This Friday, February 16th, marks the 7th annual gathering of Shabbat 300. This yearly Jewish community event provides an opportunity for family and friends of all backgrounds to celebrate Shabbat, the weekly day of rest in the Jewish faith that begins on Friday at sunset and ends on Saturday night.
Shabbat 300 began in 2011, and has been hosted by Chabad and Hillel, two of the Jewish organizations here at UVa, since its inception. It was started by the Jewish Leadership Council’s then-chair, Daniel Novick (’12), and was designed to get 300 participants together to celebrate a Jewish tradition in a way that promotes inclusivity for all members of UVa, regardless of religion or creed.
Each Shabbat 300 features prayer services spoken primarily in Hebrew, and a dinner, to be held directly after the 6pm service at 7:00pm. This dinner is provided free of charge by UVa Chabad, who personally make all the food to ensure that it is Kosher for the event.
According to Annie Goodstein, a fourth-year student and the current president of the Jewish Religious Life Council, Shabbat 300 is a way to recognize Shabbat in a meaningful way with friends and family, whether of the Jewish faith or not.
“As the Jewish community we try to do a lot with getting to know other communities and portraying ourselves as a welcoming inclusive space. Everyone’s welcome to weekly Shabbat dinners, but at Shabbat 300 we like to show what we’re all about and what we do.”
In past years, Shabbat 300 has featured musical performances and attendance by Dean Groves and President Sullivan. More than anything, the welcoming nature and fun atmosphere of this event offers a glimpse into the strength of the Jewish community at UVa for Jews and non-Jews alike, through the context of an observed holy day.
“I look forward to seeing everyone each week and getting to experience and learn more about such an accepting religion,” says Colleen Cox, who first began attending regular Shabbat dinners as a second year student and also attends the annual Shabbat 300.
Although not of the Jewish faith, Cox believes that Shabbat 300 is a “great opportunity for anyone and everyone in the UVa and larger Charlottesville community to get to see what the Jewish community here is all about.”
Goodstein, who will be leading the prayer service one more time before she graduates in the spring, is excited for this year’s event and proud of its consistent turnout.
“It’s pretty impressive to get 300 people in a room to do something that’s cultural on a Friday night,” she says. “We try to get everyone to RSVP, we have a Facebook event, it’s a lot of texting our Jewish friends and anyone else, ‘Hey, come,’ and usually people are excited about it because it’s a big thing that we do every year.”
For those interested in attending the 7th Annual Shabbat 300 this Friday, please RSVP using the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSecrnNDQ17zyW0yl9l5V8TaJ7IYnRJ5Z2Y4XR8o5dWmdu5duQ/viewform