A Jewish Student Organization (JSO) can be found at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campus.The JSO is a student club, supported by Campus Ministry, which celebrates the cultural and religious traditions of the Jewish community.
Riverdale Temple (www.riverdaletemple.org)
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Campus Ministry, email@example.com
JSO Rose Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus Ministry, email@example.com
Jewish Life at Fordham:
Fordham’s Hillel Faculty Advisor
answers some Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who are you? What is your Jewish background?
I have been a professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at Fordham College at Lincoln Center since 2003. Here is my faculty web site. I attended an Orthodox yeshiva from kindergarten through 8th grade. I taught at the Yale Hillel Hebrew School when I was in college. My family and I are active members of Larchmont Temple, where I occasionally lead the Chevre Torah discussions.
2) What does it mean for Fordham to be a Jesuit School?
The Jesuits are an order of Catholic priests who have been passionate innovators in education for 500 years. Jesuit education stresses education of the whole person and a focus on training students to articulate questions well and to answer them eloquently. Fordham is proud of its Jesuit tradition and is privileged to have a number of Jesuits on our faculty. Our small class sizes, our core curriculum with its focus on the arts and sciences, and our strong advising system all reflect core Jesuit educational values.
3) OK. But what does it mean in terms of religion? It’s a Catholic school, right?
Fordham is a Catholic school, but it is very diverse. Fordham welcomes students of all faiths and traditions: all Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists… No one tries to convert students to Christianity here. I don’t mean just that it isn’t school policy—I’ve never seen anyone working for the University proselytize. There are no crucifixes or other religious symbols in the classrooms. There is no required chapel of any kind. In fact, Campus Ministries has offered to find space and help provide funding for Jewish students on campus to start a Jewish prayer group. We haven’t, but only because of lack of interest from the students, not from any lack of institutional support.
In my experience, Fordham manifests its religious identity most tellingly in the great respect that religion is accorded here. Other institutions I’ve been associated with have tolerated religion. Fordham places enormous value on religion (not just Christian religions—all religious perspectives) and that makes an enormous difference. Students take theology classes as part of their core curriculum. This requirement can be fulfilled with classes in Torah or Buddhist texts, but the expectation is that students will engage seriously with the important texts and thinkers of at least one religious tradition in order to graduate.
4) Are there many Jewish students? is there a strong Jewish presence at Fordham?
Fordham is a relatively small college, and the undergraduate Jewish community is rather small. We don’t know how accurate this estimate is (we don’t ask students a lot of questions about their religious background), but probably Fordham College at Lincoln Center is approximately 5% Jewish. Fordham College at Rose Hill has more students, but probably a somewhat smaller Jewish percentage. The law school (also at Lincoln Center) has a much larger (and generally more religiously energized) Jewish population, and they have a Jewish Students Association as well. To view their webpage, click here. Fordham University has many Jewish faculty, and a number of us participate in Jewish texts study groups and/or advise Jewish student groups, such as the Jewish Students Organization (JSO) whose contact info is on this page.
5) Are there Jewish services available during the holidays? What about kosher meals?
Due to lack of demand, Fordham does not offer its own Jewish services on campus, but a number of options are available in our local community Temples and Synagogues. You can see a list of these on the Campus Ministries web site here . We do not offer kosher food in the undergraduate dining hall, though the law school does sell kosher sandwiches and there are many kosher dining options in Manhattan.
6) What are the Jewish Students Organization and Hillel like at Fordham?
The JSO is a student-run organization that has been running for many years. Depending on the students running the JSO and coming to its events, its focus varies from year to year. Some years, it is more cultural, others there is more of an emphasis on the holidays and spirituality. Most years, the JSO emphasis is on social events.
Fordham has been affiliated with Hillel for several years. This gives our students access to internships and travel opportunities. Hillel also offers programming for religious, cultural, or political events, and affiliating with Hillel has given us the opportunity to apply for grants for special events. For example, one year we received Hillel funding for a series of events focused on different Jewish prayer traditions.
7) Is Fordham a good place for Jewish students?
If you are interested in a place that deeply respects different faith traditions, that encourages you to explore spirituality, and that has a small Jewish community that offers you the opportunity to participate in and shape Jewish life, then Fordham could be the perfect place for you.
by: Jason Z. Morris, PH.D., assistant professor of biology