September 12, 2005

Shabbat 1000 Celebration Draws In Record Numbers

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Over 1,000 students celebrated the Jewish tradition of Shabbat Friday night during Hillel’s annual Shabbat 1000 event. The celebration drew record numbers of attendees under themed tables sponsored by individuals and student organizations.

Over twenty organizations – from the Jewish Vegetarian Club to the East Hill Flying Club – entertained table guests to partake in the Jewish tradition. After opening prayer and the washing of hands, attendees were treated to a buffet-style Jewish dinner.

In many respects, this year’s Shabbat 1000 exceeded the expectations set by last year’s inaugural celebration. Up from last year, attendance was “just shy of 1,400” this year, according to Rabbi Ed Rosenthal.

Students also said that Friday’s Shabbat 1000 outshined last year’s festivities in slightly less large-scale aspects.

“I feel like the challah was much better this year,” Natalie Levy ’08 said.

The environment, whether bolstered by enhancements or not, was favorable to many of the participants.

“It’s truly amazing how many Cornell students showed up to this event,” said Nicki Leitner ’08.

“This is an opportunity for a mench [person] like me to have some kosher food and feel the mishpuchah [family] in the room- pending it’s not a schvitz [steambath] in here,” said Daniel Weisfeld ’05.

Organizers of the event were equally pleased with the event’s turnout and atmosphere.

“It was just fantastic,” Rosenthal said. “Everybody had a great time kicking the year off in the most positive way possible,” he said.

“We were all thrilled … it went off wonderfully,” said Malka Benjamin ’07, the co-vice chair of Creative Development for the Cornell Hillel Student Union. “We pulled a really large, diverse crowd in.”

The crowd’s diversity was in part augmented by the addition of Tulane University students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Though the exact number of students, according to Benjamin, could not be determined, she knew of at least a few Tulane students who had made contact with her prior to the event.

The assembly was also diverse in its inclusion of non-Jewish students. Though Hillel advertised the event as celebrating Shabbat with “999 other Jewish students,” Benjamin said that students were not asked questions of a religious nature when they registered tables for the dinner.

“I went to support the faith of my Jewish friends,” said Tiffany Goh ’07, a non-Jewish student who attended the event. “I was surprised to see a lot of non-Jewish people there,” she added.

Shabbat 1000, which, according to Rosenthal, is celebrated at a few universities across the nation, was first suggested as a possible Cornell Hillel event by participating students. Event benefactors David Einhorn ’91 and Cheryl Strauss-Einhorn ’91 had approached the Hillel leadership in search of exciting suggestions for the Cornell Jewish community.

After students voiced support for the Shabbat 1000 event, Rosenthal introduced the idea to the Einhorns, who have now supported two Shabbat 1000 dinners at Cornell.

“Next year we’ll do the Shabbat 1,000,000,” Einhorn said of the event’s past successes and future possibilities.

Rosenthal, too, was optimistic about the prospects for a third iteration of the celebration: “I have to speak to the Einhorns, but I have a feeling yes,” he said, referring to the possibility of a third Shabbat 1000.

Archived article by Rob Fishman
Sun Staff Writer