthodox Jew who is a recent college graduate (and proud alumna of NYU), I know firsthand the challenges of being an observant Jew on a college campus. At many campuses, Shabbat, holidays and everyday meal planning can be a hassle — especially in universities far from a large Jewish community. Thankfully, I attended a university with an abundance of resources — delicious kosher food available on the meal plan, abundant Jewish programming on campus, an engaged and tight-knit Jewish student community, dedicated Hillel / Chabad / OU-JLIC professionals and plenty of synagogues nearby.
The schools on this list provide all of these things and more: our formula for Orthodox-friendly campuses is designed to ensure that all of the colleges on this list have kosher food on the meal plan, at least one Orthodox synagogue within 10 miles, abundant Jewish programming and an eruv surrounding their campus (a construct that allows Jewish residents to carry certain objects outside their own homes on Shabbat), allowing community members to observe Shabbat more easily. We adjusted our general formula to weigh these factors more heavily than others in our list, but of course, academic quality, affordability and Israel-friendliness are also important to Orthodox students and were taken into consideration as well: see “By The Numbers: The Forward’s College Guide Formula, Explained” for more information.
Your guide to the best colleges for Jewish students
Welcome to the Forward’s first-ever college guide. It was created and shaped by two young and valued members of our staff, Aiden Pink and Laura E. Adkins, whose own diplomas are as fresh as their memories. They spent months collecting data and crunching numbers, surveying campus professionals and speaking to students, parents and alumni, to create a comprehensive picture of what Jews take into consideration when they look for a college.
At a time when campus life is either pilloried or parodied, this guide drew from 10,000 points of data to paint a real picture of Jewish life at 171 colleges and universities across the country. Aiden and Laura created a formula to rank the schools, one that took into account nearly 50 variables because they understand that students have different Jewish concerns and priorities. Some want a vibrant Hillel and a kosher dining hall. Others look for a campus brimming with social activism. Or a great Frisbee team. Or all of the above.
It’s all here — along with solid information about academics, cost and other factors. There are fun facts from each campus, some surprising rankings, and dozens of firsthand accounts by Jewish professionals and students.
We consider this guide a work in progress, and intend to update it every year — with your help. Send along your comments and suggestions to [email protected]. And join me in thanking Aiden, Laura and the editors who helped them turn a crazy idea into a compelling window into American higher education through a Jewish lens.
Guide to the best colleges for Jewish students, click here: http://forward.com/jewish-college-guide/