Q: I hope to visit Penn for a night or Shabbat, and would like to stay with a student from the OCP. How can I be set up with a host?
A: Email our lovely hospitality chairs, Adam Greene and Sophie Shapiro, with the date(s) you plan to visit, and they’ll take care of the rest!
Q: Where can I find Orthodox prayer services?
A: During the week (S-F), there are several daily minyanim. There is regularly Shacharit, early Mincha, Mincha-Maariv, and a late Maariv minyan. All weekday and Sunday minyanim are located on the 3rd floor of Hillel, in the Beit Midrash. The OCP hosts Shabbat services as well in Shotel-Dubin Auditorium on the 2nd floor of Hillel. Kabbalat Shabbat times can be found in each week’s OCP Announcements. Shabbat morning davening is at 9 am in Shotel-Dubin, followed by Kiddush in the Hillel lobby. For updates, please check the minyan page, updated regularly by the OCP gabbaim, and sign up for the minyan listserv on the homepage.
Q: What are the Kosher food options like at Penn?
A: Kosher dining is located in Falk Dining Commons, on the first floor of Hillel. Lunch and dinner are served every day except Sunday. Falk does not serve breakfast. Kosher packaged food is available in Houston Market, located on the lower level of Houston Hall. The Gourmet Grocer, located on the lower level of 1920 Commons, also sells many Kosher products, including Kosher deli and cheese. Both Houston and Commons take dining dollars, credit card, and cash. Most students also shop at the nearest supermarket, Fresh Grocer (AKA “FroGro”), located at the corner of 40th Street and Walnut Street. FroGro sells Kosher chicken and there is a small Kosher section, in addition to many packaged products located throughout the store. Be sure to get yourself a FroGro card the first time you go in!
Q: Will I have access to a kitchen on campus?
A: Most dorms feature shared hall kitchens, which are difficult to keep Kosher. Many students find it useful to have a mini fridge and/or microwave in their rooms. On the other hand, if you’re living in any of the high rise buildings (Rodin, Harnwell, and Harrison) you may have a room with a kitchen. Kitchens include a refrigerator/freezer, an oven/stovetop, and a sink. You will have to kasher the kitchen and bring any utensils/cookware/bakeware that you plan on using. There isn’t an easily accessible mikvah to tovel dishes on campus, but many students head to the nearby Schuykill River to take care of their toveling needs.
Q: How can I enter the dorms? Is the process different on Shabbat and holidays?
A: To get into dorms, you will need to swipe your PennCard and enter a 4-digit code. Visitors must bring their IDs and be signed in by a Penn student who lives in that building. However, for Shabbat and holidays, Penn Housing utilizes the Sabbath List. As long as you put yourself and any guests on the Sabbath List by Thursday at 11:59 PM (Prospective students: the Hospitality Committee will take care of this for you), you will be able to get into all dorms by stating your name and PennCard number— so be sure to memorize your number! Guests will need to state their cell phone number. New students should put themselves on the permanent Sabbath List. All dorms use old-fashioned keys, or have keys available, so you don’t need to worry about electronic key card access on Shabbat.
Q: Is there an eruv?
A: Yes! If you’d like to use an eruv, Penn is covered under the University City Eruv. A map of the eruv can be found here, if you’re interested in going exploring on Shabbat. The University City Eruv and the Center City Eruv have recently been connected via South Street. That is, if both eruvs are up, one can carry between University City and Center City by walking along the South Street Bridge. All other roads are not part of this connection. Emails are sent out weekly to listserv subscribers about the status of each eruv. Make sure to add yourself to the eruv listserv when you join the OCP listservs on the homepage. If you would like to be trained to help make sure our eruv is up and running on a weekly basis, please email Tzvi Merczynski-Hait.
Q: Does Penn accommodate students for the Jewish holidays?
A: Though classes do meet, should you be worried about Jewish holidays interfering with class work, Penn takes care of you. Make sure to contact all professors in the first 2 weeks of each semester with the dates you will miss for all of the holidays that semester.