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

UCF students honor Parkland victims at Mega Shabbat-Champion of Shabbats


March 30, 2018

Stoneman Douglas High School alumni say the blessing over the challah at the Shabbat of Champions, in honor of the fallen Parkland students and staff.

Five hundred and fifty students, faculty and community members partook in the largest Shabbat dinner ever held at UCF on Feb. 23 in the Pegasus Ballroom. The annual Mega Shabbat was called "Shabbat of Champions," a nod to the undefeated UCF Knights. With many Stoneman Douglas High School alumni in attendance, the event was also a moving tribute to the victims of the tragic Parkland High School shooting, which had taken place just one week prior to Shabbat of Champions.

To honor the victims, the co-director of Chabad at UCF, Rivkie Lipskier, called the Stoneman Douglas High School alumni in attendance to the stage. They observed a moment of silence and then lit Shabbat candles in the memory of the 17 killed. As Lipskier explained, "a candle represents a person's connection to the divine. The wick represents the body, and the flame represents the divine soul. While the bodies can be destroyed, the soul can not."

Lipskier urged those in attendance to tap into their souls and the 17 beautiful souls of the departed as they lit their Shabbat candles, and to take on a mitzvah (good deed) in their memory.

Rabbi Chaim Lipskier, who directs Chabad with his wife Rivkie, then spoke about how moved he was to see the dozens of students from many organizations who had dedicated hundreds of hours to make the event possible.

Becca Coven, president of the Chabad Jewish Student Group then took the stage. "Growing up in a Jewish home, Shabbat is something that I got to look forward to every week, a time to gather around the table with your family and friends and just enjoy the end of your week, and the beginning of your weekend. Looking out at all of you here tonight I couldn't be more proud of the work Chabad has done to put this event together," she said before introducing Dr. Terri Susan Fine, a professor of political science at UCF and Chabad's faculty adviser.

Dr. Fine contrasted the UCF Knights, who's kicker Nader Golshahr was in attendance, to Chabad. "Unlike the champion Knights, Chabad at UCF is not once-in-a-lifetime. Chabad at UCF is here for all of UCF's Jewish students all the time and they are not going anywhere," said FIne.

Following the traditional prayers over wine and bread, a catered kosher meal that included Shabbat staples like challah, gefilte fish, and chicken was served.

"Shabbat is one of the centerpieces of Jewish life, and has been so since the infancy of our nation," said Rabbi Lipskier. "Shabbat of Champions was a chance for Jews from across campus to connect with each other in a meaningful way."

Shabbat of Champions was co-sponsored by Student Government Association, Judaic Studies at UCF, UCF Hillel, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Zeta Beta Tau, Gamma Phi Beta, Knights for Israel, ICC, ZOA, Camera and Stand With Us. For more information about Chabad at UCF please visit jewishucf.com


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