Hillel fosters community, rings in Dillo weekend with Shabbat


Aviva Bechky/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern Hillel’s annual Dillo Shabbat on Friday night featured alien-themed decorations and offered attendees falafel, pita, hummus and Italian ice from Rita’s.

Aviva Bechky, Print Managing Editor

Northwestern Hillel welcomed about 240 students to its annual Dillo Shabbat — this year, an alien-themed celebration of the Sabbath — on Friday.

Attendees enjoyed falafel, pita and hummus as well as Italian ice from Rita’s. A green inflatable alien next to a bubble-blowing machine greeted visitors outside the Hillel building, in keeping with the 51st Dillo Day’s theme: Planet Dillo. Inside, people socialized, spun a prize wheel and listened to members of student band Muse etc. perform an acoustic jazz set.

“We have Shabbat dinners every week here at Hillel, but this is an elevated version open to everyone,” said Weinberg sophomore Sari Eisen, president of the NU Hillel Executive Board. “Everyone’s welcome just to celebrate the Shabbat, but also bring in Dillo weekend.” 

Hillel also offered its weekly student-led Reform and Conservative Friday night services. During Dillo Shabbat, students briefly gathered to say prayers over grape juice and challah, led by campus Rabbi Jessica Lott. Several of the challah loaves featured paper planets, astronauts and other space-themed cut-outs.

Students planned the bulk of Dillo Shabbat, Lott said. She helped with logistics around how to best integrate ritual and prayer into the event.

Dillo Shabbat started several years ago, she said, and has since blossomed into one of Hillel’s “signature events.”

“(It’s) just really a time to sort of say, ‘Oh, before Dillo happens, let’s all get together and just have food and connection,’” Lott said.

Weinberg junior Shara Reimer, programming co-chair of the Hillel Executive Board, said she loved seeing people turn out with their friends to have fun the night before a “crazy weekend.”

She added that she wanted the event to be inviting to all, hoping non-Jewish community members and out-of-town guests would attend.

“We just tried to do as much as we could to make it feel like a special, fun start to the weekend, while also just staying true to the values at Hillel of being inclusive and community-oriented,” Reimer said.

After spending hours per week planning the event, Reimer said it felt amazing to see the turnout Friday.

McCormick sophomore Kai Feinberg and Weinberg sophomore Lydia Tallarini, who both attended, said they’d never been to Hillel before Dillo Shabbat. They heard about the event through a friend and enjoyed it once they arrived.

“I think it’s a really nice space that I didn’t know about at all before today,” Feinberg said. “It’s a good vibe.”

In contrast, Weinberg sophomore Emily Gal comes to Hillel weekly. She said Dillo Shabbat drew more people and created a less formal environment than a typical Friday night.

Gal said the event seems to have taken some of the religion out of a typical Friday Shabbat gathering to focus more on community-building, which she said she appreciated.

“I think it’s good to foster communities through different organizations and people on campus,” Gal said. “It seems like everyone’s having a really good time, enjoying the food and making new friends.”

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