By Fatemeh Paryavi
As the sun set Friday night, indicating the beginning of yet another Shabbat for the Jewish community at this university, students who are taking part in this year’s National Hillel Basketball Tournament gathered from across the country to celebrate Shabbat dinner at the Stamp Student Union.
Hillel members from universities across the U.S.—Kansas, Chicago, Florida, New York and Michigan—gathered to celebrate the tournament, as well as to see friends they hadn’t seen in a year.
Although the event has previously been held at the Reckord Armory, organizers decided to host it in a bigger location this year. Leeron Carmi, a junior architecture major at this university and board member of NHBT, said that the goal of the dinner was to give students the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, so more than 500 people in the old space would have been too crowded.
Carmi mentioned that one way to address the board’s goal was to make the dinner available in three separate rooms on the same floor, so that members could go from room to room should they choose to. Stamp gave the NHBT directors the space to make that happen.
“One of our goals is to bring old friends together and make new ones,”she added.
Josh Kornblum, a student at the University of Michigan and a member of the men’s Hillel team, said it was nice to see people from the past, and that he agreed with Carmi on the fact that “it’d be a great opportunity to meet people.”
Kornblum also mentioned that having won twice in the tournament Friday, he was “hoping to cause some damage” before the final round of tournaments on Sunday.
Sam Cohen, a student at Yeshiva University in New York, said he came to the dinner because he “wanted to spend some time” with friends from Yeshiva and wanted to reconnect with others he met in previous years.
There were other members of the community who attended the dinner as well. Lexi Kubrick, a student at this university, said she attended the dinner as a volunteer after helping organize the event and that she was excited for the games that start Saturday night.
“I think it’s a really good way like [to] meet a lot of people from Hillel; like from all over the globe,” said Kubrick of the annual event. “Like before, I was at the basketball tournament and there were students from a bunch of different universities that were like all coming together to play at the tournament.”
“I think tonight is the hallmark of the event,” said Carmi of the dinner in respect to the tournament as a whole, “because whether you like basketball or don’t like basketball, everyone likes food,” and that the dinner was a great way to bring people of the same faith and culture together.