Trinity’s JSA-Hillel holds Shabbat service


The Jewish Student Association is Trinity’s branch of Hillel, an international organization that develops Jewish student groups on college campuses. File photo

The Jewish Students Association-Hillel (JSA-Hillel) has organized a Shabbat service open to all of campus to educate non-Jewish students, as well as encourage unity on campus.

Shabbat is the observation of the Sabbath, which starts every Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday at sundown. There is no strict way of celebrating Shabbat; it is the day of the week meant for rest and reflection. JSA-Hillel will hold this celebration of Shabbat on Jan. 19 in Parker Chapel, with a dinner following the service in the Fiesta Room from 6–9 p.m.

Ashley Lachterman, a junior business administration major and the co-president of JSA-Hillel, explained the importance of having a service open to the whole campus.

“We want to welcome everyone who’s curious,” Lachterman wrote in an email interview. “We didn’t want to make going to services seem intimidating. I think it’s important to have a Jewish religious service on campus because I walk around and hear about all the amazing opportunities for these other religious and cultural organizations who are hosting their events, but the Jewish community wants to be represented, too.”

Lachterman was responsible for making sure the logistics of the service would work on campus, along with the other co-president of Trinity’s JSA-Hillel, Grace Cline.

“This has never been done before, so we essentially started from scratch,” Lachterman wrote. “From coordinating the dinner, organizing the prayer books to be handed out for the service and planning on actually leading the service, there’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes we’ve done. It’s difficult because Hillel San Antonio is a cross-campus organization, so most of our events are hosted off campus. We wanted to utilize Trinity’s resources for this Shabbat in particular as a part of our ‘welcome week’ for school starting back up.”

Cline, a sophomore psychology and religion double major, spent some of her time preparing for the event writing the English explanations for prayers.

“This service, much like most Shabbat services, will feature a lot of music in both English and Hebrew,” Cline wrote in an email interview. “My hope is that people will see Shabbat as beautiful, relaxing and uplifting. We have been wanting to do a Shabbat on campus for a while now. This is just the first time we’re having it at Trinity, to invite Jews and non-Jews alike to come together in community and learn from each other.”

Ruth Lavenda, a senior psychology major, was also helped to organize the logistics of the event with Lachterman and Cline. Lavenda has planned a d’var, a talk on topics related to the weekly Torah portion, for the celebration of Shabbat.

Lavenda also commented on the anti-Semitic Patriot Front flyers that were distributed throughout campus late last semester, explaining that the Shabbat is not necessarily a reaction to that.

“We, as an organization, disapprove and are disappointed that flyers supporting white supremacy were put up at the end of last semester,” Lavenda wrote. “We have been wanting to host a Shabbat on campus for a long time regardless, so this is not a reaction to that.”

Lachterman, Cline and Lavenda all expressed their hope that the Shabbat service will be educational and welcoming for all who are interested. For more information about JSA-Hillel or to get involved, contact Natalie Steiner at [email protected].