“It’s Shabbat, it’s what we do,” said Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, the executive director of Hillel, at the beginning of Hillel’s fourth annual Shabbat 1000.
The biggest Hillel event of the year was held in Barton Hall and attracted Jews and non-Jews alike from the Cornell community for a free Shabbat meal.
Four years ago, Shabbat 1000 was conceived with the intent of bringing over 1,000 Cornell students together for a traditional Shabbat experience. This year, close to 1,500 students attended the event, projected to be the best turnout for a Hillel-sponsored activity all year. The meal began with a speech by Rosenthal and a traditional Shabbat melody, followed by candle lighting and the Kiddush. At each table, Shabbat pamphlets featuring selected prayers were available so that in the future, students could observe Shabbat no matter where they were. About 12 students sat at each table, including one table leader from the Hillel staff.
Table leader Liza Rubenstein ’10 decided to help out this year after coming to last year’s event.
“It’s about eating a nice meal with friends, and this year I really wanted to help out,” Rubenstein said.
Rubenstein said she thinks the event is a great way to meet up with other Cornellians one may not ordinarily see on a regular basis.
“It’s so much fun because everyone goes, and I hope the Shabbat 1000 tradition stays strong in years to come.”
To host and sponsor such a large event, Hillel received donations from David and Cheryl Einhorn ’91 along with others from the Hillel community and alumni committee. The Einhorns were considering how to allocate the donation four years ago and told Rosenthal they wanted to start a new event at Cornell. The rabbi suggested Shabbat 1000 and the couple agreed that it would be a new and different program for the Cornell community.
Polina Minkin ’10 said she was happy that the Einhorn’s decided to earmark their donation to the now-annual Hillel event.
“It’s really so generous of them and it’s definitely a great cause since it’s effective in getting so many people to come,” Minkin said.
The Einhorns met at Cornell and are still deeply involved in the Cornell community. Both have many relatives who attended the University and Cheryl’s father is a professor at Weill Cornell Medical School in Manhattan. The Einhorns were overjoyed with the turnout and were ecstatic with the event’s success.
“It’s been brilliant, fabulous … definitely one of the highlights of the year,” the couple agreed.
Rosenthal said the purpose of the event was twofold, “To share the energy and vibrant nature of Shabbat and to welcome everyone to Cornell, Jewish or not, and share our traditions with them.”
Rosenthal explained that since preparations for the event began last spring, a tremendous amount of work has gone into Shabbat 1000; fortunately, he said, the student members of Hillel were very active in planning and volunteering for the event, helping out as table leaders and recruiting people to come.
Immediately following Shabbat 1000, there was an “Evening of Comedy with Ahmed Ahmed” from Comedy Central’s “Evil of Axis” tour, sponsored by the Iranian Students Organization.