By: Angel Gingras
On Sep. 7, Kedma hosted a virtual Zumba event to bring the community together and support a local charity.
As the fall semester kicks off, classes are not the only thing to move online since the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations around campus are working to get staff and students engaged in the new virtual world by hosting activities and events through Zoom, and Kedma is no exclusion.
Founded in 1997, Kedma has served the Jewish community at this University, hosting religious learning programs, facilitating prayer services and building community through a variety of social events. Their board includes different chair positions to host these events, and their Facebook page, UMDKedma, has been crucial in communicating with fellow members during the pandemic. Sophomore marketing major Shana Lowenstein is in her second semester as community service chair for the organization and ran the Zumba event.
“As community service chair, I plan events that gear towards charity,” she said. “[This event’s] funds are going towards Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington which is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to patients facing medical challenges in the area.”
Monday night’s Zumba class was Kedma’s kickoff event for the fall semester. The 45-minute function hosted nine participants, including Lowenstein and her mom Mandi, a certified Zumba instructor who led the class. Altogether, the event raised $140 for Bikur Cholim, half of which was matched by an anonymous tip at the end of the night.
Senior Dalia Planer, a kinesiology major and president of Kedma and attended the recent event. When asked how she enjoyed it, she responded, “I love Zumba in general… despite being virtual, we were still able to come together and have fun.”
This event isn’t Lowenstein’s first since being elected community service chair earlier this year. In the spring, she hosted a variety of events, including arts and crafts with Yachad members to celebrate Purim, and her first Zumba event, which raised money for the charity Chai Lifeline, a non-profit that provides creative programs and services to sick children and their families.
During the pandemic, Lowenstein also held a virtual steps challenge, in place of what was originally supposed to be a 5k. All community service events hosted by Kedma donate 100% of their profits to a local charity.
The pandemic has put a damper on many of the fall plans on campus, especially since more than half of this university’s population decided not to return to campus initially. The adjustment to all-virtual learning and activities can make it difficult to engage an audience through a computer screen, so many organizations are working extra hard to give students a fun and interesting experience.
“It is a challenge to host many of our events online,” Lowenstein said. “Last semester I planned for many in-person events…I had to rethink and fit them into the Zoom platform. Zumba was a pretty easy transition though.”