Maryland Hillel’s annual SHABAM shares Shabbat dinner across campus

More than 800 students attended SHABAM, Maryland Hillel’s annual campus-wide shabbat meal, Friday night.

SHABAM, shortened from the Gorlin Family Foundation’s Shabbat Across Maryland, brings together Terps around the world to host traditional Jewish meals in various locations. Dinners are hosted by sororities and fraternities, friends with apartments and organizations and clubs.

Tali Lupovitch, one of SHABAM’s main coordinators, said this year’s event was extremely successful. Last year, more than 1,600 students attended SHABAM across 70 different meals, including 21 alumni meals across the globe.

Shabbat is a central part of Jewish life and the values they uphold. They see it as a holy day of rest without work, and it is ritual to host a meal on Friday nights with friends and family and not use electricity, such as turning on the lights or using one’s phone.

SHABAM was created to unite Jews all over campus no matter how they define themselves within their religion. Many people host themed dinners such as hometowns, camp alumni, clubs and organizations or sports teams, or people can be randomly placed at any meal if they want to participate, but don’t know anyone personally hosting a meal.

Aaron Yitzhaky, a junior business major who hosted a meal, explained that for him SHABAM is an important day of the year that unites people with shared history. Yitzhaky hosted a Sephardic meal, which included those with Jewish ancestors from Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East.

“It is such an incredible day with so much meaning, and everyone should be able to have the experience of Shabbat with fellow people in their community,” Yitzhaky said. “It is a beautiful thing that everyone can come together, even if it’s for one day and just have a meal dedicated to being with friends and family, no matter how you define yourself as a Jew.”

Hannah Stein, a sophomore public health major, attended her first SHABAM hosted by her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma.

“It’s a really nice idea for people who identify as Jewish but don’t get to be ritually Jewish throughout the year and have weekly shabbats,” she said. “Even though most people will be placed randomly, I feel like the community is so welcoming and inviting, no matter how you define yourself. It’s amazing to have a community that is so big on making everyone feel welcome.”

Applications to host a meal were due by Nov. 1 in order to have the meal reimbursed or have food provided by Maryland Hillel.

“It was extremely successful, and to me it felt amazing that I was able to be a part of something that brings so many people together,” Lupovitch said. “We put in so many hours of hard work to make sure that everyone is included and has a great shabbat. In the end, it was extremely worth it to see so much warmth in every single meal.”

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