By Jon Orbach
For the Mitzpeh
Students struggled to find seats on Friday, Feb. 3, as Maryland Hillel marked the upcoming big game in style, with a full house on its Super Bowl-themed dinner.
With ambiguous, SGA-funded decorations — hanging football swirls and banners, football field-themed tablecloth and even a couple of football-shaped blimps — the building was noticeably festive upon entry.
Hillel offered an array of options reminiscent of tailgates— burgers, two types of wings, mini hot dogs, chili and cookies — that elicited a few excited remarks.
Kedma Shabbat Chair Sarah-Leah Thompson, who organized the event, said her plan was to shake things up at Hillel.
“We’ve never had a Super Bowl-related event like this before,” Thompson said. “I wanted to get people excited for Hillel food.”
Journalism major Kyle Melnick said he was impressed.
“I definitely liked the food better today than I usually do,” Melnick said. “I like stereotypical American food, like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, so that definitely made the meal pretty good today.”
The junior, who recently returned from a Birthright trip, is by no means a regular at Hillel, but said after Friday night he wants to come back.
While Melnick didn’t know about the Super Bowl theme until he arrived, that wasn’t the case for everyone.
“On Friday nights, I decide between MEOR, Chabad and Hillel, and tonight I chose Hillel because of the Super Bowl thing,” freshman psychology major Ateret Frank said. “Usually I would probably go to MEOR or Chabad because they have better food.”
Overall, Frank said she was impressed with the night.
“They did a good job with the decorations and everything. The food was good—the food was much better than it usually is on a Friday night,” Frank said.
Attendees weren’t only from this university. Aviva Michaeli, a senior at Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School in Riverdale, New York, spent her first night at Hillel.
Visiting for the weekend, Michaeli said she will return home with a favorable impression of Maryland Hillel and its Super Bowl-themed night.
“I thought the decorations were really good,” Michaeli said. “I also feel like the food kind of reinforced the theme because it was all very fast-foody, and I don’t know if it would’ve been that way if it were a regular Shabbat meal.”
All in all, Thompson considered the packed night a success.
“Some people even turned apartment invites down [to stay at Hillel] due to the hype,” Thompson said.
She said she plans to organize two or three more special Shabbat dinners, including a masquerade-themed night for Purim.