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Shabbat Dinner: Open to All Students

The Hillel Student Organization is holding a Shabbat dinner for the student body that will take place at the Rathskeller on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. Students of all beliefs are able to attend the Shabbat to experience a traditional Jewish dinner. Shabbat dinners are usually done every Friday, but the group has decided to make it once a month so all students can attend.

Lianna Kendig, a junior English major and is not a Jewish student, is excited that Hillel is having a Shabbat dinner for all students to experience.

“I think it’s great UT hosts events on campus and doesn’t turn anyone down due to religion, race and orientation,” Kendig said. “UT prides itself on the diversity of the campus, so it’s nice to see them actually believing what they say they do.”

Hillel Student Organization is a relatively new group for Jewish students on campus. Jewish members are able to seek counseling for their religion and the organization provides cultural and religious services. The organization was established five years ago for the 2014-2015 year.

Erica Stein, a sophomore business major, practices Judaism and explains how great Hillel is for making Shabbat dinners available to students.

“I think it’s nice that Hillel has Shabbat dinners because we aren’t able to be home with our families,” Stein said. “So it’s nice to be around and celebrate with other people and friends who have the same beliefs.” 

Shabbat dinners start off with three blessings that  consist of blessing over wine, blessing over the lighting of two candles and blessing over the Challah. Challah is a traditional meal that Jewish families eat during Shabbat. Its a type of bread made with egg and braided to symbolize the three traditional Shabbat meals. Shabbat dinners are usually known as family events but at UT, students will be able to celebrate it with their friends. 

Josh Dinner, the new director for Hillel, elaborated on the events and services the organization had to offer.

“Prior to the 2014-2015 school year, Shabbat dinners were the only events Hillel hosted,” Dinner said. “We have hosted a number of social events, including karaoke nights, we entered a team into this semester’s intramural volleyball league, and our Hillel: After Hours program offers students a place to relax, study, or just hang out with friends every Wednesday and Thursday evening in the Rathskeller.”

Hannah Levine, a junior psychology major and a member of Hillel, expressed why Shabbat is important and how it would benefit all students.

“I think having Shabbat dinners on campus is a great way to bring Jewish students together, and allow us to celebrate the weekend together,” Levine said. “It is also a great way for non-Jewish students to experience what Jewish families all over the world do on Friday nights. I love sitting with my family, and enjoying traditional foods like Matzo Ball soup and Challah.”   

Levine explained that it is important for the group to give Jewish students the ability to celebrate Shabbat even if they are away from home. Hillel also tries to cater to students with different beliefs to so that they can experience Shabbat.

“The purpose of Shabbat is to allow students to keep the same traditions they had at home, at school,” Levine said. “It also allows students who were never able to experience a Shabbat dinner at home have one here at UT. It also lets non-Jewish students experience the family and friendship we all feel when we get together on Fridays.”

This event will be held on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Rathskeller

Fatin Mohamad Amin can be reached at


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