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BU holds Nation's Largest Student Shabbat Dinner

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VESTAL, N.Y. -

Celebrating the Jewish Sabbath of Shabbat, Friday, Binghamton University's Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life (Chabad) invited between 1700-1800 students and faculty for a massive coming-together, one of the nation's largest gathering of Hebrew students, known as Shabbat 1800 dinner.

Led by Chabad leaders and their guests, celebrators enjoyed a selection of Kosher meals, singing, dancing, and prayer. But Shabbat, according to event coordinators, is so much more than a holiday celebration. 

"You can really feel the energy in the [Event Center].These people are looking forward to a great evening...they're hanging out and having a great time," said Cole Tobias, Chabad Coordinator.

The BU Shabbat Dinner began in 1994, welcoming a few hundred guests of all different faiths, and over the years it nearly quadrupled in size. One person attending the event today said he has been coming to the dinner for years, first as a student and now as a faculty member, and he is always surprised to see the level of comradery the event has brought to the Binghamton University campus. 

"It used to be Shabbat 500 now it's Shabbat 1800. And being on the other side of the table as a faculty member, it's very nice to see the amazing work Chabad is doing," said Bryan Kirschen.

As the dinner continued, Jewish women, one by one, lit ceremonial candles 18 minutes before sunset (single women light one; married light two), used to represent the bringing of peace, by adding light and warmth to a world that sometimes feels dark and cold. While lighting the candles, a prayer was spoken, granting the acceptance of Shabbat (Sabbath day of rest). It's a beautiful ceremony that have many people thanking BU and Chabad for putting on the dinner.

"The fact that 1800 people can come here, regardless of their religion, is amazing," said Jessica Ortsman, Binghamton University student.