Student Blog

New Posts By:
Lauren Pace `12
Michelle Greenberg `12
Professor Lewis Glinert
Rachel Gray `15
David Silver `12
Julie Shabto `14

Thoughts on Jewish Life at Dartmouth

Lauren Pace `12

Judaism has always been a big part of my life. In fact, it’s probably a big part of what got me to Dartmouth. In High School I was a Jewish Extracurricular All-Star; president of my Temple Youth Group, Regional Board Member for the North American Federation of Temple Youth… the list goes on. So by the time I got to college, I have to admit that I was pretty burnt out on the whole Jewish youth community concept. I figured I had gotten what I could out of it in high school, and now that mom and dad weren’t around, why bother with anything more than the perfunctory High Holidays services?


Like most freshmen, I clearly had no idea what I was doing.


Fast-forward to sophomore year. My best friend dragged me to the Chabad house for Shabbat dinner, promising Kosher wine and a solid “Jewish facetime” scene. Of course, after my first Shabbat with Rabbi Grey, his wife Chani, and their four adorable kids, I was hooked. I started getting involved with Jewish life on campus and realized that I had actually missed being part of this type of community… a Jewish community. These were people who got me, who shared my value system and who had grown up with a similar background to mine. I came to find that being Jewish on campus is about so much more than your religious beliefs or your feelings about G-d or the Torah, it’s about connecting to like-minded people and allowing them to enhance and enrich your campus experience, both secular and religious.


Since sophomore year, I have been on Hillel’s Project Preservation trip twice – once as a participant and once as a student leader, I have completed the Sinai Scholars curriculum, and I have attended countless weekly Shabbat dinners at Chabad. But those are just the tangible ways that Jewish life at Dartmouth has made an impact. Perhaps even more importantly, it has allowed me to reconnect with my own roots and learn a lot about myself, while simultaneously connecting me with a community of incredible peers, mentors and friends. Looking back on my four years here, I can say that Jewish life has truly been one of the most integral parts of my Dartmouth experience.


Reflections by a graduating `12


By Michelle Greenberg `12

Chabad has become my home away from home at Dartmouth. Whether attending Passover Seder, participating in Sinai Scholars, or merely meeting Rabs for coffee and conversation on a weekday afternoon, I have realized that Chabad has a continuous and important presence in my Dartmouth experience. My favorite Chabad event is the weekly Shabbat dinners. It is a time for me to get together with some of my best friends and other more peripheral friends that I have met throughout the years on Friday nights, relationships that I have grown to cherish more than I could have ever imagined. The weekly Shabbat dinners are an event that my friends and I truly look forward to and enjoy, even more than a tails event with our favorite fraternity. There is something incredibly special about walking into the Chabad house, being around and feeling the love from familiar faces of both my peers and the Gray family, that makes my homesickness for the Greenberg household in distant New York dissipate. I love delving into Jewish tradition and listening to Rabs‚ opinions and sermons. I love helping Chani prepare the food. I love drinking wine and relaxing with good friends, and of course chowing down on Challah, barley, and everything in between. It is amazing what Chabad does, and my takeaways are tremendous. Celebrating Shabbat at home is a rare occasion as I am reformed Jew who mostly celebrates the more sporadic holidays, but I know celebrating Shabbat is something I will bring home to New York and definitely make a regular thing in my own family in the future. What can I say? My Jewish friends and I look forward to Friday nights for a reason that is way off the beaten path from the average Dartmouth student.

Shabbaton Reflections

Professor Lewis Glinert  

Being with Chabad of Dartmouth as Scholar in Residence for Shabbat  Tazria-Metzora in April 2012 was a dizzying experience -- and an intensely personal one. Looking around at 40+ buzzing students and surveying the Shabbat banquet, regally presided over by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Gray, it was hard to believe that just nine years earlier, almost to the day, my wife and I had sat in our living room with the Grays and pondered how things might pan out if they decided to make their home in the wilderness of Hanover. The tiny condo that they called their first home, in which they raised their first child, and which doubled as the first Chabad House at Dartmouth, could barely fit a dozen students -- but in those early days a dozen students was a miracle.  Their first shul was my own office at the top of Bartlett Hall, and that depended on a miracle of a different kind: On the fact that I have one of the largest, indeed spectacular, offices on campus.


