We Were There: Maroon and Gold Shabbat 2015


Did you hear about the event, Maroon and Gold Shabbat, which happened recently on-campus? Were you one of the 400 people who attended? In case you didn’t, Maroon and Gold Shabbat was a community Shabbat evening put on by Minnesota Hillel. The night started with the Jewish a capella group, The Chai Notes, leading services. Afterwards, leaders in the Jewish community gave some speeches. And finally, the night concluded with a nice dinner. Maroon and Gold Shabbat was the largest Shabbat on-campus in recent memory and the first event of its kind in the past 5-10 years. I had the pleasure of helping plan the event, so let me give you a behind the scenes look from the student perspective.

The idea for Maroon and Gold Shabbat started in late August. This event was the brain child of Hillel’s Executive Director, Benjie Kaplan and Engagement Associate, Justin Held. They envisioned a night where we could show the entire Jewish community just how far Minnesota Hillel would progress in the year to come. Come February we started planning the event – this is where students really took the lead. The committee, which consisted of nine students, me included, began formulating the plan. The nine of us began engaging other students to hype up the event and get their friends excited about Maroon and Gold Shabbat. In addition, we organized a social media push, event giveaways and cemented dinner plans.

Immediately the event caught fire. Within two weeks of the first official announcement, over 200 students had signed up. It didn’t matter if you were involved with Chabad, AEPi, Sammies, SSI or any other organization, Maroon and Gold Shabbat brought everyone together. Hillel brought everyone together. We were able to meet students that represented different Jewish organization and learned that we all have the same goal – creating an awesome community for Jewish students on-campus. Furthermore, many students enjoyed representing Minnesota Hillel in its time of upward transitioning. In my opinion, the most beneficial result of Maroon and Gold Shabbat was that students saw how important their work on-campus is to the greater Jewish community.

Throughout the night, I witnessed students meeting many community members. Students realized that parents, alumni and general community members care for Minnesota Hillel for multiple reasons. Maybe a married couple met at Hillel. Or a Jewish leader began his/her involvement at Hillel. Overall, it was important for students to see that their work is not only important to their fellow students, but also to recent alumni, community leaders and older generations who have passed through the University.

As a student who is very involved in Jewish life on-campus, Maroon and Gold Shabbat really made me proud to be a “Hillite.” Originally we expected 200-250 people to attend our event. The actual number was 422; 286 of the total number were students. If you attended, I want to thank you for making it such a success. If you didn’t come this year, save time for mid-April next year as the 2nd annual Maroon and Gold Shabbat will be bigger and better!

Some photos from the night. (All photos taken from the University of Minnesota Hillel Facebook page.)