By Carly Taylor
For the Mitzpeh

A recent Shabbat dinner hosted by Maryland Hillel was no ordinary sit-down meal. Instead of just simply enjoying their dinner, students stood on chairs, cheering on their hometowns and mocking others.

About 160 students gathered Friday, Dec. 3 for the second senior-led dinner of the fall semester. Seniors Tamar Brown, Eitan Kahn and Ezra Shoen hosted this Hometown Throwdown themed event for an interactive night meant to determine which hometown is the best.

“We wanted to shake it up at Hillel and make it the place to be on Friday nights,” said event organizer Sarah-Leah Thompson, a sophomore studio art major. “We looked to these seniors to bring in a diverse group of people on campus to attend.”

As an event host, family science major Tamar Brown was unable to promote her Midwestern hometown of Detroit, Michigan. She was, however, happy to be a featured member at the function, as she has been involved with Hillel since the beginning of her freshman year at UMD.

“I’m glad I was chosen so I could give back to the community,” Brown said.

Brown, Kahn and Shoen kicked off the night uniting students, who were divided by region, through blessings over the wine and the challah.

Students faced off in events like apple bobbing and knockout basketball to defend their respective origins. Other events planned for the night included a “Kiddush flip cup,” an egg and spoon relay race and a reindeer ring toss, during which participants were challenged to aim rings at the reindeer horns.

UMD students participated in the apple bobbing challenge at the Hometown Throwdown. Carly Taylor/Mitzpeh.
UMD students participated in the apple bobbing challenge at the Hometown Throwdown. Carly Taylor/Mitzpeh.

Senior Jacob Magid said he was disappointed after finding out that he had mistakenly assigned himself to sit in the mid-Atlantic region, as he attended the event to represent his hometown in Illinois.

Magid still played for the Midwest in the apple-bobbing event, one of the most popular activities of the evening among attendees.

“I found it more difficult than I thought it would be but I still really enjoyed the bobbing,” the Arabic and government and politics double major said.

Keenan Sobol, a senior biology major, also really enjoyed the apple-bobbing competition. Even though he did not win the activity, he said he was happy to be there to support his three close friends who hosted the event, he said.

“It was a really great opportunity to support my friends and support my city at the same time,” Sobol said.

While Margo Bernhaut, a junior communications major, attends Shabbat dinner every Friday, she was eager to connect with other people who were from New Jersey, where she grew up.

“Celebrating Shabbat is such an amazing opportunity,” Bernahut said. “You’re [obligated] to have uncomfortable encounters that you might not ordinarily have because you are forced to put away your phone.”

While the hosts did not declare an official winner, New York native Aviva Mazureck was the self-described champion of the night.

“Everyone got involved and [that] made it so much fun,” the senior chemistry major said. “It was a hometown throwdown, but it really united everyone.”


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