Much has happened in these last breathless nine years. Once again, like the ancient tabernacle in the wilderness, Chabad in its new home at 22a School Street is bursting at the seams.  And today, Chabad at Dartmouth is of national significance. The national Sinai Scholars program, which has brought so many Dartmouth students into their first serious dialogue with the Torah and its values, has taken an exciting new turn at Dartmouth. In 2008 Rabbi Gray and I proposed holding an annual symposium at which Sinai Scholars could present original papers on Judaism in the modern world, with senior Jewish Studies scholars acting as a jury and discussants. We are now already planning the fifth of these symposia in April 2013, G-d willing.  


But back to the present. My visit, as a Scholar-in-Residence, centered on scholarship. What a magical way to usher in Shabbat. For 45 minutes, I had the challenge of taking Dartmouth's Sinai Scholars through two famous Talmudic ethical dilemmas, concerning the choice of "Who shall live and who shall die?'  In the one case, the enemy had besieged the Jewish city of Lod and were demanding that a named individual be extradited to face a possible death penalty -- or else the city would be razed. May one (should one?) give him up? And what if this were not a judicial demand but rather a demand that some Jew -- any Jew -- be given up to an anti-Semitic enemy?  In the other case, even more famous, two travelers are in the desert and one of them is holding enough water for one of them to make it to safety. Who, if anyone, should drink the water?


Later, at the meal, more learning (Isn't that the essence of a Shabbat meal?)  Rabbi Gray taught a fascinating devar torah -- and then I delivered my own. My subject -- close to my own field of linguistics:  Language as a weapon and the risk to Jews today of anti-Zionist communications campaigns. 


One of the greatest gifts that Chasidism has given the World is the Seuda Shlishit, the third Sabbath meal -- traditionally a humble affair, as the day winds down,  just as one starts to sense the week's worries drawing in.  This is when the Chasidim spin yarns and sing wistful songs. A spiritual high. But not a time to which most Dartmouth students sync their hectic lives.  But this Shabbat was different. Rabbi Gray's Sinai Scholars gathered again, the fare was as mouth-watering as ever,  and I delivered my third shiur (Torah class), on the Creation of Woman, not from man's rib, as the popular imagination has it, but as one side split off by G-d from the bisexual first human, so that each might feel wholeness when joined in a secure relationship -- and Woman's role as 'ezer', avant-garde and sentinel to her family and to her husband against the slings and arrows of the world.  

Sinai Scholars Field Trip Reflections

Rachel Gray `15 

                                    A Day in Montreal

  This past weekend a group of us from the Sinai Scholars class went to Montreal to visit a girl’s seminary school, see a mikvah, and of course go to a kosher pizza and falafel restaurant appropriately named Pita Pizza. I spent a grand total of 7 hours in car, squished in the middle between two upperclassmen (I am a freshman and therefore have no say in where I sit), to do about 4 hours worth of activities (2 of those activities revolved around eating). After 7 hours in that car, I still had no complaints.

      The day in Montreal was truly awesome for a variety of reasons. I think my favorite part was seeing Rabbi Gray with his family. During class Rabbi is not necessarily serious, but he is first and foremost a teacher. He engages us in discussion about the 10 commandments and shares his extensive knowledge of the Torah with the class. In Montreal, however, I saw Rabbi Gray as a father and husband, revealing him in a different light. His kids are adorable and seeing Rabbi and Chani interact with them really just made appreciate the beauty of a family. Rabbi Gray also seemed totally in his element with his family, and because of that I felt more at ease than when I am in the classroom (that isn’t to say that I am a mess in class – class is actually quite enjoyable).

            I also really enjoyed learning about the mikvah and listening to Rabbi New discuss the act of not touching other women. When Rabbi Nu told us that by not touching women other than his wife, he was able to engage in purely intellectual relationships with other women, I thought, “He is so right!” I find that touch between sexes always complicates matters and blurs the lines between being friends and more than friends. His take on reasons for not touching other women was refreshing and gave an explanation to a cultural practice I never quite understood. With regards to the mikvah, although I do not know whether I would or could even be able to take part in the practice of using a mikvah and leaving my husband for a period of days, it definitely made sense. What I found inspiring about Rabbi New’s talk was learning how important marriage is to the Jewish faith.

