A joint project of Chabad on campus at Northern Arizona University (NAU), University of Arizona (UA) and ASU, the Shabbaton presented an exciting setting for Jewish students at Arizona’s state universities to meet new faces and spend time with like-minded students. The event was co-sponsored by Chabad on Campus International Foundation.
“The best part of it all was simply the fact that so many Jewish people got together,” says Zac Abrams, a sophomore at NAU and regular at Chabad at NAU, which is run by RabbiDovie and Chaya Shapiro.
“After spending so much time at Chabad at our university, it’s a big inspiration to get together with Jewish students at other schools and realize that we’re part of something bigger,” he explains.
It was an immersive Shabbat experience, with Friday night services, a candle lighting ceremony and a five-course gourmet Shabbat meal on Friday evening. On Shabbat afternoon, one student from each university shared a thought on the Torah portion of the week during lunch.
“For Jewish student life on campuses in Arizona, the Shabbaton marked a major milestone,” says Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel, who directs Chabad at ASU together with his wife, Chana. The impressive turnout last weekend, he says, “is representative of the growth of Jewish engagement on campus.”
After lunch, students chose from a menu of classes on relevant topics, like Jewish marriage, sacred Judaism vs. cultural Judaism, and Jewish identity.
Ronen Baturow, a psychology major at ASU sat in on a class billed, The Gift of Unhappiness.
“I learned that it’s important to look at the long term, to approach life’s challenges with a deeper insight into how everything is ultimately a blessing in disguise,” he explains.
Capping the Shabbaton was a musical Havdalah service with an after-Shabbat BBQ and bonfire. Rabbi Zalman Levertov, director of Chabad in Arizona addressed the students during the BBQ event.
“I met a lot of students from ASU and NAU at the West Coast Shabbaton and at the recent New York Shabbaton, so it was great to pick up where we had left off,” says Jenna Langert, a double major in business economics and Judaic studies at UA, where RabbiYossi and Naomi Winner run Chabad activities on campus. “At Chabad, we feel part of one big Jewish family,” explains Langert.
“Over the Shabbaton, we got to know a lot more students who are part of our extended family.”
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