Photos by Hannah Geller
All photos were taken before the start of Shabbos
Over 300 hundred students attended the first ever “Mega Shabbat” dinner at Penn State’s Alumni Hall this past Friday night. The dinner was arranged by the Chabad Student Board, in honor of Yossi Gourarie, OB”M, late father of Chabad of the Undergrads Co-Director, Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, who passed away in April of last year after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.
For every student who attended, Chabad donated $2.00 to THON, a 46 hour student run dance marathon that raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.
Guests included Dr. Eric Barron, President of Penn State University, and his wife Molly, Rabbi Hershy and Miri Gourarie, Co-Directors of Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State, and Rabbi Nosson and Sarah Meretsky, Co- Directors of Chabad at Penn State.
Within six minutes of opening registration, over 100 students confirmed their participation in the “Mega Shabbat” dinner. Chabad of the Undergrads was forced to close registration after just 24 hours, as over 330 students signed up and enthusiastically rallied behind the cause.
Rabbi Gourarie was deeply moved by the outpouring of support from the students. “It is very touching to see the effort put in by so many ‘PSJews’ to honor my father’s memory in such a beautiful way. As we approach the end of the traditional year of mourning, this initiative is a bright ray of light in what has been a difficult year for my family and myself. My father was a loving person who was devoted to his family, to helping others, and to our Jewish faith. It is only fitting that his memory be honored during his favorite time of the week, Shabbat.”
Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State is a place where every Jewish student, regardless of background or affiliation, can feel welcome and accepted. They pride themselves in serving as a warm home-away-from-home for “PSJews,” as frequenters call themselves, providing a wide range of services, programs, and activities.
Dr. Barron recognized this spirit when he addressed the event, “The feeling of unity and togetherness here tonight is unbelievable,” said the university President.
“We honored the memory of Rabbi Hershy’s father by continuing to make strides in bringing Jewish pride to Penn State University,” said Lindsay Wollins, who was involved in planning the event. “At the same time, we supported an appropriate and worthy cause.”
As Rabbi Hershy surveyed the crowd he declared, “My father would have loved to be here tonight and I’m sure he is smiling down and enjoying every moment.”