It was anything but your regular Shabbat dinner at Chabad House at Rutgers last week when 125 students of Syrian Sephardic tradition came together and celebrated their heritage at an SY Shabbaton sponsored by Chabad House at Rutgers University. Together with hundreds more student regulars from Ashkenazic and other cultural backgrounds, Syrian Jewish student leaders, including Lauren Araman, Irving Hanan, Rebecca Sasson, Billy Zagha, Albert Cohen, Carly Parker, Millie Hakim, Leor Dayan, Ralph Ades, Kiel Portnoy, Claudia Ades, Danielle Shanskhalil and Perry Halawani, organized, invited, decorated, and cooked up an authentic culinary Syrian cuisine for the over 350 students who attended.
The menu was complete with SY favorites including lachemajine –sweet tamarind beef mini pizza pies, kibbeh – a middle eastern dish of ground lamb and beef stuffed into a bulgar wheat torpedo-shaped shell, herbal shira rice pilaf, baked Syrian Aleppo chicken, Moroccan beef and veggie cigars, stuffed zucchini mahshi, homemade chumus, spiced herbal challah, sweet kaak cookies, exotic Damascus daiquiri mocktails, and sweet cheese sambusak for Shabbat morning, before the SY Shacharit Shabbat Minyan.
Sephardic student leaders led the services in the new Sephardic Synagogue in Chabad House, the first and only Sephardic Bet Knesset (Shul) on a public university campus in the United States. Rabbi Baruch Goodman, Campus Director, spoke of the "major contributions to Jewish life around the world, and on campus at Rutgers, by the Sephardic students. Their powerful spiritual sensitivity and love for G-d's mitzvot (commandments) are truly exemplary; they very much set the pace for enthusiastic Jewish identity and involvement on campus." During the meal, Syrian Jewish songs were sung and divrei Torah quoting Syrian chachamim were said over by Chabad's Syrian students.
“"Mabrouk to our amazing and growing Syrian/Sephardic community of students here at Rutgers,” commented the “head chef” of this Shabbaton, Rutgers Freshman, Lauren Araman, “may we go from strength to strength, keeping our beautifully rich customs alive while we’re away from home in college.”
8:04 PM in New Brunswick, NJ
Shabbat Ends 9:11 PM
Friday, 31 May 2019