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Farewell to Seniors Gala In New Rutgers Chabad
They came from every campus of Rutgers to pay tribute and give a well deserved send-off to this year’s graduating seniors at Chabad’s Farewell to Seniors Gala Dinner last week. “Build it and they will come!” exclaimed Rabbi Goodman upon panning the new massive dining hall of Chabad House with the over 450 students seated in attendance for this year’s graduation festivities.  With great happiness, and some tears, some 50 graduating seniors took to the podium, spoke personal words of farewell and thanks, and said goodbye for now at the last Shabbat of this semester.

A plethora of balloons in Rutgers’ colors of red, white and black filled the hall, with an hors devours and cocktail reception preceded by Shabbat candle lighting and lively Shabbat services led by the graduates.  During the gala dinner, the seniors spoke movingly about their time in New Brunswick and what Rutgers Chabad meant to them.

Graduating Senior and outgoing Student President of Chabad House Jessica Loren, a Pharmacy major, recalled her first time walking into Chabad, “I was really afraid coming into the building for the first time, not knowing a soul, but Rabbi and Mrs. Goodman greeted me so warmly and introduced me around to everybody, I immediately felt at home. And home is what Chabad at Rutgers has been for me, and thousands more like me.  The Rabbi, Rebbetzin and their children welcomed me into their lives, and I feel like another one of their kids!  I am forever grateful to Chabad, and encourage every student at Rutgers to at least walk through the doors of Chabad some Friday night. You will not be disappointed. In fact, it just might change your life for the better, as it has mine.”

Matthew Montel, a graduating Rutgers School of Nursing student and Vice-President of Chabad commented how “Chabad creates a place where students of all backgrounds can get involved in Judaism in some way or another.  From helping out at Chabad’s weekly Tuesday night social Aleph Branch Café and weekly Shabbat Experience Friday nights, to learning with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goodman, everyone grows Jewishly and feels very good about it! I hope to continue my learning with the Rabbi after graduation.”

It has been taught that “more than the Jewish people have kept the Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”  Chabad’s weekly Shabbat Experience Friday Night Dinners welcoming in over 500 students per weekend was orchestrated by its student director and graduating senior, Lauren Nissenblatt, for the past two years.  A Rutgers School of Business major, Lauren spoke of “how surprised I was that I cherished coming to Chabad so often, even though I did not come from a religious background. Yet, my involvement seemed to have flourished here due to the very welcoming and loving environment created by the Goodmans and the other rabbis of Chabad. It gave me a place to explore my Judaism at my pace, yet be exposed to authentic Torah and Mitzvahs at the same time. My involvement means a lot to me, and I’m very proud to be associated here at Rutgers Chabad. And I’ve very happy that my younger brother Jason will also be involved in Chabad’s leadership team for this coming year.”

Other active graduates who spoke included: Nathaniel Dahan, Adam Nasar, Erez Kahan, David Rabban, Lev Gelfand, Jonny Benrimon, Reuven Tokayer, Jeffrey Krieger, Billy Attias, Adam Kornmehl, Isaac Benjamin, Lucas Krief, Elad Kasher, Mikey Mizrahi, Elana Resnick, Yael Novick, Martelle Spiewak, Keren Hayardeny, and Sara Klein.

Graduating Senior Joshua Block, finance major, added that “no matter what kind of week you had, a good one, or a bad one, at the end of the week, there was always Shabbos at Chabad!”  Reuven Toyaker, a graduating senior and head Baal Tefillah at Chabad commented, “I’ve gained a great deal from my involvement in Chabad, and with Rabbi Shagalow, and I believe that my activism here shows that one can have a successful Jewish experience here at Rutgers by attending both Chabad and Hillel.   A 5th year senior, who chose to remain anonymous for this article, told the story that at his Passover Seder at home, when his family all sat down at their Seder table laden with matzahs, charoses, and chicken soup, they all turned to page 1 of the Hagaddah and saw that the first thing to do was to make Kiddush over wine. “We have no wine! I forgot to buy it!” his father said.  Just then the Rutgers student remembered that he had received a gift the year before for his volunteer work for Chabad’s community service marathon.  It was a beautiful certificate of appreciation label stuck to…a bottle of kosher wine, right there on his bedroom shelf!  “It’s little miracles like these that keep us coming back to Chabad!”

 

 


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