By Blair Donner
Chabad House at Rutgers was bustling this weekend, April 25 and 26, 2015, as prospective Rutgers students were invited for an overnight Shabbat experience. Over forty five high school attendees were present to learn more about the campus’ Jewish community as well as the opportunities that Rutgers has to offer. The students were invited to engage in activities, games, and enjoy delicious Shabbat meals. “We actually had far more guests than anticipated, since we closed registration a bit late,” Rabbi Shaya Shagalow, Educational Director of Chabad, commented, “But we were still able to host everyone who had signed up, in the Chabad House dorms.”
The prospective students themselves had come from a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds. Some had gone to public high schools, and some had gone to private Jewish day schools. Additionally, not only did interested students from New Jersey come to Chabad House, but also students from out of state as well. There were even some ambitious sophomore and junior students that attended the event alongside high school seniors. The overall diverse experience provided an opportunity for Jewish youth to mingle and become friends.
Current Chabad House at Rutgers students Elisheva Rosen and Steve Gotlib, ensured that the program ran smoothly and efficiently. Besides the enjoyable and classic ice breaker games, these leaders made sure that the student’s questions about Rutgers were answered. In the brand new library at Chabad, a panel discussion was held in which prospective students could ask current students any question pertaining to Rutgers. Chabad House Co-President Mitch Seigel, as well as Lucy Matout, Esther Esquenazi, and Aaron Bivas, answered inquiries ranging from the reliability of the bus system to what majors are offered to how dorming works. From the discussion, it seemed as if many of these prospective students were planning to live at Chabad if they were to choose Rutgers, rather than in an on-campus dormitory.
Later on, the high school students were given time to break up into individual groups with current Rutgers students and meet the on-campus Jewish community. “Personally, I sat with a group of young girls discussing the big choices concerning college. From the perspective of a mentor, it was very inspiring to see such intelligent and beautiful youth ready to take up the stage as part of the Rutgers community in the upcoming future.” Blair Donner commented, “We discussed everything from classes to friends to professors to extra-curricular activities. For them, it was a very real experience to talk to an actual student.”
“I really like what the Rutgers community has to offer,” one high school senior mentioned, “There are just so many options here to choose from.” Indeed, Rutgers does provide many choices for its students in many regards.
The following day, Shabbat morning, started off with optional morning services and Shabbat lunch. The prospective students were given liberty to explore Rutgers and see everything that the campus has to offer. Before the event concluded, an ice cream social was held at Chabad House to say goodbye. Overall, it seemed as if these potential new participants of the Rutgers campus had a great time. The Rutgers Chabad House hopes to see them again this upcoming fall semester.