Members of the Chabad Jewish Student Group bake—and break—bread together.

As a high school senior applying to colleges, Lauren Ksido didn't give much thought to the importance of extracurricular activities and avenues through which she could connect with others outside of the classroom.

Now a junior majoring in biology, she considers herself “very lucky” to have chosen Adelphi.

A commuter student from Brooklyn, New York, Ksido soon discovered that there is “a lot of Jewish life on campus.” She said that being able to share her culture and traditions with other students enriches her college experience and that she’s “grateful to have Chabad at Adelphi.”

Through the Chabad Jewish Student Group, established in 2013, Ksido has found camaraderie, comfort and community. Now serving as president of the club, she describes it as “a welcoming and vibrant environment” that develops kinship among Jewish students and facilitates understanding among other campus organizations. Members range from nonpracticing Jews to those who are somewhat or strictly observant.

Weekly meetings and other events—including Shabbat (Friday evening) dinners, Hanukkah, Passover and Purim events, challah bakes, and pickle making—provide opportunities for students to explore and share their Jewish heritage. Other offerings, such as a recent self-defense workshop and community service projects at a local nursing home and with disadvantaged individuals, are also offered. Ksido said every effort is made to schedule activities at various times during the day and evening to ensure students with different class and work schedules can participate.

Home Away From Home

Club members also enjoy a home away from home at the fieldstone-clad Chabad House, which is within walking distance of the Garden City campus; it’s one of 260 Chabad on Campus houses in the United States affiliated with the Chabad Lubavitch movement. There, Rabbi Yankel Lipsker and his wife, Mushkie, provide a warm and inviting atmosphere so students can drop by to study, relax and engage with others. Ksido said the couple “does so much to support students,” especially those living away from home.

“These are challenging times,” said Lipsker. “We provide a safe, nonjudgmental, nonthreatening environment in which Adelphi students can explore their Jewish identity.”

He added, “The world can be a pretty lonely place. Students call us with crises big and small, and we’re always here to help.”

There’s also homemade chicken soup when a student falls ill. Lipsker estimates that 70 percent of the students they serve are Reform or unaffiliated Jews. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “All are welcome to join us.”

Celebrate and Explore

For Niv Rozenholtz, a business major who plays guard for the Panthers basketball team, Chabad provides a “sense of family.” An international student from Israel, he transferred to Adelphi after a year at a university in Texas. He said that time, “without a single Shabbat dinner or holiday meal or shared prayer,” was very difficult.

“Chabad really makes me feel like I’m home, even though my parents and siblings are far away,” he said. “I encourage Jewish students to go to one event, one dinner, and you’ll see it with your own eyes. I’ve never seen such a welcoming and supportive program.”

Elizabeth Turcotte-Zeesman, a nursing major from Long Island, New York, also finds tremendous comfort in sharing Judaism with others on campus. Unable to fully practice her faith while growing up, Turcotte-Zeesman took advantage of the Sinai Scholars Society program, an eight-week course offered by Chabad every semester to help students explore their heritage. Sixteen students will graduate from the program this semester.

Ksido urges students to connect with the club. “It’s a great way to meet people, learn, have fun and share Jewish traditions in a safe and welcoming environment.

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