A Shabbat at University of Oregon

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by Josh Gidanian

On February 26, we took a trip to Eugene, Oregon to get to know some college students over Shabbat. Despite a long drive in rainy weather, everyone was in good spirits and happy to go to Eugene to get to know some college students

Friday was a wonderful night of prayers and lighting Shabbat candles at Hillel. The best part of services was recognizing all of the tunes- they really took me back to my USY years. After services, we ate a meal with the Hillel students, which included some delicious garlic bread challah. During dinner, we had a chance to talk to the Hillel students about life at a university. We learned about their majors (there were a lot of political science majors!), life on campus, and all of the different places that they were from. Shabbat dinners back at the bayit in Portland are usually small, but the one at Hillel was alive, awake, and enthusiastic. It was nice to have a change of pace as we welcomed in Shabbat.

After dinner, some of us took a stroll across campus, where we enjoyed the scenery of University of Oregon.  The most interesting part of University of Oregon is the cemetery on campus. It was kind of creepy at night, but is a cool quirk of the school. We also explored the gym- it had a climbing wall. Overall, the campus was very interesting. The buildings looked like they had been there for a long time, and it was great to have a chance to explore. Some of us visited the Akiva House. Everybody was very welcoming as we sat down and listened to stories.

After visiting with everyone at Akiva, we went back to Hillel. University of Oregon Hillel generously let us stay at their house Friday night so all of the tivnuniks were able to spend Friday night together. Saturday morning we had some free time, so a group of us walked around campus and downtown Eugene. Downtown Eugene was very lively and full of interesting people and shops. We visited a shop that had fair trade products, that were mostly made from recycled goods. After exploring a bit more, we went back to Akiva for lunch. Lunch was lively and interacive. Akiva was hosting a Shabbaton and we were able to get to know the students studying with Rabbi Jack. We sat down where we had some prayer, food, and laughs. We had some cholent that I’m still thinking about- it was so good! During lunch they had homemade challah with an oniony taste- everything was really delicious and amazing.

After lunch, we had some free time. I took a walk and explored a bit more of Eugene- all of the houses were really beautiful. Afterwards, we came back together and studied together.  After studying some we ate even more food. There were bagels, lox, salmon, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it all. During dinner, we were able to talk to some students, who again were mostly political science majors. It was great getting to know new people and have such a good time. After dinner, we cleaned up and got ready for Havdalah.

Everyone stood in a circle and we were filmed on Havdalah.com (which yes, is a real thing!) Havdalah was really nice- after the ceremony was over we all danced together. After gathering all over our things and sharing our thank yous and goodbyes, we gathered back into the van and drove away from Eugene and back to Portland. It was a very good weekend.

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