Just six years old and predicting a 15,000-strong student body by 2025, California State University Channel Islands launched a kosher dining option for a Jewish student population that grows every year.
Arranged by Rabbi Ariel and Miriam Rav-Noy, co-directors of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at the Camarillo, Calif., university, the project – which echoes similar efforts at universities nationwide – will see kosher food available daily at the central cafeteria. Selections, which will be delivered from an outside provider three times each week, will include tuna sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, vegetable salads, pasta salads and lasagna.
Students raved about the new options at a free tasting event last week.
"Kosher food on campus!" exclaimed freshman Jessica Randall. "This is so exciting."
Miriam Rav-Noy explained that the Jewish center pursued the kosher dining option with students' spiritual lives in mind.
"Keeping kosher is a mitzvah, a divine commandment," she said. "We eat kosher because G‑d commanded us to, and by fulfilling the Divine Will, we connect to G‑d."
"Holiness is not confined to holy places and times," added her husband. "Life in its totality is a sacred endeavor. Even the seemingly mundane activity of eating is a G‑dly act."
Chef Michael Winters encouraged non-Jewish students to partake of the cuisine. When asked if the kosher food was for everyone, he replied: "Of course! Haven't you all eaten New York kosher pickles? The best pickles around."
CSUCI's decision comes on the heels of a new kosher dining plan launched in January at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life coordinated with the administration to offer kosher meals daily. Last month, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik koshered a kitchen at the University of Colorado for a grand Shabbat meal for 100 students.
Student Andrew Persin said the move was a smart one for CSUCI.
"I felt it was a big step for our university," he said. "I told the owner of the café that the food was tasty and that they should keep it coming."