In March, Yachad, the Jewish Education Program for teens in Minneapolis, hosted the event “Preparing U” as a way to educate high school students and their parents how to be proactive in light of the many of the anti-Israel events and incidents that were happening on college campuses. It was so successful that Yachad, a program of Minneapolis Jewish Federation, is turning it into a series that will span this school year. The series kicks off on Nov. 1 with “Best Colleges For Jewish Students,” featuring Aiden Pink, an editor of The Forward.
Pink was the co-creator of The Forward College Guide, which gives data that helps students looking to find more about Jewish life on campuses. The guide has already received more than 200,000 page views since launching in mid-August.
“We were expecting 100,000 (page views) by the end of the calendar year,” Pink said. “It’s gone far beyond our expectations. It’s a testament to families looking for the environment that’s best for them.”
Yachad Executive Director Dana Prottas said that the big takeaway from last winter’s event was that people are looking for more information.
“People want to help their teens better prepare for Jewish life in college,” Prottas said. ” This program was the tip of the iceberg of seeing the need.”
The initial Preparing U event was put on in part because of the anti-Israel, boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) protests that were taking place on many campuses, including the University of Minnesota.
“People want to know where it’s safe to be Jewish on campus and which campuses have a robust Jewish life,” Prottas said. “People are taking that more seriously.”
Pink said they are planning to include more schools in next year’s second edition.
“We received e-mails from alumni from small schools that we didn’t know had Jewish students,” Pink said.
Pink said the guide was created in part for his younger brothers.
“My brother Ronen is a freshman at the University of Miami – and he loves it – but it’s tough to tell what Jewish life is like even after touring the school or going to the websites,” he said. “More information is always better.”
The Nov. 1 event will be split into three parts: Pink will introduce the guide, give a general lay-of-the-land about what it’s like to be a Jewish college student, and then a question-and-answer session.
“What students are looking for both Jewishly and generally differs greatly,” Pink said. “No two Jews are the same or have the same priorities.”
Separate from the Prep U series, of which the events are free, Nov. 8 will start Yachad’s Prep U Seminar for high school juniors and seniors. The 10-week seminar meets from 7:50-9:00 p.m. and registration is $300 for non-Yachad registered teens, or free for current Yachad students. Prottas said the topics include: Anti-Israel & Anti-Semitism on Campuses; Jewish organizations on campus; Application & essay assistance; Consent, drugs, alcohol, etc.; and more.