by Hanna Golden
Over 350 students attended a very special Shabbat Experience Weekend coinciding with Rutgers University’s Homecoming Weekend. As the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Team returned homed last weekend from competing on the road, “Rutgers Chabad” had their own homecoming celebration, with throngs of new students attending and experiencing a traditional Shabbat dinner for the first time in their lives. “Everyone was stunned to see so many new people show up to Shabbat at Chabad. If Shabbat is all about celebrating your Jewish identity, then this past Shabbat was really a homecoming in the truest sense,” remarked Albert Cohen, Student Treasurer of Chabad House, “and even though there were hundreds of students and new faces this Shabbat, it felt like a family dinner at home!”
Matching the weekly Torah portions detailing the travels of Judaism’s founding couple, Avraham and Sarah, across the middle east on their way to the Promised Land, Chabad’s Campus Director Rabbi Baruch Goodman, together with Rutgers students Avery Katz, Ian Shulman and Brittany Liebes, built a “replica” of Avraham and Sarah’s tent right in the middle of the dining room for all to enter. Decorated with hanging grapes, foliage, coconut instruments, and cocktail tables laden with candies, chocolates, passion fruit platters and pastries, students took their turns entering the tent with openings on all four sides and hanging out with friends, enjoying the treats and each other’s company.
Chabad’s Student President Brittany Liebes addressed the huge crowd saying, “Avraham and Sarah dedicated themselves selflessly to build a tent in the desert to welcome in and serve travelers and those in need. Chabad serves the same purpose of being an oasis here at Rutgers creating an environment for Jewish unity, community service and celebration of our Jewish identity and values. I would like to thank all of you who get involved in our outreach programs, leadership, and services to those less fortunate in our area – you are today’s Avrahams and Sarahs!”