Shabbat 200: Jewish food, song, education, traditions

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Collegian | Charlie Cohen

Barnaby Atwood, Staff reporter

Different Jewish organizations on campus came together with Associated Students of Colorado State University and the Lory Student Center to host Colorado State University’s 15th annual Shabbat dinner.

Shabbat starts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday every week and is a day for those who partake to relax and celebrate different Jewish traditions and values.

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“Its about family; it’s about community; it’s about unity, and how do you go wrong when that’s coupled with good food and humor?” Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik said. “It’s celebrating some beautiful traditions of what Shabbat represents, which is the idea of no matter how chaotic one person’s life can be, there always is that need to find that inner core or epicenter of peace and serenity.”

“We want Jewish people to feel a sense of home. They often feel like a minority, especially in these days with the surge in antisemitism.” -Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, faculty advisor for the Chabad Jewish Student Organization at CSU

Ella Smith brought their non-Shabbat-going friends to come and share their traditions. They had been to CSU Chabad’s Shabbat but never had attended the Shabbat 200.

“It’s fun to see all these people from different groups,” Smith said. “Those who are Jewish, those who are (non-Jewish) — it’s cool to see us all coming together and chitchat.”

Gorelik is the faculty advisor for the Chabad Jewish Student Organization at CSU.

“We want Jewish people to feel a sense of home,” Gorelik said. “They often feel like a minority, especially in these days with the surge in antisemitism.”

Shayna Ross is a CSU Chabad board member, and while she had attended the Chabad Shabbat before, she had never attended Shabbat 200.

“(I) just sat with everyone who I did not know, and I’ve learned so much about them and their lives,” Ross said. “I feel like it’s really enjoyable, and it kind of reminds you this is a community, and we’re here for each other.”

On top of providing a space for Jewish students and community members, the Shabbat 200 dinner also acts as an educational event for anyone interested in attending. Shabbat 200 is meant to be more of an educational and social event rather than a strictly religious one.

Guests of all backgrounds were welcome to come, and informational pamphlets were given to each guest. The pamphlets detailed what Shabbat is and its importance in Jewish culture, as well as the songs that would be sung and the food that would be served.

“Some people may be dissuaded from joining because they, for example, aren’t Jewish, so they don’t necessarily feel comfortable attending a Jewish event,” said Chaia Geltser, president of Chabad at CSU. “We really want people to feel welcomed and included, especially our non-Jewish faculty and peers because we really want to build those connections between Jewish and non-Jewish people in Fort Collins and at CSU.”

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The organization hosts Jewish celebrations, provides Jewish education and provides a space for Jewish students, but CSU Chabad also makes connections to the wider Jewish community outside the university.

CSU Chabad helped plan and coordinate the Shabbat 200 along with several other Jewish organization on campus, such as the Jewish sorority Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi and fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, as well as Hillel and Students for Holocaust Awareness.

The 200 in Shabbat 200 comes from the average amount of guest that attend every year, but that number is slowly growing.

Interim president of CSU, Rick Miranda, and the vice president for inclusive excellence, Kauline Cipriani, also came as this year’s guests of honor.

“It’s one of the hallmarks of having a residential campus,” Miranda said. “We come to Fort Collins, we live together, we work together, we play together and we learn together. The together part is important for all four of those things, and there’s nothing that brings people together than a meal.”

“Especially in today’s times where unfortunately the Jewish community get into the news for less than nice things, it’s nice to highlight and give our more important side which doesn’t get noted as much,” Gorelik said. “We hope it sends a message to all minority groups. (Shabbat is) an opportunity to raise diversity and raise cultural awareness at the same time, and we want people to come. We showcase Jewish traditions and Jewish cuisine to see that ultimately, we can celebrate together.”

Reach Barnaby Atwood at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @Barnaby_Atwood