            A lot of the trip also consisted of me learning reasons for and clarifying misconceptions I had regarding certain cultural practices. I appreciated learning about the kosher laws and the reasons behind them. I also really enjoyed talking with the girls at the seminary about marriage. I was relieved to learn that being set up on a date did not necessarily mean you had to marry each other and that an “arranged marriage” did not imply an “against your will” marriage. It was also interesting to compare my experience with boys with the seminary girls’ experience with boys. I do not think I would enjoy being in a seminary, but to a certain extent I found myself thinking that these girls knew how to date. In my experience, girls generally date for marriage while boys (at least in college) do not. People in college and I think throughout life enter relationships with aspirations different from their partner’s. I feel that the partnerships of these girls could be more successful because there is an explicit and intended goal for dating each other that we do not necessarily acknowledge when dating in our society.

Overall, the trip to Montreal was a really fun. Spending that much time in a confined space with people lends itself to making friends. After having gone to Montreal, I feel more comfortable in the classroom because I now consider most of the students as friends in addition to peers. 

Sinai Scholars Reflections

David Silver `12 

Shabbat dinner with the Sinai Scholars group was a good start to the field trip weekend. Our discussion with Professor Glinnert was very engaging and provoked some difficult questions about when, if ever, it is permissible to kill under Jewish law. The answers are often complicated, but the discussions shine light on these difficult cases. Closing Shabbat with dinner on Saturday night was also enjoyable, with another interesting talk by Professor Glinnert about the creation of woman.

Our field trip to Montreal was a good experience to get off campus with other Sinai Scholar students and see certain Jewish practices that are not readily available in a small town like Hanover. I enjoyed learning about the mikvah and those practices in an engaging talk by Rabbi Nu (spelling?). The visit to the Yeshiva was also very interesting and gave a window into the lives of students receiving a Jewish education. Lunch and dinner were great bonding times with the other Sinai Scholars, as well as the long drives to and from Montreal. The only complaint about the day was that we spent roughly the same amount of time in the car as in Montreal, but that may be the only option given our location in rural New Hampshire.

Jewish Life at Dartmouth

 By Julie Shabto '14

When I first came to Dartmouth, I did not know what to expect from Jewish life on campus. Coming from a town with a significant Jewish population, I wasn’t sure how I felt about attending a school with a smaller Jewish community. Judaism has always been a big part of my life. At home, my family belongs to a reform synagogue; we are not extremely observant, but we do have consistent Shabbat dinners, eat kosher meat, celebrate all the Jewish holidays and attend synagogue on high holidays. I became a Bat Mitzvah and continued my formal Jewish education through Confimation.

During my junior year of high school, when I visited Dartmouth for the first time, my mom insisted that we see the Hillel. I knew that a Jewish establishment existed at Dartmouth, but honestly, at the time, I wasn’t thinking about how I would spend the Jewish holidays on campus. As an incoming freshman when I had to fill out “religious preference,” I learned that there was Chabad at Dartmouth. I didn’t check off Chabad, because I thought Chabad was geared for ultra-orthodox Jews and I had heard primarily negative stereotypes about the Chabad community at large.

Shortly after arriving on campus, my trip leader from First-Year DOC trips invited me to attend Shabbat dinner at the Chabad house. I was excited about the invite to an event where I could meet other Jews on campus, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t so psyched that it was a “Chabad” event. Yet, I put my preconceived notions aside and went to Shabbat dinner.

Looking back, I can say without reservation that deciding to go to Chabad freshman fall was one of the best decisions I made that year. At my first Shabbat dinner, not only did I learn that Jews of all levels of observance are part of the Chabad community at Dartmouth but also I realized how important it is to have a close-knit, Jewish community away from home, for me. I also now recognize that feeling comfortable talking to Rabbi Gray and Chani about anything that is going on in my life is incredibly valuable.

After countless Shabbat dinners, participating in Sinai Scholars last spring, and now as a member of the Chabad board, I am proud to say that Jewish life at Dartmouth is strong and growing and I am lucky to be a part of it. I have met some of my closest friends through Chabad, and I introduced other friends to Chabad so that they too can be part of this strong Jewish community on campus.

