Friday evening: Classes are over, and the prospect of the Saturday ahead vanquishes any desire to start the weekend’s workload. Friday is a night for relaxation. That’s where the idea of “Shabbat 360” came from, according to the student boards of Chabad and the Center for Jewish Life (CJL).
“Jews take this relaxing bit seriously — we even have a name for it: Shabbat,” they wrote in an email to the student body. “We like this idea of Shabbat, and we’re thinking you might too. Which is why we’re inviting you to a very special Shabbat dinner.”
The event, which took place Nov. 16 at the New Frick Laboratory, also was a chance for students from across campus to come together and learn about the weekly Jewish holiday, said Ricky Silberman ’13, the president of the student board of CJL.
“Every kind of person was there, Jewish students, non-Jewish students,” Silberman said. “It was great to share this part of Jewish tradition with all of campus.”
Organizers hoped “to expose people to what Shabbat is and what it means to members of the Jewish community,” said Ben Neumann ’14 president of Princeton’s chapter of Chabad.
At 6:15 p.m., students arrived in the New Frick atrium, circulating and then gradually settling into their seats at one of the 45 tables, the scene reflecting on the building’s tall glass ceiling.
“Shabbat Shalom!” yelled Rabbi Webb, of Princeton’s Chabad, from a balcony overlooking the scene. “Good Shabbas, and welcome!”
In the crowd below, many wore the traditional kippahs and sang along during the blessings over the bread and wine, led by Webb, Silberman, and Neumann. However, many others were less familiar with Jewish culture. During the prayers, questions abounded.
“How do we say it? Happy Shabbas?” asked Tim Keyes ’14.
“Do we stand up now? Should we be standing?” asked Evangelie Zachos ’14, during he prayer over wine.
There was one question that even stumped many of the observant Jews in attendance: Why the number 360?
“It’s a dual answer,” said Abby Klionsky ’14, vice president of the CJL student board. “New Frick, which is one of the biggest venues on campus, can hold around 360 people. It’s also a nice, round number, like we’re welcoming the whole campus community.”