Shabbat goes virtual with Hillel’s a virtual candle lighting
Sofia Rositani – Reporter
The Hillel Jewish Student Organization has been hosting a “Virtual Shabbat Candle Lighting” Friday evenings to celebrate the Shabbat. According to Rabbi Barbara Paris, this event is open to all religions and for those who may be interested in learning about Judaism.
The virtual Shabbat candle lighting has been every Friday for the last three weeks. The traditions that surround Shabbat start with the lighting of two candles with a blessing they say over the candles, then Kiddush, which is a blessing over wine or a grape juice, and lastly they bless a Hallah, a special, sweet braided bread. On Fridays there is a special prayer service for Shabbat which is called “Kabbalat Shabbat,” or in English “Welcoming the Shabbat.”
The Shabbat is a very special day for those in the Jewish community and because of that everything is specialized for that day like the wine or grape juice, and the Hallah, or braided sweet bread.
“Everything is elevated to make the day a little more special,” said Paris.
The Shabbat was created in Judaism to begin their resting period, as is said in the Bible.
“In the Bible it says that God created the world in six days,” Paris said. “So that seventh day is the Sabbath and for Jewish people it starts that Friday at sundown and goes until Saturday at sundown so it’s a whole day of rest.”
Though Paris has been at Southern for a year she has been an integral part of the Hillel Jewish Student Organization. She has taken over as the role of their adviser.
“They have had different tries in getting Hillel started but it kind of sizzled so this is the first they have brought a rabbi in and my goal is to get it going and to be present,” Paris said.
Paris also said she wants to create a connection at Southern where students will come to her to hang out, learn more about the religion and language. As of now Paris has been teaching students how to read Hebrew through small Zoom courses.
Hillel’s Vice President Samantha Foggle said they welcome everybody who is interested in learning about Judaism or is just interested in attending their events.
“Shabbat is a time for people to rest and experience the awe and wonder of the world,” said Foggle.
She also said they usually get two or three people in the virtual candle lightings and they are always open to students who are interested in learning about Judaism. As of now though they have not had students of any other denominations join the Zoom event.
“It’s really just a nice time because it’s really a spiritual thing,” Foggle said. “It’s really a time to connect with ourselves and reflect on our week and be at peace.”
Foggle said it is a bit difficult to be religious on campus. Many people on campus are not interested in exploring religions so it makes it harder for Hillel, being a religious organization, to get people to join. Because there are not a lot of Jewish students, they have a harder time gaining members.
“There are a lot of, Jewish especially, who don’t really want that experience of going through the prayers. They just want to meet other Jews, they want to connect with other people,” said Foggle. “So, what we are trying to do is balance being a religious organization with making sure our events are not solely
focused around prayers and things that might scare off people who may not have the most religious upbringing.”