For me, Judaism is about tradition and community. Chabad is a community where I feel welcome and supported, and celebrating Shabbat each week and Jewish holidays with friends is a tradition that has certainly enriched my experience at Dartmouth

My thoughts on Joe Paterno and Abraham

 Thoughts on Joe Paterno and Abraham

What happened in Happy Valley this week-- the shocking end to one of the most storied careers in all of sport-- deserves our attention.  As a Rabbi who interacts daily with our nation’s future leaders, what lesson can I impart, what can we learn from this tragic story?

Anyone who follows sports knows that a head coach gets very little of the glory when his team succeeds and all the blame when it fails. It is no surprise that the man in the middle of the saga at Penn State is Joe Paterno. He is not the man who committed the crime, nor is he the one who witnessed the crime. Reports made their way up the food chain at Penn State and the university’s president seems to have been held accountable. The perpetrator himself has been arrested. Has not justice been served? Why then is Joe Paterno in the middle of this?

This week’s Torah portion tells a strange story of Abraham arguing with the Almighty about the fate of Sedom and Gemorah; towns filled with people so sinful in the eyes of God that He chose to utterly destroy them.

Abraham, however, comes to the defense of these people. “Will You even destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham asks. This question is understood by the commentators to be “harsh words” “diber kashot.” Abraham is challenging the rational basis for G-d’s decision and is doing so in with something of an attitude.

How could it be that Abraham our forefather, the man who God identifies as the “Abraham who loves me,” and the man who personifies love and kindness would talk to God in such a manner?  At the very least, shouldn’t he have tread lightly, started with positive words and then moved on to stronger language?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe understands the lesson here clearly: when it comes to saving a life, physically or spiritually, we must to do everything in our power to push aside our natural inclinations, to depart from our comfort zone and to speak harsh words; to do what is right, even when it challenges the will of God Almighty. Abraham refused to believe that a whole city was deserving of this fate and-- at the expense of his own relationship with the most important being in his world--he was going to do everything in his power to fight it.

Joe Paterno had a chance; a moment to do the right thing. It would have been devastatingly uncomfortable and, yes, he would have been forced to betray his friend, risking the loss of a deeply valued relationship. He would have endured many sleepless nights as a consequence but he would have been undeniably right in doing so. Instead he chose to pass the buck and not get his hands dirty; he may have felt that he wanted to keep his friendship intact, who knows.  What is clear is he made the wrong choice, he lacked the moral fortitude to do justice. He chose to hide in his comfort zone and instead of turning in his friend, he chose to betray young innocent boys. We’ll never know how many more sleepless nights he’ll now have to endure.

It is our duty and responsibility to know what is right and to stand up for our moral convictions. Abraham teaches us and gives us the strength to honor this duty at all costs. In the face of this responsibility--and when the cost to our personal comforts is all that’s at stake-- the price is almost always worth paying.

Paul Lazarows off term


June 30, 2011

This spring I had the privilege of interning for the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) San Francisco office. At Dartmouth College, our academic schedule allows us to explore off-campus opportunities and take terms to study-abroad or attain work experience. Chabad is my Jewish home up here in northern New England and during my off-term I desperately missed Shabbat dinners full of Chani's delicious challah and gefilte fish (and of course the occasional prime rib).

Recent times have brought an array of challenges and opportunities to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. During my time at AJC, among other tasks and responsibilities, I helped engage in Jewish diplomacy with the Egyptian, Chilean, and Brazilian consulates. I had the honor to attend AJC's Global Forum, a young leadership program focusing on countering attacks on Israel's legitimacy, AIPAC's annual policy conference, and a briefing by Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on foreign policy challenges for Israel.

Jewish diplomacy is extremely important in this day and age. In San Francisco an anti-circumcision ballot initiative poses a threat to religious freedom. It's crucial for such initiatives to fail.

Just down the street from AJC's downtown office, Chabad of SF parks the Chabad Cable Car for daily afternoon minyan. It's quite an experience to pray on a cable car next to the famous piers of San Francisco.

Dartmouth College's Rockefeller Center for Public Policy funded a portion of my time at AJC. At Dartmouth College, the opportunities truly are endless and varied.

I enjoyed my time back home in the Bay Area, but I can't wait to be back in Rabbi Gray's home enjoying Shabbat dinner with all of my friends.

Paul Lazarow

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