Shabbat in a Box

Written by Simona Newman, Student

This month, I was fortunate enough to hold a Shabbat dinner for some close friends in residence. For some, the tradition was welcome; a reminder of the community we have built with our friends while we complete our studies away from home. For others, it was a wholly new experience. “I’m embarrassed to ask, but what is Shabbat?” one guest asked. “Why do we do it?” After a technical response on the history, symbolism, and significance, I noted that, above all, it’s about time together as a family, and, in our case, a makeshift family of friends from all over the world brought together by surprisingly accurate residence life questionnaires. We sat around the long dinning room table to do our prayers, which were greeted with pleasantly surprised faces. “That was so simple!” one friend exclaimed, “That’s it? We should do this more often.” said another. As we all settled down to eat, it quickly became apparent that this was one of the few times this year that all our friends could carve out time to be together. The dinner also served as a platform to educate friends on Judaism, something many had little or no exposure to, before coming to university. With spring arriving soon, we spent much of our dinner talking about Purim and Passover and the religious, historical, and cultural aspects of these holidays. I was thrilled to see how much everyone was enjoying themselves, and hope that this can become a tradition moving forward. Despite living in such close quarters, it can be difficult to get everyone to sit down for a meal, but finding the time to do so is essential and builds a stronger community and, in our case, a family of friends.