Jewish group at Penn stops giving stipends to participate in program

An independent Jewish organization at the University of Pennsylvania has stopped offering students a stipend to participate in one of its programs after parents objected to the practice.

Since 2004, Meor has offered a $400 stipend for students to participate in its Maimonides Leaders Fellowship program.

More than 850 students have completed the one-semester program, which involves weekly seminars mixing lecture and discussion with Jewish leaders and educators. The concerned parents found the stipend “suspicious,” according the campus student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Only students who completed the program received the stipend, and they were free to use it at their discretion. Meor’s executive director, Rabbi Shmuel Lynn, said the students were encouraged to use the money for charitable causes and that the program does not foist an agenda on participants.

“We want to help students engage with Judaism in a vibrant and intelligent way. What they do with the information is their own prerogative,” Lynn said.

Other religious organizations also offer stipends for students who complete certain programs. Chabad offers a $350 stipend for students who participate in its Sinai Scholars program. — jta