By Cassidie StevensFor Mitzpeh@CassidieStevens

Chabad hosted a roasted marshmallows and s’mores event for Lag B’omer on April 29. They are hoping to host more events this summer. Photo courtesy of the Chabad Facebook page.

Students at this university are excited for summer break, but things might look a little different this year because of COVID-19. Students and organizations alike are altering their plans to have fun this summer safely.

Chabad at UMD, led by Rabbi Eli Backman, is not sure how to move forward with summer plans.

“For the last 20 plus summers we’ve hosted meals, services on Shabbat and other times. We’ve had barbecues, other social events, sometimes learning opportunities,” said Backman. “We really try to cater to who’s around.”

Chabad is waiting not only to see who is still on campus to plan their summer activities, but also to see how things are playing out with the pandemic.

“Obviously last summer was very different and we had services outside, we’re not able to host meals, etc. I’m waiting to really see this summer, as I said depending on who’s here and what’s going on,” said Backman.

Like Chabad and other student organizations on campus, students are also planning for a hopefully normal summer, following last year’s quarantine experience.

Aaron Reznik, a senior public relations and communications major, plans to return to his tennis academy, which he helped start in the midst of COVID-19.

“I started a tennis academy last year called First Serve Tennis, so once I graduate, I’m going to start things back up with my partner this June,” said Reznik. “We teach lessons, run clinics and hold tournaments for kids and adults of all levels.”

While many businesses were shut down because of the pandemic, Reznik’s academy grew and flourished, complying with all CDC guidelines and safety measures.

“COVID was honestly the reason our academy grew so quickly last summer since when we started it, basically every other camp and academy was closed,” said Reznik. “Through basically word of mouth we were able to form a community of hundreds of kids and adults that has continued to today.”

Other Jewish students are also trying to move forward from the pandemic by working hard or just relaxing. Kendall Elliott, a junior government and politics major, plans on splitting her time between College Park and Brooklyn.

“I’m going to stay in Brooklyn for about four weeks, then I will come back to Maryland around the last week of June, so I can be here for Fourth of July,” said Elliott. “I want to just stay here from then through the rest of the summer so I can work.”

Jayne Tenenbaum, a junior government and politics major, is also switching between her hometown and College Park. She will be bouncing back between College Park and her home in New Jersey, and she plans to intern at a nonprofit organization.

“Besides just relaxing, I am going to be working as an intern at a nonprofit organization,” said Tenenbaum. “I am currently deciding between two so I am not sure which one I will be at, but I am excited nonetheless.”

Even with the challenges brought on by COVID-19, students and organizations on campus are trying to return to normal again and hoping for the best for this upcoming summer break.


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