Why I Attend Shabbat Dinner Every Friday

Every Friday night, I attend what is, in my admittedly somewhat biased, opinion, one of the most underrated events on campus: Shabbat dinner. Hosted by Bates College Hillel, a group of students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, gathers in the Office of Intercultural Education to celebrate the end of the week. Shabbat is a Jewish tradition that begins every Friday evening and extends through the entirety of Saturday, and it marks the day of rest. It’s a time to unwind and abstain from labor, and having Shabbat dinner with Bates College Hillel is absolutely one of my favorite activities on campus.

We bake and braid challah before services, always decorating the loaves with fun ingredients like M&M's (some of our most popular challahs include our pumpkin spice loaf and our Nutella loaf). We have services every week, singing songs like “L’cha Dodi,” “Shalom Aleichem,” and “Oseh Shalom” before lighting candles, reciting the Kiddush to bless the wine, and singing the “Hamotzi” over the freshly-baked challah bread. After services and blessings, we eat dinner together and talk about our week and plans for the weekend. Sometimes we get food from local restaurants like Pure Thai and Mother India, which always lead to large turnouts for dinner.

After an extremely stressful week, I’m so thankful to have Shabbat every Friday. I’ve found some of my closest friends by attending these events, and I love being with them in a cozy space just hanging out. Shabbat dinner is, for me, a designated time every week that’s set aside during which I don’t do any work. I can rely on Shabbat to be a time of actual distressing and warmth, and the community I’ve gained through Hillel has been amazing beyond words. If you’ve never attended a Shabbat dinner, I strongly recommend going. It’s become an activity for me that I treasure, and it’s a great way for me to take care of myself by taking time to savor the present, not worrying about the past or the future. Shabbat allows me to stay in the moment, and for me, that’s a wonderful gift.

 

Cover image from Shutterstock.