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Over 1,200 College Students at NYC Shabbaton

Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 10:01 am
Posted by Chabad on Campus

Over 1,200 College Students Flock to Crown Heights, NYC for the Largest Ever Chabad on Campus Shabbaton

Over 1,200 university students from more than 129 college campuses across the United States and the world spent this past weekend in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York City, at the annual Chabad on Campus JewFest Shabbaton.

The fully immersive weekend program included discussions with leading Rabbis and Rebbetzins, former soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces, YouTube stars, and other personalities, covering a wide range of topics such as The Kabballah of Love, Mindfulness and Prayer, and a How-To guide for young Jewish professionals. It also included a spirited Shabbat program called Shabbat Live: Eat. Think. Celebrate, where participants spent quality time with their host family, met other Jewish University Students, eat, sang, danced, and continued to delve deep into the topics that are relevant to young Jews today. The eventful Shabbat culminated with an energetic Havdalah ceremony that broke out into spontaneous dancing, followed by a legendary Saturday night Ultra party led by DJ Levyticus.

On Sunday, the closing program focused on the theme of the weekend, “JewFest: The f_ture needs U,”  as the students, Rabbis, Rebbetzins, and speakers discussed how to take tools acquired over the weekend and apply them to everyday life. “Leadership” and “Paying it Forward” were the two main themes of the day. The students then visited the “Ohel,” the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the most influential Rabbi of our time, and a figure who personified the themes discussed  during the day.

For Itai Kreisler, a Biomedical Engineering student at Arizona State, the weekend was unforgettable for a variety of reasons. “The [Shabbat] services on Friday night were so spirited and fun. Everyone was out of their seats singing and dancing. The following morning, there were so many classes I connected to, specifically on Love and Relationships. At Ultra—the dance party on Saturday night—I danced with so many different students from across the country for hours on end, and even some Rabbis from other campuses,” said Itai, who was attending his 3rd JewFest. “The last two years were so amazing that I was surprised that this year was even better.”

JewFest dedicated itself to creating an environment where attendees are encouraged to socialize, mingle, and create a sense of community. “This Shabbaton gives students the opportunity to connect with others from campuses across the United States and around the world, share ideas, expand their network, learn new things, and have fun,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, Executive Vice President of Chabad on Campus International. “As well, they spend Shabbat in the warm, welcoming, and proud Jewish community of Crown Heights. “

“I think the most important part of JewFest is connecting to other students. As Jews on campus, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the crowds because so often many of our friends are not Jewish and don’t really understand where we are coming from,” Itai added.

“[JewFest] instills pride that really shows when we head back to campus. Seeing over 1,200 other Jewish students who make Judaism a part of their lives strengthens each and every one of us to not be afraid to be who we are back on campus. We are not alone. We have our fellow students and our Chabad families to support us in any way they can.”

“Overall JewFest really covered everything a Jew on campus could want: meaningful Jewish experiences, real Jewish connections, and good Jewish food,” Itai concluded.

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