A version of this article first appeared on the OU-JLIC website.
As a Jewish college student, two of the more difficult things to find on campus are often Kosher food and Torah classes. Not anymore at UCLA. This past semester, OU-JLIC student president and staff writer for UCLA’s Jewish student magazine Ha’Am, Joey Levin, found a simple solution: Introducing Jew-Swipes.
Jew-Swipes is a feature on Ha’Am’s app that lists daily opportunities for kosher meals on campus. Meals on the university’s meal plan are called swipes so this app is like a free kosher meal plan for the Jewish community. Each opportunity is a “swipe,” and all swipes must be kosher and free.
“Over my time at UCLA I have become very reliant on getting food from Jewish events and wanted an easy way for myself and others to see all the opportunities for food in one centralized place,” Joey said about his motivation for launching Jew-Swipes.
In the app’s first semester, OU-JLIC lead the way as the organization most swiped, with about 13 swipes per week. Jew-Swipes is an optimal platform for OU-JLIC since it features many shabbat and holiday meals as well as many meals accompanied by shiurim, all important parts of OU-JLIC’s programing.
OU-JLIC works to advance the Torah education and commitment of Orthodox students at 23 secular universities, helping students observe key aspects of Jewish life, from tefilla and kashrut to Shabbat, and chagim. OU-JLIC’s Torah educators offer regular study sessions, organize guest speakers and events, and through shared meals, give students the opportunity to bond with them and ask educators for advice on practical, personal, and halachic issues of all kinds.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, OU-JLIC educator at UCLA – and along with his wife Sharon, OU-JLIC’s most senior educator couple – sees Jew-Swipes as an “optimal opportunity for Jewish students to get together for Jewish bonding and intellectual experience.” It gives Jewish students the opportunity to learn what is happening on campus in terms of where to find kosher food, camaraderie, and enhanced Torah opportunities.
How has Jew-Swipes been received? “When I tell students about the app, they are very enthusiastic to download it and learn what is going on in the Jewish community,” said Joey, “I know of people who check the app each day so they know how to plan their meals for the day.”
Asked about an increase at his programs since Jew-Swipes was launched, Rabbi Kaplan replied, “Definitely more people are coming to events and there is no doubt in my mind that this [Jew-Swipes] can only help.”
Ranked 23rd best American university by US News and number 12 on The Forward’s list of “Best Colleges For Orthodox Jews,” UCLA also receives a score of 91.18 out of 100 from Gesher OU-JLIC’s map of Jewish resources on college (designed by Rabbi Hart Levine, Director of Student Leadership Development for Yavneh on Campus and Founder of Heart to Heart), and this new app can only make UCLA a hotter destination for Orthodox students.
Will Jew-Swipe remain exclusive to UCLA or will it become a multi-campus trend? Only time will tell.