By Moshe Sofer
Over 4,000 college students attended this year’s Rutgers Involvement Fair showcasing the university’s over 600 student groups and organizations, the largest contingency of student groups at any one college in the country. And the Chabad House Jewish Student Center at Rutgers was chosen to kickoff the massive, outdoor event with a lively introduction and sounding of the Shofar.
Brittany Liebes, an accounting major in her senior year and Student President of Chabad House, was appointed to be the lead-off speaker welcoming the thousands of new students to the university and inviting the first year students to Chabad’s wide variety of educational, cultural, charitable, community service, and social welfare programs held throughout the school year. “Chabad is here to make a difference in the lives of all people in and around the university, and all students are invited to participate and enjoy our many programs,” Brittany said. “And to begin today’s involvement fair, I’d like to introduce our campus leader, Rabbi Baruch Goodman, to say a few words and sound the Shofar, a ram’s horn, which is traditionally blown, not only on Rosh Hashanah itself, but also during the month leading up to the beginning of the Jewish New Year, to wake ourselves up to change for the better and start the year off on a high note!”
Rabbi Baruch Goodman, Chabad’s Campus Activities Director, welcomed everyone to Rutgers, and spoke of the importance of recognizing that although we all may look different, and have varying cultures, beliefs, nationalities, etc., in truth, we are all kids of G-d. And there’s no greater gift that we can give to G-d in this new year than to be unified and loving and caring towards each other. For when there is unity, G-d is happy and blesses His world with peace and good fortune. May the sounding of the Shofar inspire us to wake up and feel how lucky we are to be here, and how much we should be there for each other, no matter the color of your skin or your country of origin, or any other shallow difference – we are all one!” After sounding the Shofar, Rabbi Goodman blessed everyone for a year of success and blessing – l’shana tova – happy, healthy, successful and sweet new year, with peace and blessings, with the coming of Moshiach now!”
Chabad’s Executive Student Staff, including CEO Meir Brodsky, and Vice-President Marli Dinovitzer, together with President Brittany Liebes, manned (and wo-manned) their contact table and met 200 new, incoming first year and transfer students, giving them gifts and signing them up to be members of the Chabad’s close-knit Jewish community.
Prior to the involvement fair, Rabbi Goodman’s sons Rabbi Yosef, Mendy, Sruli, Eliyahu and Schneur Zalman, as well as his grandson, Mendel, organized and led a lively, outdoor farbrengen gathering on Saturday night in preparation for the pre-Rosh Hashanah Selichot prayer. Hundreds of student passers by stopped by the unusual outdoor experience on Rutgers’ College Avenue, and were treated to snacks, giveaways, drinks, and a musical performance. One incoming freshman commented, “Last thing I thought I’d see when I came to Rutgers were a group of crazy rabbis on the street wishing everybody a shana tova and getting an apple with honey on College Avenue! Rutgers is awesome!”