From sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday marks the Jewish holy day of rest, the Sabbath also known as Shabbat. Each Friday evening, Chabad at CSU holds a festive meal to celebrate Shabbat. Students come together in prayer and enjoy a traditional Jewish kosher meal. Once a year, Chabad takes the habitual Friday evening celebration and amplifies it to extend its reach to both Jewish and non-Jewish students and staff.
This year marked CSU’s ninth annual Shabbat 200 dinner. Over the past nine years, Shabbat 200 has doubled its size. The event was first called Shabbat 100, then Shabbat 150, and is now referred to as Shabbat 200. The number refers to the average number of attendees. Similar Shabbat dinner events take place at college campuses and synagogues across the country, as well as internationally.
“We are essentially showcasing Jewish tradition and Jewish cuisine, and what is great about it is that it is done in a very fun and meaningful way as well,” said Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, who is also a professor at CSU.
The annual event held by Chabad works to reach out to both Jews and non-Jews alike. It focuses on creating awareness and sharing Jewish culture, customs and religion.
“I think the biggest role Chabad plays at CSU is bringing cultural diversity to campus and an awareness of Judaism,” said Marie Handl, CSU Chabad Student Organization president.
Participants in this free event listened to prayers and traditional songs and experienced the customary pre-meal hand washing. The extensive four-course shabbat meal was a treat for both the eyes and the body. The meal was prepared in a koshered section of the LSC kitchen under the supervision of Gorelik.
Preparation for the meal required 100 pounds of chicken and 10 pounds of rice. 400 challah rolls were produced as well as six large trays of sweet pumpkin kugel, the famous matzah ball soup, gefilte fish and rugelach, which are various crescent pastries. Multiple salads and dips also accompanied the meal.
“It was definitely an eye-opening experience to witness their different customs,” said CSU student Julia Matteucci. “I’d be interested in exploring more about Judaism and other religions.”
Each year, a guest speaker is brought to the event.
“We try to find (a guest speaker) who can really present the message that we are trying to send at the University, that even if you are a minority, embracing your identity can only make you stronger,” Gorelik said.
This year, the keynote speaker was Lt. Col. David Rosner, a Jewish marine officer, a national security expert, a stand-up comedian and an inspirational speaker. Rosner grew up in Alberqurque, New Mexico, and did not seriously connect to his faith until he was 23. Rosner is currently in the reserves with the U.S. Marines and when he is not deployed, he travels internationally and speaks to servicemen and women, students, veterans and in Jewish communities.
In his presentation, Rosner combined humor and his religious beliefs to talk about his experiences in the military. He emphasized the importance of being authentic and responsible for thoughts, words and actions.
He talked about joining the marines and still maintaining his religious beliefs. He said he has found success communicating in advance about taking time off for Jewish holidays.
“Everyone seems to be pretty respectful,” Rosner said.
The Chabad Student Organization was sponsored by the LSC, ASCSU, the LSC Diversity Grant and Coca-Cola to make this high-cost event a reality.
For more information about the Chabad Jewish Student Organization at CSU, visit Jewishcsu.com or their Facebook page, Chabad@CSU.
Collegian Reporter Nicole Towne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.