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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Community dinner establishes lasting tradition

Published: September 5, 2014
Section: News

This past Friday, Aug. 29, the Brandeis Orientation Core Committee hosted a community dinner to welcome and bring together students, faculty and community members. This event was designed to kick off the new semester. Hundreds were in attendance.

Created in the spirit of the Jewish Sabbath, which is observed every Friday and Saturday from sundown to sundown, the non-denominational dinner aimed to spark recognition and discussion of the various religious and cultural traditions represented by members of the Brandeis community. At the event hosted on the Great Lawn, chaplains from the Jewish and Protestant faiths spoke and sang about their religious traditions. Reverend Matt Carriker, the Protestant chaplain, even brought out his guitar. Student Union President Sneha Walia ’15, Core Member Ellie Rosenthal ’16 and Mo Sidique ’15 also spoke about their own traditions at the event. Rosenthal planned the dinner as one of the numerous Orientation events held during the first week of classes. Following the dinner, formal Shabbat services took place at various locations on campus at 7 p.m., followed by a traditional Shabbat dinner in Sherman. Thus, the community dinner not only kicked off the year, but a weekend filled with many events.

Cultural breads, salads, mac and cheese, chicken, potato salad, brisket, cookies and pies were served for dinner to all students. The breads added to the theme of diversity as challah, naan, baguettes and numerous other cultures’ breads were represented. This added true meaning to the idea that all can break bread together. Thus, the dinner (like the evening itself) featured both the differences and similarities of the many members of the Brandeis family.

Rosenthal stated that her goal for the event was to “celebrate the diversity of Brandeis’ culture” and acclimate students new and old to the many traditions at Brandeis. She also explained that while the dinner was rooted in Jewish tradition, pamphlets with various religious terminologies from multiple religions were distributed to attendees.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment at Brandeis Andrew Flagel and Dean of Students Jamele Adams were also in attendance at the event. When discussing the event with The Hoot, Flagel said, “Brandeis, founded so distinctly with Jewish roots as a pluralistic and open community, always feels special to me on Fridays, and perhaps most of all at the start of a new semester. I had a chance to start with that wonderful community dinner hearing from our students and Chaplains with students, new and returning, staying long after the event to gather in groups large and small.” He further added that he hopes that this event will become a long-lasting tradition for our campus community due to its success in showcasing the diverse experiences of the members of our Brandeis family.