Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus has more Jewish students than any other public college in America, according to new rankings by a Jewish campus life foundation.
According to the July 7 NJ.com article written by Adam Clark of NJ Advance Media, Rutgers, with about 6,400 Jewish students, is atop the list of 60 most popular public schools for Jewish students. The University of Central Florida is second with 6,000. The lists were generated from data that is self-reported by universities throughout the country.
Felicia McGinty, Rutgers’ vice chancellor for student affairs, said she didn’t know Rutgers led the country’s public schools in Jewish students until the rankings were released.
“It made my day,” McGinty said. “We really do work hard to tout our diversity and to be a place, a university community, where everyone feels valued and accepted.”
Rutgers University is home to Chabad House Jewish Student Center, which provides a daily kosher meal plan serving 3 hot meals a day in its new, state of the art International Kosher Cafeteria, two luxurious dormitories for both college men and women, two welcoming college student synagogues, one for Ashkenazic and one for Sephardic students, and an Israeli Bistro called JCafé (Jerusalem Café).
Chabad House at Rutgers is the largest student center on any college campus internationally, and also provides free trips to Israel via Mayanot Birthright Israel and a stipend Jewish discovery Torah program called the Jon Shevell Memorial Learning Initiative at Rutgers for students to learn more about their heritage while away at college.
Rutgers also provides both a major and minor in Jewish studies, as well as a study abroad program in Israel. A new Hillel building is under construction as well. According to the report compiled by Hillel International, about 19 percent of undergraduates at Rutgers are Jewish.
The school does not specifically recruit Jewish students, McGinty said. “I think it’s just reputation — that we have had a history of having strong relationships with the Jewish community,” she said.
According to the Chabad House Executive Director, Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, “thirty-six years ago, we had a dream, and took the bold initiative to pioneer and build a full-service Jewish student center here at Rutgers with a kosher meal program, Israeli Café and dormitory for college men and woman, and the resultant Jewish attendance, awareness and involvement on campus have been blossoming exponentially ever since – a dream come true.”