By: Elliot Heller  | 

New Minyan, Coffee and Tea, and Free Meals: Shabbat at Wilf Gets a Makeover

The 2016-2017 school year is well underway, and several changes to the Shabbat programming on the Wilf campus are as well. Members of the SOY student council (Student Organization of Yeshiva, the body in charge of religious activities on campus) are hoping that new initiatives, as well as some minor tweaks to existing programming, will cause the familiar question “Are you in for shabbos?” to be answered with a confident “Yes!” .

In addition to the previously existing Shabbat morning minyan options on campus, on the Shabbat of December 2nd, a new, student-led “community minyan” will begin to operate on campus. Ten months in the making, the minyan will be held in the Klein Beit Midrash, beginning at 9:00 am. The goal of the new minyan is to create an opportunity for students to be placed at the forefront of the religious atmosphere that fits their needs. In addition to facilitating the regular minyan operations, the minyan’s board of students will focus on creating new initiatives and programming based on student input to meet this goal. “There are a lot of minyanim on campus, but it’s hard to find a minyan where people say ‘this is my minyan,’” explained Dovid Simpser ’18, vice president of SOY, who co-founded the minyan along with SOY president Shua Brick ’17 and IBC Vice President Aryeh Laufer ’19. “We’re hoping to create a real community feel; something that people will truly look forward to as a way of enhancing their Shabbos experience.”

The idea for the minyan was inspired by the tremendous success of the Friday Night Carlebach Minyan, which as recently as last week was forced to move locations from the Klein Beit Midrash due to an overwhelming number of attendees. “We hope to have a meaningful davening that has nice, inspiring singing, while still going at a reasonable pace that will keep people engaged,” said Simpser.

The minyan will be preceded by a student-led chaburah at 8:45, and followed by its own special kiddush, sponsored by SOY. Rabbis Matt LeVee and Benny Rofeh will serve as strong religious personas to enhance the minyan with their warmth and guidance. As a “community minyan”,  there will be a focus on making enough room for both the men and the women who would like to attend, and to make sure that everyone’s needs are met.

The changes to Shabbat on campus don’t end there. “Club Shabbatot,” where individual clubs are called upon to give divrei torah and run programming relating to their club’s theme, will occur next semester on the Wilf campus, after many years of proven success on the Beren campus. Another new addition to Shabbat is the hot water machine that will be present in the Morgenstern Lounge throughout Shabbat offering tea and coffee to all who want.

And finally, as possibly the most unprecedented Shabbat initiative that campus has ever seen, on the Shabbat of December 23rd-24th, which is also the Shabbat of reading week and Erev Chanukah, SOY will be sponsoring Shabbat for all interested students. This means that Shabbat meals in the cafeteria will be FREE! As the whole campus comes together for Shabbat, along with Dean of Undergraduate Torah Studies Rabbi Menachem Penner and “The Mashpia”, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, the Shabbat is set to be a true opportunity for inspiration and community building for all.

“When I came to SOY, making shabbos something people can connect to was a big goal of mine,” said Simpser. “If this [free] Shabbos is a success we might be able to do similar things in the future. We want people to feel like ‘this is my Shabbos, this is my campus.’” Overall, the changes share a common theme: making Shabbat more exciting and engaging for everyone on campus.