If there is one certainty in college campus life, it’s that where there is free food, students will follow.
That explains why volunteers and employees of the Jewish Heritage Programs had 500 pounds of potatoes, 250 bags of salad, 200 chickens and 175 challah loaves ready to give away Friday at the Lubavitch House at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Shabbat for 2000 program happens once a semester and provides Penn students with the supplies they need to host Friday night dinners.
Students can host events for just a few roommates or for three tables of 20. They just tell organizers with Jewish Heritage Programs, a group affiliated with the Lubavitch House, how many guests and then receive the right amount of — or a little more than enough — food. (In addition to the food, students also receive soda, candles and prayer books.)
“It’s just a really great opportunity to get a lot of students involved and to give students the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat together who might otherwise not be celebrating Shabbat on their own,” said Ilana Emmett, project manager of the heritage program.
Rachel Waxman, a recent college graduate now in a fellowship with the heritage program, said the take-home Shabbat dinners offer alternatives to meals at organizations like Hillel or even Lubavitch House itself.
“They get to have their own friends over,” Waxman said. “There’s none of that awkwardness like the free dinners where you don’t know anyone. I think that’s something that makes a lot of college students uncomfortable.”