By James Whitlow
Under the Cornerstone Grill and Loft’s sparse, harsh lights, the bar top was shiny and unusually clean at the Jewish Student Union’s semesterly bar night.
“This place will be packed,” Samuel Fishman, senior government and politics major and president of the JSU called over the music. He was right.
By 9:50 p.m. on this particular Monday evening, well over 80 people had flooded the bar, scuffing the disinfected tile floor and chatting over each other. All manner of students poured through the doors: tall, short, Jewish, non-Jewish, even a girl on a crutch.
Everybody appeared happy – and not only because of the discounted liquor. Nobody stood apart; all were conversing and looking to be legitimately enjoying themselves.
This, Fishman said, is what makes the JSU’s bar night stand apart from a typical night at one of the three bars along Baltimore Avenue’s main drag.
“It is one of our best opportunities to bring Jews from all across the spectrum together under one roof,” Fishman said. “We get a little bit of everybody in terms of the religious sects of Judaism.”
And though the Cornerstone loft has no ceiling, its “roof” covers all. Fishman said the event was open to the entire campus community.
“It is a great opportunity for people to meet each other [and] learn from each other’s perspectives, you know,” he said. “It is always for everybody.”
Last semester’s event was bigger – between 150 and 200 by Fishman’s account – but nobody had any problems meeting new people Monday, or catching up with friends.
“It is such a warm environment,” Fishman said “If you are looking for some kind of Jewish connection, in any kind of way, this is the place to come.”
Michael “Mikey” Greenblatt, a sophomore theatre and communications double major, seconded Fishman.
“I would say this is a nice mix” he said, scanning the room. “I love meeting new people.”
The new faces at the bar were this semester’s biggest changes from bar nights past. The event is always hosted at the Cornerstone loft and always hosted on a weeknight, but the new people keep the affair fresh each semester.
“There are always new people coming in each semester, so it is always nice to get them involved,” Fishman said.
Daniela Nagar, a junior government and politics major, said the bar night is great for connecting with the community.
“If you are Jewish … and want to meet new people, this is a great way to do that,” she said.
By half-past ten, the room was humid and a few degrees higher than at the start – more resembling a College Park bar experience – but the event was still unique. Even as the night wore on, nobody looked bored or had to shout to be heard over the music.
The two bartenders on duty slammed drinks down at a quick clip well into the night. And while the staff interchanged tonic water and club soda, it didn’t deter students from the main goal of the night: socialization.
As the night wound down, patrons began to depart, shaking hands and saying goodbye, leaving behind a very sticky bar top, but taking potential new friendships with them.