The streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn came alive over Shabbat, November 13, as some four hundred college students from over forty college campuses across the country convened for a weekend of inspiration.
The unpredictability surrounding the delta variant and constant changes in travel restrictions made it impossible for Chabad on Campus International to orchestrate their annual “Pegisha” event on its usual large scale. Instead, they facilitated grants for each Chabad on Campus to bring a group to New York at the time of their choosing. In the end, delegations from over forty campuses spontaneously arranged amongst themselves to travel to New York together. It was to be an unforgettable Shabbat.
After meeting up Friday afternoon at a specially prepared hall, the students welcomed Shabbat before heading out to share Friday night dinner with the dozens of local families who opened their homes for the occasion. Throughout Shabbat, students hung out, schmoozed, and deepened their understanding and appreciation of Judaism. Noted public speakers and Chabad on Campus rabbis and rebbetzins offered inspiring words and facilitated meaningful conversations for the students.
Past years saw upwards of a thousand students convening for the Pegisha weekend. But Mrs. Nechama Tiechtel of Chabad at the University of Kansas found the scaled-back affair necessitated by the pandemic to be even more uplifting than usual. “It struck the perfect balance between grandeur and closeness,” she said. “Having a smaller event made it much easier to make new friends and bond.”
After the program concluded with a trip to the Ohel, or resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, some significant resolutions were made. At least one student resolved to begin keeping Shabbat, and many more committed to taking steps big and small towards a more active observance of Judaism.
The atmosphere of spending a Shabbat immersed in a large Jewish community worked its own magic. “Of course I’ve heard about Jewish pride, but this was the first time I saw it played out in real life,” said Ada Gindin from the Chabad at SMC, “I was so touched to be able to experience that first hand.”