Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Photos from: A night of pure Jewish joy and unity

By Natalia Baqueiro Shabbat 1000! Uniting Jewish students! The Pegasus Ballroom was transformed into an elegant, intimate place where hundreds of students, faculty and staff members came together to celebrate Shabbat 1000 on Friday, April 1. For its fourth consecutive year, the traditional Shabbat dinner, hosted by Chabad at UCF, expected to reach hundreds, where Jewish traditions were celebrated with, Shabbat dinner, singing and traditional customs. The evening is true display of Jewish unity with all Jewish groups on campus uniting and take part in this incredible experience. Rabbi Chaim Lipskier, executive director of Chabad at UCF, explained that the holy day of Shabbat is a day to disengage from the daily grind of the week and to be with family and friends. "The Jewish day starts at night, so Friday night is the holy day of Shabbat," Rabbi Lipskier said. "Typically, Jewish people around the world go to synagogue Friday night and pray with the community, and then go home and have a festive dinner with their family. It's a Jewish commandment not to work on the Shabbat; we don't drive, or use electricity. It's a day we spend in prayer, in celebration and with family." Preparation for this event started last year, taking almost six months and around 50 volunteers for it to come alive. "This is an event that many students look forward to all year; there's a lot of excitement around it," Rabbi Lipskier said. Aviel Yashar, president of Chabad Jewish Student Group, said the event wasn't only for Jews, but for anyone who was interested. "It's a huge cultural experience," Yashar said.  "It's informative [and] it's a great way to meet other people and network. It's a lot more than just the religious aspect." Some students were excited about dinner, while others such as Yashar were excited for the impact of this event. "It's important for people to have union, and events like this really harvest that," Yashar said. "It's an incredible thing for all the Jews to get together and celebrate our heritage." Isabel Voskoboynik, an economics freshman, was a first-time attendee. She said she was excited to see UCF had Jewish events, such as Shabbat 1000. Before the Shabbat dinner, Israeli musician Gilad Segev performed live. His performance was followed by Dr. Terri Susan Fine Stenzler, professor of Political Science at UCF and the Chabad Jewish Student Group's adviser sharing a few words, followed by Yashar, and then Rabbi Lipskier welcomed everyone and thanked the sponsors and volunteers. All the tables had candles for women to light and to welcome prosperity and light into their lives, their families' and their community. Rivkie Lipskier, co-director of Chabad at UCF, explained why the candle lighting tradition is so special and important. "Candles are very similar to your soul," she said. "With most physical things, the more you give, the less you have. You can take a flame and light hundreds of candles with it. Each candle gives warmth and light into a room, into life-into whatever it [lights]. Every single one of us have a soul, it's like a fire [with] it's warmth and it's yearning to connect to something higher, to godliness... it's always searching to connect to a higher source, so does your soul. It's always trying to connect to a higher source, to G-dliness and Shabbat is the soul of the week." After the candlelighting and Kiddish, people washed their hands for bread, returned to their tables to enjoy their Shabbat meal filled with singing and good times. Shabbat 1000 was a memorable and uplifting experience and the planning for next years is already under way. Save the date-Friday March 31, 2017 in Pegasus Ballroom. To learn more about Chabad at UCF please visit jewishucf.com! Natalia Baqueiro is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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