By STEPHANIE CHAE
The Jewish Student Association kicked off the University of Mary Washington’s Jewish Cultural Celebration by hosting their annual Shabbat dinner in the faculty and staff dining room at Seacobeck dining hall. While this cultural celebration event is now traditional to the UMW community, it has only been around for a few years.
The Shabbat dinner is a weekly tradition that indicates the day of rest for the Jewish community. The Sabbath begins on Friday evening at sundown and lasts until Saturday evening, traditionally when three stars are visible in the night sky. The Jewish community begins the Sabbath with the Shabbat dinner, ceases any laborious work and spends the time with family and friends.
“It is one of those times that brings people together and celebrates culture. It is a good way to introduce the Mary Washington campus to what it is like to be Jewish,” said junior and co-president of JSA, Dahlia Somers.
The night began with a 20-minute service of the main prayer, followed by a Jewish dinner provided by Sedexo, consisting of potato latkes, potato knish, challah and kugel among other foods.
“Food is a major part of all the Jewish holidays because it is usually the center piece of the holidays. The Holidays are usually based around a dinner,” freshman Daniel Kehrer said.
While most of the people who were present were not Jewish and did not know the prayers, they had the opportunity to be directly involved in the service. The JSA printed out the prayers for the attendees.
“It was really heart-warming to see everyone get involved,” said co-president of JSA Kelly Sanborn.
There was a larger participation from JSA members, faculty members and the staff of the James Farmer Multicultural Center rather than the students.
“It was a little disappointing, but I think everyone who was there left having gained something,” Somers said. “Social needs are met in other groups on campus. Also, you can be Jewish and not be involved in [JSA]. You don’t have to affiliate yourself with a group to be Jewish because being Jewish is a part of your heritage and culture.”
The Shabbat dinner was only one of the many events that the JSA hosted during their week and a half long Jewish Cultural Celebration. The Saturday after dinner, five girls from JSA went on a trip to Washington, D.C. On Monday, the JSA hosted a Kristallnacht Commemoration featuring a Holocaust survivor.
“I think it is very cool that the JSA is introducing the Jewish culture to the Mary Washington community because people don’t know that much about the Jewish culture,” Kehrer said.