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Chaplains' Office Stories

Shabbat together

I’ve been celebrating Shabbat since I was a child with friends and my local Jewish Community Center. Since I’m Roman Catholic, celebrating Shabbat has always meant that someone opened their home and their table to me, and this last Friday night was the most meaningful expression of that tradition thus far. The Chaplains’ Office and Hillel here at CC put on a special Shabbat service in Palmer that was attended by about forty students. The tables were beautifully decorated with tapestries, collections of candles and paper plates decorated with red, orange and yellow tulips. I arrived in advance to set up, following the direction of a Jewish student to get everything in its proper place.

Once people started arriving we were tasked to find someone we knew very well and learn something new about them and then find someone we knew not at all and learn their favorite Shabbat memory. This way, I told my great friend Helen for the first time about how I was writing a children’s book (something I can be very shy about, so kudos to this event for revealing it!) and then found a classmate from my current class, with whom I shared stories about my childhood Shabbats and heard about his experiences with Shabbat in Jerusalem. When we sat down for dinner I ended up at a table half with people I didn’t know and with some of my closest friends at CC. Though I didn’t know all the prayers when the lights were off and the blessings began I truly felt closer to God and thankful for the the opportunity to open a day of rest in my life. After the blessings over the food we ate a lovely meal!

My favorite part of the event was the way I saw so many students lead the dinner, from leading a blessing of the Inner Child to leading and teaching songs and prayers and candle lighting. I felt as if I could stay in the space for hours just talking and singing with those gathered. My favorite song of the night was an old favorite of mine: Lord Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary. It was a first for me this time, however, because we sang in Aramaic.

As I get closer to graduating from Colorado College, this Shabbat dinner was a reminder to me of all the things I love and value about the CC and the Spiritual Life Community and what I will look for in a community when I leave: inclusivity, kindness, sharing and participating. As I said before and at the dinner, sitting down to a Shabbat dinner means to me that someone has welcomed me to celebrate their tradition with them. I really feel honored and grateful to have shared Friday night with the Jewish community at CC.

Megan Salazar