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Sunday, September 24, 2023 - 9 Tishrei 5784
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Food Glorious Food
In honor of the 37th Anniversary of the founding of Chabad House at Rutgers University, Chabad has recently published a 204 page coffee-table pictorial album.   This book is complete with the history of Chabad House, from its humble beginning in a rented room to its present day location in the heart of the Rutgers Campus.  Colorful stories and photos depict all aspects of the Chabad House and its outreach activities at Rutgers, and throughout New Jersey.

The album contains special articles written by Elie Wiesel, and by Governor Chris Christie.

We are proud to present you with excerpts from this magnificent historical account of how the largest Chabad House in the world was founded and nurtured by rabbis, community leaders, and supporters.  

* * *

“Where should we go out to eat tonight?” is always an exciting question, especially when you’re with good friends and sharing a night over delicious food. Chabad’s International Food Court at Rutgers provides 3 restaurant-quality buffets a day, seven days a week. “This is not your typical mass produced, college cafeteria-style foods,” commented Rutgers senior Doran Shapiro, an IDF Veteran and student activist on campus,“these are chef-prepared creations of only the most delicious, freshly prepared foods!”

Menu options offer favorites such as lean sizzling grilled beef burgers, pepper steak, homemade personal pizza pies with a wide variety of toppings, falafel, baked ziti, eggplant parmesan, sweet potato fries, overstuffed  hero sandwiches, tacos, wraps, quesadilas, cheese,potato and spinach calzones, and burritos, with daily soup du jours, full salads bars, and fresh fruits – all very nutritious and delicious. Chefs Chezky Adler and Aryeh Spilman have a combined 30 years of experience in the food processing industry. Their innovative menu is based on American cuisine, as well as Middle Eastern, Syrian, and international dishes. Themed dinners include the “Mexican Fiesta”, “KFC Dinner” (Kosher Fried Chicken),and, of course, the typical Eastern European Kugels and Chicken Soup with matzah balls.

Certainly the kosher meal plan helps students who keep kosher focus on their education without havingto spend precious time shopping for kosher food off campus, or simply having to subsist on yogurt and cereal. Dr. Anne Arenson Winter asserts that the kosher meal plan, which enables her two children Rachel and Avi Kemp to continue observing kashrut according to their strict standards, was one of the major factors in  choosing Rutgers.

But, the kosher food is hardly for observant students only. Regardless of kashrut levels, it’s simply fun and convenient to share tasty food with good friends. The Chabad House is the go-to place for students seeking social and cultural activities, as well as a warm, inviting atmosphere where they can hang out in comfortable lounges and study at the library.

It is not surprising that many students take advantage of the plan’s flexible options. While approximately 200 students are signed up for the full plan, another 30 students usually stop in for lunch or dinner on any given day.

Friday night dinners, as well as all the meals on Shabbat, are absolutely free to encourage Shabbat observance, and to help students and their guests experience the warmth and delicious tastes of Shabbat.

Explains Chabad House Administrator, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, “our overall budget is huge and the mealplan is the most costly part of it. It takes a lot of fundraising to serve close to five hundred free meal severy Shabbos, but we believe it’s entirely worth the expense.” He smiles and adds, “Besides, that’s the Chabad House way.”

And now, a great thing has become even better! The new expanded Chabad Center, with its new 7,700 sq. ft.dining area, is large enough to seat over 750 students. With its new, state of the art industrial meat and dairy kitchens, the luxurious dining hall is now large enough to gain revenue and offset costs by holding large catered events at the Chabad House.

The history of the Chabad House meal plan actually traces back to Rabbi Baruch Goodman, just after he arrived to serve as the Rutgers Campus Rabbi. It was the late-1980s and Chabad House was just beginning to gather steam. Rabbi Goodman together with then-Rutgers student Mitch Lefkofsky, recognized that bringing Chabad to the next level involved something that would have a direct effect in the lives of the students, something that would bring students through the doors of Chabad each and every day. Food! More
precisely, good kosher food. From this line of reasoning the Chabad Meal Plan and International Food Court were first established.

“In the late eighties, it was just becoming popular to attend Jewish functions on campus,” explains Chabad House Executive Director Rabbi Yosef Carlebach. “The meal plan was instrumental in capitalizing on this growing sense of Jewish pride and increasing the level of Jewish observance and participation on campus.”

Subsequently, as many students report, the meal plan served another very important function for Jewish students: friendships. “When I first arrived at Rutgers, I signed up for the general meal plan at Brower Commons, the main student cafeteria,” explains Merisa (Vinick) Fink. “Then I decided that I wanted to see my Jewish friends on a regular basis. My first step was signing up for the Chabad Meal Plan.” Merisa has been enrolled in the meal plan ever since, through and including her senior year of college. “I’ve made most of my friends through Chabad House - I love everything about this place. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is so good, either.” Explains Eugene Grudnikov, “Chabad has everything: food for the body, food for the soul. I’ve made many of my closest friends through Friday night dinners and the meal plan.”


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