On Friday, Nov. 22, the atrium of the Frick Chemistry Laboratory will be transformed into the setting of an elegant dinner that is part of an age-old tradition. Unlike many other dinners (like the mysterious alumni conference whose perfectly level-floored tent took over Alexander Beach for three weeks), this event will be entirely student-organized, with a guest list that will be almost entirely students.
Shabbat 360 is back for a second year after its well-received revival last year. Shabbat, which is the Jewish day of rest, begins every Friday at sunset and lasts until an hour after sunset on Saturday. One way that many people celebrate is by having a meal with friends and family on Friday evening. Both the Center for Jewish Life and Chabad on campus host weekly Shabbat dinners that are open to students of all faiths.
Shabbat 360 was held at least once in the University's history, before any of its current coordinators began their Princeton careers. Its revival was inspired in part by similar events put on at other universities.
“NYU has a similar event, which, I believe, is Shabbat 2000,” Chabad President Kenny Anhalt ’14 said. “I would imagine at some point Princeton said, ‘Why can’t we do this ourselves?’ ”
In addition to the usual Shabbat dinner traditions, this year’s Shabbat 360 will feature a joint speech by Anhalt and CJL Student Board President Anna Rubin ’15 on the significance of Shabbat. It will also include a discussion of a passage of the Torah. The entire event will take place under the glass ceiling of the Frick atrium as guests sit at tables covered in white tablecloths and dine on specially catered food.
The goal, both Anhalt and Rubin said, is to bring together all of the Jewish students on campus and anyone who would like to learn more about Shabbat and experience Shabbat dinner.
“We want people to be able to say, ‘I know what Shabbat is, I know why it’s important, and I had a great time participating in it.’ We want them to feel like they are part of the evening and not just observers,” Rubin said.
Why “360"? The number in the event’s name derives from the number of people who can fit in the Frick atrium — though the hosts are prepared to accommodate up to 400 — but is also a symbol for the diversity of attendees that the student coordinators hope to see.
“360 — it’s a circle; [there’s] kind of a symbolism there of all around campus, all different degrees of people, from all different backgrounds,” said Abigail Klionsky ’14, last year's vice president of the CJL student board and part of the executive board that helped bring Shabbat 360 back to campus.
Like last year, the event is being planned in a concerted effort by the student executive boards of both the CJL and Chabad. Each board was split into sub-committees (logistics, strategic planning and advertising) that work closely with their counterparts in the other organization. Planning the dinner is an opportunity for student leaders from the CJL and Chabad to join forces and work closely together on an event.
“[The organizations] don’t share the same philosophy; otherwise they’d be one organization, and so it gives an opportunity to bring those groups together,” Klionsky said.
While this is the most planning-intensive event that the two groups collaborate on, they also come together to co-host Sushi in the Sukkah, which takes place during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and various smaller events throughout the year.
Those who would like to attend Shabbat 360 need only fill out a Google form. Both Anhalt and Rubin look forward to sharing this experience with the greater Princeton community.
“The Chabad and CJL are warm, open places with a substance to them,” Anhalt said. “The event is about showing that, through this Shabbat experience, students can get a sense of the way in which the warm, open environments of Chabad and CJL can provide such an exciting religious Jewish experience.”