Looking back, there were quite a few new and special things at Shabbos House UAlbany in the year 2014. Here’s a list of 8 new things, in no particular order:

(1) SHABBATON Our first time ever to host a regional Chabad on Campus Shabbaton, with guests from ten campuses, one-armed IDF soldier Izzy Ezagui spoke on Friday Night, our first ever musical Havdalah (which we have continued on occasion) and the Upbeat, Uplift, Upstate! theme. It was a big logistical undertaking for our students, who came through with flying colors, and overall a most meaningful and memorable weekend. See the Shabbaton Album of FB or here in the photo galleries on our website.

(2) BABY RIVKA was born in July 2014. She’s our 8th. Here’s why we named her Rivka. By the time students left for winter break she was much more alert, cooing and reaching, and quite friendly to the many students who held her – especially Melissa G who has some kind of magic with her.

(3) SUNDAY TALMUD The weekly Talmud class began on Sundays of Fall 2014, just after the Minyan Brunch. We learned 3+ pages of Talmud, did a bunch of review worksheets to better grasp the concepts and arguments, and have 2 more Talmud pages to finish in Spring 2015 to complete the 4th chapter of Talmud Brachos. Here’s what our first Sunday Talmud class looked like.

(4) DECEMBER GRADUATION WKND We never had a December Graduation Weekend Shabbat and Sunday Brunch before, but this was an exceptional large group of involved students graduating in December. A “Minyan” of at least ten active regulars moved on this December, we’re going to miss them a lot and look forward to see which students will step up. In case you missed it here was our “14” Table Set-Up and the lessons from (number) ’14.

(5) ALTERNATE PARENTS WKND It’s always a pleasure to welcome parents on Homecoming Weekend. This year it fell over the 3-day holiday of Sukkot, so some students and parents asked to set-up an alternate Parents Weekend. We did, and it was beautiful, with at least ten families on the Alternate Weekend and many more over Homecoming Weekend. Here are some warm thoughts shared by parents at lunch of the Alternate Parents Weekend

(6) LAW & ORDER CLASS We also started a new “Law and Order” class (changing it from the original Y-Factor title) that takes 15 minutes each Shabbos to discuss a Jewish law or observance, the background issues and modern application. During the early Fridays its 6-6:15pm before Kabbalat Shabbat prayers. Still quite new, we’ll see how it works out!

(7) MUSHKY IN ISRAEL Fall 2014 was the first semester since we came to Shabbos House in 1997 that our eldest daughter Mushky wasn’t here and part of the action. She graduated HS last May (another first for 2014, our first HS graduate) and is spending 2014-2015 studying in Tzfat Israel. We hear from here all the time, she’s learning a lot, meeting new friends and having a blast getting around Israel when she can.

(8) BURN THE MORTGAGE IN 2015 In the last days of 2014 we got word from major Shabbos House donors that they are eager to pay up and close the building debt by the end of 2015 and made a commitment to match Shabbos House donors $150K to pay down the remaining $300K. We hope 2015 will be the year the building finally gets paid for, so all contributions can go directly to Shabbos House Operating and programs, with much less overhead cost. Those who’d like to divide their contribution between 2014 and 2015 are welcome to do in these last days of 2014.

Plus the usual, of course! Looking forward to more in 2015!