Reflecting on our Catholic-Jewish Shabbat Dinner
Students from the Catholic Student Center joined members of the Hillel community at a recent Shabbat dinner on Friday, February 27, 2015. Below are some reflections on the experience:
I really enjoyed this past Shabbat dinner. The warm curiosity and excitement of the Catholic students to interact with Jewish students and to experience Shabbat dinner was palpable. Without a structured dialogue format or even suggested discussion questions, I and the others at my table naturally engaged in friendly and meaningful conversation. We discussed our religious practices, holidays, and beliefs, our classes and lives as Rutgers students, and more. Long after many of the Shabbat dinner attendees left, several tables of Jews and Catholics remained, still talking and laughing together. This relaxed yet energizing, joyous atmosphere, one of connection and interesting conversation, is one of the things I look forward to most about Shabbat. The way in which the presence of the Catholic students amplified this atmosphere with their excitement and curiosity was incredible, and representative of a taste of what I see as an ideal of interfaith interaction — an ideal in which interaction between different religious groups mutually enhances the individual religious experiences of the participants. For me, the Catholic-Jewish Shabbat dinner also provided a forum to get to know my fellow Jewish attendees better in a unique way, through bouncing ideas off of each other as we searched for ways to best explain our religion and experiences to the Catholic students. Also, it allowed me to meet other Jewish students whom I had never met before largely because without the presence of special guests, I tend to sit with people I already know at Shabbat dinner. Overall, this was a terrific experience!
– Gilana Levavi, Class of 2018, member of the Rutgers Hillel Jewish community
I thought it was a fun experience. I got to interact with people of a different culture and understand the meaning of what they do. I also met some new friends and hung out with some old ones and it was just a very loving and peaceful experience. Inter-religious dialogue will definitely bring the world closer together and help all of us understand one another.
– David Jordan, Class of 2018, member of Catholic Student Association
Going to the Shabbat dinner was such an amazing experience because it was so cool to see two religions come together and enjoy a meal together. I loved learning about the Jewish culture and religion more. Also, after talking with many people, I really got to see how unique each person’s individual beliefs were about Judaism. Overall, it was such a fun night filled with a lot of food and fellowship.
– Melanie Blaszczak, Class of 2015, member of Catholic Student Association