For the second straight year Shabbat 1500 surpassed its goal, drawing 1,635 students to the Events Center for dinner on Friday night.
Hosted by the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life, Shabbat 1500 offers a large-scale take on Chabad’s weekly dinner.
“It’s the Shabbat of Chabad on steroids,” said Rivkah Slonim, the education director of Chabad.
The event was co-sponsored by Hillel-JSU and several other groups on campus.
“Shabbat 1500 is a great event where the entire Jewish community can come together to celebrate,” said Andrew Topal, the student president of Hillel. “It’s also a great way to share the beauty and magic of Shabbat to a wider audience than we usually do.”
Topal talked about the importance of Shabbat dinners.
“Shabbat is a special time where we try to block out distractions and all our stresses in life and focus on what’s really important — family, friends and community,” said Topal, a junior-double majoring in political science and economics.
Slonim said a lot of hard work goes into this event to ensure a positive and inspiring Jewish experience for everyone who attends.
“Every Friday night is very, very important, but the fact remains that a large number of Jewish students are still not engaged in a Friday night dinner on a weekly basis, so this is one Friday night a year where we take out all the stops,” she said. “I don’t have enough words to praise all the committees and volunteers that put time into this.”
The event was initially dubbed Shabbat 1000 in 1994, but renamed Shabbat 1500 in 2008 when Chabad surpassed their goal, and the attendance seemed to be rising each year. Typically, 300 to 400 students attend Shabbat dinners at Chabad.
The evening featured an all-male a cappella performance of Hebrew prayers, along with other classics like “Lean on Me,” as well as a presentation honoring Jewish astronaut Elon Ramon, who passed away in the 2003 Columbia spaceship tragedy.
Students said that the event provided the special experience of celebrating Shabbat with a large number of friends, peers and fellow Jews.
“I came to celebrate the Shabbos with my friends and spend the night with 1,800 other people,” said Cara Tanenbaum, a junior majoring in human development.
Slonim said that students at the Chabad Center cooked all week in preparation, putting out over 120 pounds of cold cuts, 100 pounds of chicken, 200 loaves of challah, 120 pounds of pasta, 150 pounds of pasta salad and 140 pounds of lettuce.
The dinner menu included kugel, potato and pasta salads, chicken and turkey, with cookies, brownies and pastries for dessert.
“Oy vey, is this food great,” said Jordan Levine, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering.
Adam Nackman, a sophomore majoring in psychology, supported the notion that good food yields good times.
“The only thing better than the food was the smiles,” he said.