10th annual All Campus Shabbat welcomes Lefton

Jill Byerly

Breanne Robbins and Alyse Rothenberg watch a slide show at the Hillel reception Friday night in the Student Center. The reception was a small get- together before the services and dinner Hillel held to celebrate the Shabbat. JILL KINKUS | DAILY KENT STA

Credit: Jason Hall

“Good Shabbos,” was the most commonly used phrase when members of Northeast Ohio’s Jewish community met in the Student Center to celebrate Kent State Hillel’s 10th annual All Campus Shabbat.

Friday’s All Campus Shabbat was particularly memorable because it gave Hillel, and the rest of the attending guests, the opportunity to officially welcome Kent State President Lester Lefton, who follows the Jewish faith, and his wife, Linda, to the region’s Jewish community.

“This event gives students the opportunity to come together and celebrate Shabbat,” said Kyla Schneider, co-chair for the All Campus Shabbat. “But we are primarily here to welcome Dr. Lefton.”

The event began with a small reception on the third floor of the Student Center. Only the students, faculty and community members who were directly connected with the event were invited. Food and drinks were served while Lefton and board members of Hillel addressed the 40 people in attendance.

“Reaching out to so many other communities, and using Hillel as the means to do so, is a way to repair the world,” Lefton said.

The night continued with Shabbat services in the Governance Chambers. More than 100 people attended and a few of the guests stood in the back of the room. A service booklet was given that included songs and responses to go along with the service. Most of the songs were recited in Hebrew, but their English translations were also printed in the booklet.

“I was getting choked up in the back of the room,” said Jennifer Chestnut, executive director of Hillel. “It was such a historic moment to see this room filled with so many wonderful members of the community.”

The final part of the evening was the Shabbat Dinner. About 200 students, faculty, community members, Hillel board, family and friends attended the dinner. Traditional Jewish dishes such as challah, matzah ball soup and kugel were served.

As the night came to an end, members of Hillel and the Jewish communities officially welcomed Lefton and his wife to Kent State and to northeast Ohio’s Jewish community. Lefton quoted Albert Einstein to end his speech.

“The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice, and the desire for personal independence – these are features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my lucky stars that I belong to it,” Lefton said.

Contact student affairs reporter Jill Byerly at [email protected].