SHABBAM unites students around friends, creative themes

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SHABBAM, or Shabbat Across Maryland, gives students across campus the opportunity to host their own themed Shabbat dinners with food catered by Maryland Hillel. Clara Longo de Freitas/Mitzpeh.

By Clara Longo de Freitas
For Mitzpeh
@Mitzpeh

Students all over this university hosted Shabbat dinners, reaching over 1,000 students in more than 100 locations across campus on Friday, September 19, said Maryland Hillel. The meals had a wide variety of themes, including Hippie Shabbat, an “Area 51 raid” dinner, an IHOP dinner and many others.

To host a meal, students registered on the Maryland Hillel website. They had to choose a name for their meal, specify the theme, location, how many people they were expecting and whether they were willing to host students they didn’t know. 

Anyone could attend a SHABBAM dinner by RSVPing on the Maryland Hillel website. They could either choose which dinner they wanted to attend or be matched with random hosts. 

“SHABBAM is one night of the semester when every person on campus has a place to go for Shabbat dinner,” according to the website.

Hosts could also choose whether they would cook or have the food provided by Hillel dining hall, thanks to sponsorship from the Gorlin Family Foundation Shabbat Across Maryland.

Sophomore journalism major Leigh Menendez attended the Shabbat meal hosted by her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. Last spring, she attended a Shabbat meal at Hillel. Menendez and her sorority had Potomac Pizza and Insomnia cookies, as well as challah and grape juice, at their meal. Before eating, they prayed and lit candles.

“I think the candles interested me [the most] because we do a similar thing when I go to church on Christmas Eve,” Menendez said. “So it reminded me of that.”

Alejandro Valdes, a junior neurobiology and physiology major, went to the Hippie Shabbat meal. He learned of the dinner through his friends who were involved with the Maryland Co-Op.

“[We were there from] 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., but people hung out afterwards too,” Valdes said.

Valdes and his friends dressed in hippie attire, including colorful headbands and harem pants. There were tapestries decorating the walls and art supplies for painting. The meal featured students playing instruments, while others sang along to classic hippie tunes.

The dinner had 30 to 40 guests, according to Valdes, and the food was from Krazi Kebob, an Indian-Pakistani-Mexican fusion restaurant in College Park. Keeping with the Hippie theme, the food was vegetarian, with falafel burritos and veggie samosas.

“It was really fun … [and] peaceful,” Valdes said. “It was awesome having dinner with all these people since I was at climate strike in DC earlier that day with a lot of them. [They are all] passionate individuals who care about social change and making the world a better place.”

Students who did not RSVP to go to a specific SHABBAM meal were still able to attend dinner in the Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Hillel Center dining hall. Shabbat services started at 7 p.m., and the Friday night dinner followed at 8:30 p.m.

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