The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Monthly Shabbat Program at Belmont University

Vanderbilt Hillel has invested its staff and resources in partnership with Belmont University to provide a monthly Shabbat program. Once a month, Belmont students gather to celebrate Shabbat as a community. In addition to services, Goldie Shepard provides a catered kosher dinner.   

Belmont students plan the monthly themes and this past February they had PJ Shabbat for a casual program experience. Belmont University is known for its art and music programs, and some of the students have changed some of the melodies and prayers to bring something new and personal to the Shabbat service experience. This is a way for Belmont students to express their talents and interests. On average, Belmont has approximately 16 students attending Shabbat services and dinner monthly. In addition, this year, with the support of the Belmont administration, the Jewish students had the first ever Yom Kippur service at Belmont, which over 30 people attended. Because Belmont is a Christian University, students obtain points for their involvement in religious services, so there are several non-Jewish students who come to Jewish services for a different religious experience. 

Belmont University students enjoy monthly Shabbat programming.

Belmont students have a lot of enthusiasm for the monthly Shabbat program, “Belmont Shabbats are the highlights of my week and mean the absolute world to me, because they are the opportunity for me to get together with other students and build a community where we feel safe, uplift each other, share lots in common, and are able to engage in meaningful practices together that we may be missing by being far away from home,” says Daniella Cohen, Belmont, Class of 2026. 

Isabella Cohen, a Junior at Belmont, is proud to be a part of the Shabbat program, “To be able to hold Shabbat services on campus is a dream I did not think I would see come true during my time at Belmont, but I am so glad it did. I appreciate getting to spend the end of the week with fellow Jewish students, celebrating our joys and processing our pain together as a community.” 

Malka Desale, Vanderbilt Hillel’s Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow in charge of Belmont programming, reflected on her time with the Belmont students this year, “I see how the students want a Jewish community, and how important it is to them to build a Jewish group. When I first started, I was a little concerned that I would be the sole Vanderbilt Hillel staff member in charge of this group. I learned quickly that most of the work comes from the students, and that students do it because they miss having a Jewish community and want to meet the other Jewish students. I provide the resources and opportunity, and they do the rest. I never have to push them; they are already motivated. I am so happy working with the students as they plan Jewish events and programs at Belmont, especially the Shabbat program.”  


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