Ben Jacobson came to Clark University for his first semester prepared to lead his own Shabbat service from his dorm room to follow COVID-19 regulations. He expected this would make it harder to meet people.
He had been keeping Shabbat for about two years and had been wearing a kippah for four or five. Jacobson brought the prayer books, candles and other necessities to his room.
“I’m very self-sufficient,” Jacobson said. “I’m able to get done everything I want to get done.”
And then he got an email from Clark Hillel, which made things easier.
“Though we cannot all gather, sing and laugh together in person for our Shabbat dinners, we are pleased to provide meals and virtual programming for everyone in our community,” the email stated.
On Friday, Aug. 28, students picked up their Shabbat meals from the University Center. Each meal included roasted chicken or tofu, potatoes, green beans, grape juice and a small challah.
“I’m really glad we’re still able to provide meals to students through Hillel,” Clark Hillel president Alex Sklarz ’22 said. “It’s very special that even when we cannot all sit together for dinner, we can still ring in Shabbat together as a community.”
“We are continuing the tradition but with modifications to keep everyone healthy and safe during these COVID-19 days,” said Jeff Narod, Clark Hillel executive director. “We are so grateful to be able to provide individually packaged and freshly made Shabbat dinners in a box. Hillel is about building Jewish community on campus and helping students to connect with their Judaism.”
Normally, Shabbat dinners at Clark come to about 100 students celebrating together. They attend a prayer service, followed by the rituals of kiddush, motzi and lighting the candles. Students typically enjoy a meal cooked in-house at Clark by the Kosher Kitchen. All is organized and led by Hillel students.