Orthodox Life at The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana

There is a small, but vital and intimate Orthodox student community. This close-knit community takes of intimate size ensures that all Orthodox students are involved in community functions and that nobody “slips through the cracks.  Students are encouraged to take leadership positions within the Jewish community and get involved and in ways that are personally meaningful to him or her and share their passion with others. Illinois is a great place for someone looking have an active role in the Jewish Community and ‘make a difference’ in Jewish life on campus.

Illini Hillel

JLIC at the University of Illinois works within Illini Hillel and is integrated into the Hillel staff.  Hillel is by far the largest Jewish organization and serves Jewish students across the religious and political spectrum.  There are Reform Conservative and Orthodox services at Hillel including a community/student Orthodox minyan that has met at Hillel for the last 50 years.  Illini Hillel is currently housed in its new, state of the art home, the Margie K. and Louis N. Cohen “Center for Jewish Life” at 503 E. John St. in Champaign. Phone: 217-344-1328. Website: www.illinihillel.org

Other Jewish Organizations in Urbana Champaign:

Champaign Urbana Jewish Federation: 503 E. John Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Phone: 217-367-9872. Website: https://www.cujf.org/

JET (Jewish Education Team): 809 Main St. Urbana. Phone: 773-574-2056. Website: http://www.jetcampus.com/

Chabad – 509 S Fourth St. in Champaign. Phone: 217-355-8672. Website: https://www.jewishillini.org/

University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign Program in Jewish Culture and Society. Phone: 217-333-7978. Website: http://www.jewishculture.uiuc.edu

There is a brand new beautiful new Mikvah. For more details- https://www.facebook.com/CuMikvahAssociation


Shabbat at U of I includes all the essentials and then some!. OU-JLIC and Hillel, and Chabad both host  Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning minyanim followed by meals. Rabbi Schachter gives a short drashah during Shacharit, and a halachah shiur after kiddush. Students are also encouraged to share  divrei Torah at Minyanim and at meals..The Schachter’s also host students in their home for Shabbat Dinner providing a more intimate family setting..There are often onegs at Hillel Chabad or a student’s apartment. The various Jewish Organizations often work together, and “Shabbos hopping” is a regular occurance.  This collaboration gives U of I a strong feeling of united community. Shabbat afternoons, ORthodox students tend to stick together at HIllel playing board games and pool, socializing, and learning together. Third meal and Shabbat afternoon Minchah are held all to getherat Chabad followed by a community Havdallah. There is an Eruv, so in nice weather picnicking on the quad is common as well as enjoying U of I’s stunning arboritum.

There is an Eruv around most of Champaign-Urbana. For more information see: https://www.facebook.com/ChampaignUrbanaEruv/

Kosher Dining

The Cohen Center for Jewish Life has CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council) certified kosher Meat and Dairy kitchens. We offer a variety of opportunities for kosher meals and dining!

  • Kosher  Hot lunches a la carte at Cafe Sababa
  • Kosher Dinner Buffet
  • Free breakfast following Shacharit Sunday-Friday
  • Free Dinner after Maariv
  • Free Shabbat Dinner
  • Free Saturday Kiddush, Lunch & Seudah Shlishit (Third Meal)
  • Sunday Bagel Brunch
  • “So this is a text? Dinner and discussion on Tuesday Nights
  • OU-JLIC “Maimondays” Lunch & Learn on Monday afternoons
  • “Exploring Israel” serves fresh hot kosher pizza Friday at Lunch time!
  • All Hillel Programming with food will always have a kosher option!

Shabbat meal times at Hillel:
Friday night dinner: 7:00 PM
Shabbat Lunch: 12:30pm
Seudah Shelishit: About 20 minutes before sunset
If you’re in town during school breaks and need a Shabbos meal, please contact us at rabbi@illinihillel.org.

Allen Hall
Allen Hall offers kosher meals under the supervision of Chabad’s Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel. Open Monday-Thursday from 4:45-6:15pm for hot dinner served cafeteria style. You can use your i-card for meal credits or pay at the front desk. For more information please see: http://www.housing.illinois.edu/Current/Dining/

6-Pack Late Night
‘Late Night’ at the 6-Pack sells a variety of food including many kosher products including:
• Deli style sliced meat: Turkey Pastrami & Smoked Turkey Breast
• Hot Dog packs
• Microwave Dinners
• Ramen Noodle Soup
• Personal Sized Parve Pizza
• Ice Cream Bars
• Sodas and drinks
For more information please visit:  http://www.housing.illinois.edu/Current/Dining/

Packaged Goods
Most groceries in CU carry a wide variety of kosher canned, bottled, boxed, and frozen foods. The best selections are at Schnucks, Meijer, and the County Markets on Springfield and on Kirby. Other County Market locations, Target, and Walmart also carry many specialty kosher products, but the selection is not as extensive. A large number of kosher specialty items (e.g. chocolate, olives, hummus, etc.) are available at World Harvest and some are also found at the natural food stores Strawberry Fields and Common Ground, both in Urbana.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are available at all local groceries except Aldi’s. Besides the supermarkets and natural food stores, both Urbana and Champaign host farmers markets that sell delicious locally grown fruits and vegetables. The market on North First Street in Champaign is open Thursday afternoons from June to September, and the one at Country Fair Shopping Center in Champaign is open Wednesday mornings from June to October.

Limited selections of specialty kosher cheese are found at Schnucks (Urbana and Champaign locations only), Meijer (North Prospect location only), County Market (Springfield location only), and Common Ground. Items can be tricky to find and staff does not always know what is in stock, so be sure to check deli and specialty cooler sections as well as dairy cases. Because each store carries different items, it is possible to buy a wider variety of cheeses than you would imagine from visiting only one store. Stock at any particular store also changes over time, making it difficult to predict what will be available during any given trip to the store. Consult the kosher section of the Chicago Rabbinical Council website, www.crcweb.org, for an extensive list of approved hechshers.

Frozen kosher poultry is available at Schnucks (Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy) and Old Tyme Meat and Deli. Frozen, kosher beef stew cubes and ground meat are found at Schnucks (Champaign locationonly) and Old Tyme Meat and Deli (ask at the counter, since it may be in the back room freezer, not on display). County Market on Sprimngfield sells frozen poultry, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Deli.

The best local selections of kosher wine are at Binny’s, Friar Tuck’s, and Piccadilly on in Champaign. Choices now include fine kosher wines from Israel, France, Australia, South America, and the United States. Grocery stores and other Piccadilly locations do not carry kosher wine or have a very limited selection (usually Manichewitz).

Ice Cream
Coldstone Creamery on Green St. is certified Kosher under the OV of St. Louis.  Baskin Robbins is located at Neil and Green, although the store itself is not kosher, many of the ice cream flavors are KVH certified Kosher. Be sure to check the labels.
For guidelines about consuming Coffee and other Beverages, please see http://www.crcweb.org/listsandlinks.php

Housing at U of I

Incoming Freshmen are required to live in certified Campus housing.  Students can room with whomever they choose, and we work to group Orthodox students together, either in pairs or groups. Single rooms are also available.   Upperclassmen Orthodox Students live in both university housing and private apartments around campus. There are a number of “Kosher apartments” maintained near campus.  Nearly all of Chamapign-Urbana is inside the Eruv