Jeff Seidel

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Jeff Seidel
Jeffrey Seidel

1957 (age 61–62)
Chicago, Illinois
OccupationJewish outreach
Years active1982–present
OrganizationJewish Student Information Center
Notable work
The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide

Jeffrey Seidel (born 1957)[1] is a kiruv (Orthodox Jewish outreach) personality in Jerusalem, Israel. Since 1982, he has introduced thousands of Jewish college students to their first Shabbat experience and offered free tours and classes through his Jewish Student Information Centers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and Herzliya. He also compiled The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide, which lists Shabbat placement programs around the world.


Jeff Seidel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in 1975.[1] He decided to leave school in the middle of studying for his doctorate in psychology to move to Israel[1] in 1981.[2] He married Penina Greene, daughter of scientist, academic, and Chabad baal teshuva Professor Velvl Greene.[3] She is an oncology nurse at the Hadassah Medical Center on Mount Scopus.[4] They live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

In December 2014 Seidel's car was attacked by more than one dozen Arab youths as he drove two friends to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. His car sustained 4,000 shekels ($1,000) worth of damage, but he was uninjured. One of his passengers was treated for a scratched cornea caused by splintered glass.[5][6]

Outreach career[edit]

Concurrent with the rise of the baal teshuva movement in Israel in the 1970s, a small number of Orthodox outreach workers began frequenting the Western Wall and inviting English-speaking, college-age students and travelers to experience a Shabbat meal with a host family or to join a free tour of Jewish sites in the Old City. These outreach workers included Rabbi Meir Schuster, Baruch Levine, and, beginning in 1982, Jeff Seidel.[1][4][7] By the mid-1990s, Seidel was placing about 250 young people for Shabbat meals with host families in Jerusalem each week during the summer.[1] He also led walking tours of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and escorted interested students to baal teshuva yeshivas so they could see traditional Jewish learning in action.[1]

Seidel founded the Jewish Student Information Center in Jerusalem's Old City in 1986.[8] The Center offered free walking tours in the Jewish Quarter, archaeological tours, and religious and holiday classes.[1][9] Seidel also compiled The Jewish Traveler's Resource Guide, which lists similar Shabbat placement programs around the world.[1] According to Kaplan, this guide became "one of the most effective ways of recruiting potential baalei teshuva".[10]

Seidel established a second Jewish Student Information Center near the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1992, providing Shabbat meal placement, laundry and email services, lectures, and a wide-screen television for students. He opened a center near Tel Aviv University in 1994, and subsequently opened centers at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.[8]

The Jeff Seidel Jewish Student Information Center offers $400 scholarships toward airfare for former Birthright participants and Hillel alumni who wish to study in Israel.[11] He also runs an online Worldwide Passover Hospitality project which pairs up students and young tourists with host families around the world for the Passover Seder,[2] and arranges meals for 200 to 300 travelers in Israel and around the world between Rosh Hashana and Sukkot.[12]

As of 2017, Seidel publishes a weekly op-ed on the Israeli-based news website The Times of Israel.[13] His topics include Jewish continuity, Jewish outreach, current events, and anti-Semitism on college campuses.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Winer, Todd (9 February 1996). "'Hunter' at Kotel Seeks Shabbat Dinner Guests". Chicago Jewish News. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b Unger, Leah (11 April 2014). "Everybody's b'Seder". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015. HighBeam subscription
  3. ^ "Professor Velvel Greene, 83, OBM". COLLive. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b Pensak, Margie (27 December 2014). "BJL Exclusive: Jeff Seidel and Yohanan Danziger Miraculously Escape Jerusalem Arab Stoning Unharmed". Baltimore Jewish Life. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  5. ^ Dvorin, Tova (24 December 2014). "'Police Didn't Help' After Cinder Block Attack in Jerusalem". Israel National News. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  6. ^ Eisenbud, Daniel K. (28 December 2014). "Jews en route to Mount of Olives funeral attacked by Arab youths". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  7. ^ Rossoff, Dovid (2001). Where Heaven Touches Earth: Jewish Life in Jerusalem from Medieval Times to the Present (Revised ed.). Feldheim Publishers. p. 537. ISBN 0873068793.
  8. ^ a b "About Us". Jeff Seidel's Jewish Student Centers. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  9. ^ Thomas, Amelia (2010). Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Lonely Planet. p. 94. ISBN 1742203515.
  10. ^ Kaplan, Dana Evan (2013). Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal. Columbia University Press. p. 321. ISBN 0231510411.
  11. ^ "Other Israel Experience Scholarship Resources". Jewish United Fund. 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  12. ^ Kresh, Miriam (24 September 2014). "On your own and hungry". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015. HighBeam subscription
  13. ^ "The Blogs: Jeff Seidel". The Times of Israel. 2017.

External links[edit]