By Sara Goodwin
The Maryland Hillel hosted its eighth annual Shabbat Across Maryland (SHABAM) dinner Friday.
Shabbat is a weekly day of rest for Jewish people that starts Friday at sundown and ends Saturday at sundown. A Shabbat dinner is how many people celebrate the day, said Rabbi Jessica Lott, Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning at the Hillel.
Lott said that the Hillel hosts SHABAM in November because by this time, “A lot of people have already made a lot of connections with other people…networks and friend groups have started to gel by the time we get to November.” The event is sponsored by the Gorlin Family Foundation, which gives the Hillel an annual gift in order to host SHABAM
This year, approximately 1,600 students attended a dinner at 80 different locations, Lott said.
Chelsea Harris, a senior majoring in hearing and speech sciences, hosted a SHABAM dinner in order to get the Greek community more involved in the event. “I really enjoyed celebrating Shabbat with my big and teaching the Jewish tradition to my little and other friends,” she said.
The Hillel provided both kosher and kosher style dinners, depending on the host’s preference. Lott explained that kosher means it is certified kosher and has been prepared in a kitchen that’s kosher. On the other hand, kosher style does not guarantee that the food comes from a supervised place but they’re not going to serve something that’s explicitly not kosher, Lott said.
The Hillel also provided every meal with candles, challah bread, a traditional Jewish food, and grape juice instead of wine, since not everyone that attended the dinner was of age to drink. The blessing for the meal is over the challah, Lott said.
“We provide grape juice and challah so that everyone can have those same Shabbat rituals all together,” Lott said.
“My favorite part was probably the prayers and cutting up the challah. Everyone loved the challah and I got to show my ability to say the prayers,” Harris said.
Starrla Donavanik and James Taylor are both not Jewish and attended SHABAM dinners.
Donavanik, a junior majoring in kinesiology, attended a dinner because she is taking a Jewish studies class, she said. She agreed with Chelsea, that her favorite part of the meal was the challah.
Taylor, a junior majoring in finance, attended the dinner cohosted by Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and Sigma Delta Tau sorority to try the free food, he said. Taylor said his favorite part of the dinner was “taking a night to relax” without electronics.
Mitch Naveh, a Jewish freshman majoring in biology, said he enjoyed how “open and inviting” his dinner was and that he would attend another SHABAM dinner in the future.