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New Student Lounge at Pratt Chabad “Comes at the Right Time”

Esther Sonnenschine has eaten lunch in her car more times than she cares to count.

For the graduating architecture student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, since Pratt eliminated the kosher options in the cafeteria, “there isn’t really anything to eat on campus for many Jewish students.”

And the dearth of kosher options wasn’t the only thing making Pratt’s 1,000 Jewish students feel unwelcome. Red handprints painted on trees, chants of “Intifada” on Friday afternoons, and hostility from classmates have left many feeling vulnerable and alone.

So Sonnenschine was thrilled to learn that Chabad of Pratt would be creating a student lounge and study hall.

Rabbi Yossi Elliav said that the climate on campus compelled this move. “I get calls every day from Jewish students who want us to do more to support them. In my four years at Pratt, the students have never felt more unsafe and intimidated just walking through the campus.” The Chabad representative and his wife Chana created the new off-campus space “so that students don’t have to feel threatened just walking to and from their dorms or study halls.”

The combination student lounge and study hall, connected to Chabad’s off-campus building, will contain a fully stocked fridge and freezer, with kosher meal items like frozen pizza available to students. There will be a kosher kitchen with ovens and a microwave; couches and lounge chairs; free WiFi; and extra-large desks — “because art students need a lot of space to work,” Sonnenschine explained. 

“This year, more than any other year, with all the craziness going on on campus, Jewish students have become closer than ever,” said Sonnenschine. “Having a place to connect with other Jewish students informally is something we’re very excited about.” 

Rabbi Yossi Eliav meets with Pratt Institute faculty
A challah bake with Chabad at Pratt
Rabbi Yossi and Chaya Eliav affix a mezuzah with a Jewish student
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