High Holidays with Chabad at UCF
The University of Central Florida is the second largest university in the nation with the largest Jewish student population. So how is a clueless Jewish boy like myself supposed to find his way around the High Holidays? The answer is quite simple, and that is Chabad. Chabad is, as many students say, "a home away from home," and that stands to be very true during the Jewish holidays, where they offer accommodation for any student who wants to observe the holiday. Sure enough, Chabad saw approximately 1500 students attend their services throughout the festive month.
I have been a student at UCF for about two years, and throughout my time here I have been a part of many services that Chabad has offered, including the 250 students that attended the first night of Rosh Hashanah this year. The sweetest part was not the apples dipped in honey, but the amazing experience of sharing the welcoming in of the Jewish New Year with my fellow students. Additionally, many students attended the Shofar service, and those who couldn't make it to the service were able to come anytime throughout the day.
After Rosh Hashanah comes everyone's favorite holiday, Yom Kippur. Now, Yom Kippur has always been a dreadful holiday for me for the obvious reason of not being able to eat. But I just have to say that Chabad has made this holiday meaningful and inspirational. In the past Chabad has held Yom Kippur services at their home. However, this year, the demand for a bigger location came with the influx of Jewish students who wanted to spend their holiday with Chabad. In response, Chabad held Yom Kippur services at the DoubleTree by Hilton on University Blvd., where students were able to rent rooms for an low price if they wanted to sleep over, or walk over to observe the holiday. The switch from a home to a hotel goes to show how the UCF Jewish community continues to grow.
Moving further into the High Holidays, Chabad, with the help of the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, erected a sukkah big enough to accommodate the many students that wanted to spend holiday meals there. Throughout the holiday of Sukkot, Chabad held events such as "Subs in the Sukkah" and "Sushi in the Sukkah." Not only was the food delicious (as always), but the turnout was incredible. It is always amazing to spend time with friends, eating great food, talking about Judasim and bonding under the sukkah. During the intermediate days Chabad had their pedi sukkah on campus. For those who don't know what a pedi sukkah is, it is a sukkah on a bike! Hundreds of students did the blessing on the lulav on esrog on campus!
I think I speak for most of the Chabad goers when I say that Simchat Torah is an amazing time. Once again Chabad held their annual Simchat Torah party where students dance with the Torah and have an all-around great time. They also offered a buffet of various foods like kosher chili and cocktail hotdogs.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful organization. I also want to give a huge thanks to the two people that work day in and day out, not only to take care of their wonderful children, but to also make sure that UCF students have somewhere to go in order to carry on their Jewish heritage: Rabbi Chaim and Rivkie Lipskier are my parents at my "home away from home."
For more information about Chabad at UCF please visit http://www.jewishucf.com.