At the induction ceremony for the Abbe Center for Jewish Life, Director Lorinda Weinstock quoted “Ethics of the Sages,” saying, “Know from where you came and to where you are going.” Last fall, Weinstock established the student-led Lunch and Learn program to help students explore both the past and present state of the entire Jewish community.
“It is a very welcoming environment for students to get away from campus life for awhile,” says Weinstock.
The program provides students with an opportunity to take time out of their hectic lives to relax with friends or get to know new people. Andrea Rocchio ’11, one of the early participants in the program, says, “We talk, we eat, we exchange stories. It is a nice break from classes.”
Meetings are held in the Abbe Center for Jewish Life at noon on Wednesdays, and lunch generally consists of leftovers from the increasingly popular Kosher Shabbat Dinners (which are also held at the Abbe Center) on Friday nights. Emily Hamburger ’13 points out, in addition to companionship, the program provides students who keep kosher all week another kosher meal, which can sometimes be difficult to find on a college campus.
In the past, the group has begun the semester by deciding on a general topic to explore and discuss as a group. Last year, the group discussed Jewish communities around the world and American-Jewish life. In about an hour’s time, they looked at maps, read important documents, watched movies and, of course, shared a kosher meal.
“It is eye-opening to hear your friends, you thought you knew well, have all of these hidden connections through family and friends within the Jewish community. We were able to set the ‘topic’ of the discussions and we agreed on Jewish-American culture. From this simple start, we began to piece together our own histories and see how similar and contrasting we are,” explains Rocchio.
The group is open to all, no matter what cultural or religious background, and Weinstock encourages those outside the Jewish faith to come and explore.
“It is a good way to learn and share in an informal setting, yet with a sense of respect for one another. We all come from different places, but we all create one story,” Rocchio says.