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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Chalutzim offers lox of food and friendships

For those unfamiliar with Chalutzim, it is the primary group on campus focused on the needs of Grinnell’s Jewish community. In the first month of school alone, Chalutzim has celebrated four major Jewish events: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. However, this past year there have been many changes that expanded Chalutzim’s role within the broader Grinnell community.

Jordan Taitel and Sarah Farbman (both ’15) are the new co-leaders of Chalutzim, as of last year and have cultivated fresh insight and enthusiasm for the group. As a result, Chalutzim has been energetically reaching out to the campus far more than in past years. Events such as Friday night Shabbat Table and monthly Lox ‘n Bagel Brunch are seeing higher attendance than ever before.

“With a new rabbi and new leadership we’ve seen a lot of growth in the number of people coming to stuff and a lot more enthusiasm for events,” Farbman explained.

Shabbat Table 9-2013 (1)
Friday night Shabbat table draws in a huge group of students and community members.
Photo contributed.

The new rabbi is Robert Cabelli, who has helped create a new culture within the group, despite only being the official rabbi on campus for just over a year. Rabbi Cabelli, or “Rabbi Rob” as he is frequently called, serves as both the mentor of Chalutzim and Associate Chaplain of the campus.

The word “Chalutzim” itself is Hebrew for “pioneer”—a clear connection between Grinnell’s values and ideology and Jewish culture and beliefs. One way Chalutzim has lived up to this label is through its outreach towards other cultures on campus, something that has been enacted especially under this year’s new management.

“Chalutzim is very open to seeing itself as a vehicle for Jewish students to find enrichment in and to explore their Jewish history, but also a vehicle for anyone who wants to learn about or experience the culture,” Rabbi Cabelli said.

Chalutzim currently plans to work with Grinnell’s Oxfam America Club for World Food Day and to join forces with Student Organization of Latinos/Latinas to plan a Mexican Shabbat Table day. These collaborations are examples of the group’s efforts to engage and learn from the many different groups and cultures here on campus.

Although this year, members of Chalutzim are striving for the inclusion and intermingling of all cultures, they also stress that appreciation of Jewish culture will always be at the heart of this group. One way the group plans to unite the two is through Shabbat Table.

Shabbat Table meets every Friday at 6:30 p.m., and members of Chalutzim volunteer to prepare a meal for the community while reciting prayers over candles. This year, student members of Chalutzim have complete control over what dishes to cook but ensure that their food is vegetarian/vegan and to include gluten-free options whenever possible.

Each week has a different theme for the cuisine but traditional Jewish challah bread is always served.  This year, Shabbat table has received an unprecedented number of attendees.

“One challenge with the large number of individuals coming is making sure that Shabbat Table, for example, is not just a meal but the creation of a sanctuary—a place to feel a little bit elevated and have a strong sense of community,” Rabbi Cabelli explained.

Everyone involved appreciates the safe space that Chalutzim provides for its student members to explore their Jewish identity and engage with others who may or may not have similar beliefs.  This notion of community resonates throughout the group, including regular attendee and cook Eli Green ’16.

“I feel very comfortable within Chalutzim, as it provides a space where I can be outwardly Jewish in a way that I find meaningful and enjoyable,” Green said.

Chalutzim’s next Lox ‘n Bagel Brunch is this Sunday, Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. in JRC 209.  Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come.

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