What student apathy? Although college students did not pack the voting booths in the record numbers expected by political pundits, there is no lack of enthusiasm among California’s Jewish student population for all things spiritual. More than 400 Jewish collegians from twenty five schools in California and Arizona, representing every major university on the West Coast, will be converging this weekend, November 5, on the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for an Intercollegiate Shabbaton. The event brings Jewish student leaders together for a Shabbat experience that will include services, Shabbat meals, mysticism classes, informal discussion, and a Saturday night concert by the Jewish rock star Peter Himmelman. The Shabbaton also provides an excellent opportunity for the participants to network and to discuss many of the concerns common to Jewish students on campuses today. This is the second year the intercollegiate Shabbaton has been organized by Chabad and the number of students has exceeded all expectations and has grown exponentially from last year’s inaugural event. “The excitement is contagious,” says Rabbi Dov Wagner, director of Chabad at USC. “Last year the turnout was far smaller, but it was such an inspiring weekend that the students wanted to come back and bring their friends.” Ariel Diamond, a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, attended last year’s event with two other students from her school. This year, there are fifteen students attending and, says Diamond, she is thrilled with the increase. “Being with students who were involved in Chabad and active with their rabbis on campus was wonderful for me last year,” she recalls. “I understand it’s going to be even bigger and better this year.” Much of this years’ increase is also attributable to the concurrent expansion of Chabad on West Coast campuses, some of whom were only fledgling organizations last year. “How amazing is it,” says Wagner, “that the impact of Chabad on each one of these campuses has resulted in so many students willing to make the eight hour trip from Arizona or Northern California or taking a weekend off from their studies and social plans to attend.” Among the schools represented at the Shabbaton are The University of Southern California, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, San Diego State, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, UC Berkley and Arizona State University. The event is sponsored, in part, by The Uforatzto Foundation in New York and Chabad of California, and USC’s Leadership Fund. Chava Frankiel, the student president of USC Chabad and one of the event coordinators noted that “there are many students involved in the preparations because we’re hosting all of the out-of-towners in our rooms and dorms and everyone is getting caught up in the momentum. I’m personally looking forward to meeting new people from different campuses and learning about their Jewish experiences.”
Friday, / July 10, 2020
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