With the summer of 2015 drawing to a close and the school year beginning, Chabad at Rutgers also has kicked off the new semester – this time with a giant party. Held on Tuesday September 1, 2015, the same day that Rutgers classes reopened, Chabad House hosted a major evening celebration. Over five hundred students showed up. The latest Israeli music could be heard proudly playing over the excited chatter of reunions. Fresh food that included meats, fruits, salads, and pastries piled on the tables and the plates of guests. There was humus, chicken, and pita – perfect for making the traditional Shawarma. Outside of the main dining hall, students flooded the corridors. Groups of friends could be witnessed outside the dining hall participating in ping pong and pool matches, lounging on the entrance stairs chatting, and even relaxing in the library. In the upstairs lounge Chabad members could also be found bonding over a movie. Clearly, Chabad had a full house, but the atmosphere felt like a true home.
Besides seeing old friends, a lot of new faces were at this major event as well. Freshman have already begun to discover the home they have at Chabad as nearly “x number” of new students have decided to dorm at Chabad. Additionally, visitors – both Jewish and not – came to visit and learn more about what Chabad at Rutgers has to offer. As Rabbi Baruch Goodman announced to the crowd, “We’re very excited for what this year has to bring!”
Amidst the tables of acquaintances chatting and at the entrance gate, were special booths for a program associated with Chabad called Birthright Israel. This features a ten day trip to Israel completely free of charge and offered to all students. The trip is an opportunity to give Jewish people from all backgrounds a common ground and understanding of Israel. Many of the Chabad members have already been on this adventure, and always come back with great reviews. Some go as far to say it was a “life changing” experience.
Beyond Birthright Israel, Chabad plans on offering an array of activities as usual. All of the Jewish holidays, which are coming up with astounding speed, such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, and more will all be celebrated. Weekly events will continue as well. The Jon Shevell Chabad Learning Initiative program on Monday night continues to grow, offering a $300 stipend to every participating student. Weekly Tuesday socialization parties will be held, Wednesdays is the famed Sushi and Soul night, Thursday Challah bakings are planned for, and Shabbat observances will take place as always. Additionally, daily prayer services, volunteer events, and community service activities that include visits to the local hospital and senior centers will continue as usual.
It’s sad to wish away the summer, especially since the memories of vacation days are still fresh in our heads, our skin is still tanned, and chlorine is perhaps still in our ears. However, there is a lot to look forward to as well. Chabad is looking forward to creating an environment to make this year overflowing with opportunities of Jewish learning, service, and fun.
For more information visit us on the web at chabadrutgers.com, chabadnj.org, or call 732-296-1800