In the chaos of finals week, students strived to enhance Jewish life at Stockton University, beginning at its Chabad House.
On Dec. 10 and 11, the Chabad at Stockton University hosted an online fundraiser in an effort to continue the programs it runs for students, like Torah study classes, Shabbat dinners and a kosher cooking club, all of which are free, as well as operational expenses.
“Everything the students love coming for — a warm family environment — that’s going to continue,” said Rabbi Meir Rapoport, co-director of the Chabad at Stockton University. “There’s been a great outpouring of help.”
With a goal of $23,000, Chabad raised more than $25,000 within a 36-hour period. Three donors also pledged to match that amount.
The Chabad only joined the Stockton campus about a year and a half ago. There has been a Hillel on the campus for many years.
As a fairly new Jewish institution, they turned to the local Jewish community and the community at large to help support these programs since their foundation on campus.
“It’s the years where [college students] learn the most and take in the most, and it shapes who they are for the rest of their lives,” Rapoport said. As such, he said they should be able to learn about their Jewish heritage, too.
Rapoport noted that many students attend both Chabad and Hillel events. The student population is roughly 8 percent Jewish out of a total student body of about 9,000, including undergraduate and graduate students. On average, Rapoport said he sees 15 to 30 students for Shabbat dinners. When they started, only a handful attended.
“Of course it’s nice to say we have 30 students for Shabbat dinner, but really what counts is the fact that the students who come, we’re able to give them a positive Jewish experience and a warm family environment to celebrate Judaism,” he said.
Even if only less than a dozen students show up, Rapoport said they’re just as happy to be there, and he’s happy to host them.
Along with his wife and co-director Shaina, Rapoport said students visit them often just to chat and schmooze in a place where they are always welcome to hang out or relax.
“It’s really about the one-on-one personal touch that the Chabad House provides for the students,” he said.
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