Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Third annual Mega-Shabbat continues to grow, pushing limits of Allison dining hall

More than 400 people attended the third annual Mega-Shabbat on Friday, continuing its widespread popularity since its inception.

Held in Allison dining hall, Jewish and non-Jewish participants joined for formal Jewish prayers and ceremony, followed by a meal shared together.  Attendees said the event allowed for exposure to Jewish culture in a welcoming, informal setting. 

Northwestern Hillel, MEOR Northwestern and the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies sponsored the gathering, which received University funding.

Filling the main room and two adjoining rooms, participants came together to recite traditional prayers before dinner.

Weinberg sophomore Ariella Hoffman-Peterson, who helped organize the event, said hearing the combination of regularly practicing Jews with non-practicing or non-Jewish companions was truly unique.

“It’s not an experience that I’ll ever have again,” she said.

Hillel Executive Director Michael Simon said the event tied in with several of Hillel’s broader goals, among them allowing students to take ownership of Jewish life and events on campus.

Since the event began in 2012, Mega-Shabbat has grown in attendance each year. A system of table captains who invited friends and acquaintances helped spread the word to students, co-director Iszy Licht said.

For some, the chance to experience a traditional Jewish Shabbat was meaningful, reminding them of their upbringing or background.

“It was nice to have a little bit of home. It was familiar,” said Julia Greenberger, a SESP senior who grew up celebrating Shabbat every week.

Other students came to experience Jewish culture for the first time, or simply to enjoy free food and company.

Following the dinner, Rabbis Aaron Potek and Josh Livingstone led a discussion about the hook-up culture among youth, including a talk called “Chooking Up — Torah Sexuality.”

Potek said students engaged on a “deep level,” adding he felt this kind of open contemplation and discussion is often undervalued.

Others observed this attitude of lingering in conversation and company throughout the whole event. It was a break from the “I need to be busy, I need to work on my grades” attitude, Weinberg freshman Daniel Sacks said.

This year’s event built on previous years with a couple of modifications. Among them was the switch from buffet style, which Licht described as chaotic and inefficient, to servers bringing food to the tables.

Simon said Mega-Shabbat has outgrown the Allison dining hall. Although everyone was accommodated by the end of the night, including those who had been wait listed, there was a degree of uncertainty if all those interested would be able to attend.

“What’s been really gratifying is to know that there’s a buzz about it and a lot of students want to participate,” Simon said. “Before the fact, rather than after, we would like to accommodate everyone.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @clwassink

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Third annual Mega-Shabbat continues to grow, pushing limits of Allison dining hall