January 24, 2012

New Shabbat Meal Plan Introduced to Help Kosher Diners

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Students keeping kosher without an unlimited meal plan may find it more convenient to dine at 104West! this semester on Friday nights due to a new Shabbat Meal Plan introduced by the kosher dining hall on Monday.

Students who are not living in Campus Life housing can now purchase the meal plan, which was developed by Hillel staff members and Cornell Dining. It costs $300 per semester and includes 20 meal swipes to be used only at 104West!

Meal swipes can also be used during the holidays, although additional charges still apply for some events such as Rosh Hashanah meals and Passover seders. As with traditional meal plans, students who purchase the Shabbat Meal Plan can also add Big Red Bucks to their accounts.

“This meal plan is aimed at the kosher-keeping population of students at Cornell, but more than just those who live in the Center for Jewish Living,” said Jacob Raskin ’13, former president of the Center for Jewish Living. “It’s for people who live in Collegetown or off-campus and want to keep kosher, especially during holidays.”

A regular at 104West!, Raskin noted that there is a variety of students with traditional meal plans who live near the center and choose to dine there; besides Jewish students, Muslim students and others with unique dietary restrictions sometimes opt to eat at 104West!, he said.

“It truly is a multi-faith dining hall,” Raskin said.

Students involved in creating the Shabbat Meal Plan said that for now, they only expect a slight change in the number of students who regularly eat at 104West!

“I’ve seen many students stop attending Shabbat and other holidays once coming to college,” Matt Scheff ’13, Hillel religious life chair, said. “It may be a psychological thing. Parents will see this new option and be more inclined to enroll their child in it.”

Phil Doane, marketing manager for Campus Life, said the first substantive dialogue about the Shabbat Meal Plan occurred about a year ago at a meeting of the Student Assembly dining committee. According to Scheff, many students were dissatisfied by the high cost of Shabbat meals.

Seeking to make Shabbat more accessible, staff members at the Center for Jewish Living and Hillel oversaw the elemental design of the new meal plan.

“For each Friday night, it was a debate about whether or not to spend the $13.47 if you had reserved the meal or the $18.47 if you did not reserve,” Hillel President Becky Haft ’13 said.

Because most students do not make reservations for Shabbat dinner in advance, according to Haft, the $15 per meal value offered by the plan will benefit some students. By making meals at 104West! more affordable, students hope fewer peers will be deterred from attending Shabbat.

“This new Shabbat meal plan is a step in the right direction towards making the 104West! experience more inclusive,” Scheff said.

Still, not all students were happy with the plan.

While Haft said that the meal plan is a good start, she said that Shabbat and Jewish holiday meals are still prohibitively expensive for some students and that there is more to do to make dining at 104West! more accessible.

Rachel Medin ’14, who regularly attends Shabbat dinners at 104West!, said that the Shabbat Meal Plan does little for students with traditional meal plans who want to go to occasional Friday night dinners and holiday meals.

“For students that don’t go to Shabbat every week, the meal plan isn’t quite enough to help with the high costs of Shabbat dinners,” Medin said.

Original Author: Elaine Lin

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