Obviously, we don’t see parents of students here all that often, but their presence and involvement is very much felt through all they impart and implanted in their children via nature and nurture, character and values, as well as through their generous financial and moral support of Shabbos House programs and events and Jewish life at UAlbany.
It’s helpful to meet parents as early in the college experience, we meet many as propective or accepted students, some later on for Homecoming Weekend over the years, and still others only at Graduation Weekend. It’s fascinating for us to recognize parent and children similarities, and to see where and from whom students get certain traits from…
Parents are always welcome to visit, just make sure your children are OK with it, too 😉 Over the years we have enjoyed wonderfully memorable times with visiting parents, be it for a Shabbat, a Holiday or a special occasion. Some parents have even been back to visit after their child’s graduation from UAlbany. The most common times for parents to come up are Homecoming/Family Weekend and Graduation Weekend, but plenty of parents have visited on other occasions.
See our Visitors page with HOTEL/MOTEL INFO adjacent to the UAlbany Main Campus. We do have limited guest rooms at Shabbos House depending on availability, especially for families with young children. Please call ahead as its usually first come first serve.
Almost always on a weekend in October, that’s filled with special events for returning alumni and visiting families of students. As Shabbos House Chabad and UAlbany Hillel have an alternating Friday Dinner schedule, Shabbat Dinner this weekend will either be at Shabbos House or with UAlbany Hillel in the Campus Center. As Shabbat Lunch is always at Shabbos House, the same goes for this weekend as well. Some students go out with their families when they come to visit, but it makes it very special and meaningful for all of us, when we spend this Shabbat together as a large Jewish campus family and parents get to experience what their children do here on Friday Nights.
Shabbos House Chabad hosts 3 events for graduating seniors each year:
Grad Party is a highly anticipated annual event held (almost always) on the Sunday before Graduation Weekend, which is always Mothers Day. Each student is recognized for their involvement and contributions to Jewish life, students who excelled in their dedication recieve special awards, there’s a Roast prepared by students, a Memories slideshow, a featured guest speaker, and a group Class picture. Parents don’t usually attend, as parents of seniors will be coming up the following weekend.
Graduation Shabbat. Many of the departmental graduations are scheduled for some time on Saturday, so parents and families are welcome for any of the prayer services and/or Shabbat meals. Some come for the entire Shabbat. Most students have already left, so it’s a special Shabbat with seniors and their families. For those who have department graduation ceremonies during a meal-time (say Saturday Lunch) please feel free to come by later on, we’ll be here and happy to see and serve you all afternoon.
Graduation Day BBQ is a longstanding tradition. It’s an open-house event, beginning after the Main Commencement ceremonies. People come and go all afternoon. It usually runs from 11am-4pm, and its a full-course BBQ spread complete with salads and desserts, plus a good time for some nice photos and last farewells, though we never really say goodbye, because we hope to keep in touch!
A WEEKEND OR OCCASION OF YOUR CHOICE
As mentioned above, parents are welcome to come for any weekend of the year. Some parents have come up to celebrate with us their sons’ Bar-Mitzvah anniversaries, or to be at a Torah-Tuesday class presented by their child, or in combination with a ski-weekend or family trip.
PARENTS SUPPORT & SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Please Note: Shabbos House receives no direct funding from the University (aside for L’chaim student group) nor from Chabad on Campus, or Chabad International, aside for specific occasional grants. The ongoing operation of Shabbos House is ONLY possible thanks to continued support from alumni, parents, and friends. We count on parents to help make this wonderful experience, community and home away from home possible for their children and other students.
Shabbat Dinner for 120-180 students costs far beyond $500, (even $5pp is well over $1,000) but that’s the official sponsorship for Friday Night at Shabbos House, as this is amount is a significant sum that’s more accessible to more parents and alumni.
Shabbat Lunch, which has grown to 35-65 students attending each week has sponsorship set at $250. Shabbat Lunch is a smaller crowd, more relaxed and a little more intimate than Friday Night dinners.
All Shabbat Sponsors are listed on the table-card each week, and it can be dedicated in honor of a student, in memory of a loved one etc. The same goes for holiday dinners and lunches, as on Sukkot or Passover.
Sometimes, if there is no Shabbat sponsor that week, we take recent contributors of $180+ and list them as a group of sponsors.
Many other weekly or special events can be sponsored and dedicated as well. The weekly Minyan Bagel Brunch, Torah-Tuesdays, Jam Nights etc. Featured speakers and entertainers (aside for local or parent talent) can be a considerable cost and are only done with specific sponsorships or grants.
The new Shabbos House was built with tremendous grassroots generous support from parents, students, alumni and friends. While we are greatly appreciative of the mega gifts, most Building Fund contributions were in the $500-$1,800 range, and that’s how this beautiful Shabbos House Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center was built. But we still have outstanding debt towards the building cost which weighs on our Operating Budget. Parents who have not yet contributed to the Building Fund in the past are encouraged to consider making a one-time or over-time contribution that will help us chip away at the remaining building debt. One of the major donors to the building often offers a matching gift, dollar for dollar, so your Building Fund contribution can be double the Mitzvah!
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE?
We love to celebrate birthdays, it doesn’t get stale, even in college years. Students appreciate being remembered, thought-of and recognized. But we are not prophets, and aside for Facebook notifications or student tip-offs, we don’t always know whose birthday is coming up that week. Parents can help us out!
We usually make a homemade cake for birthdays, but if parents want something more elaborate, we order from a local Kosher bakery, usually a half-sheet cake costs about $50.
BAR-MITZVAH ANNIVERSARY KIDDUSH
It’s become more of a tradition now for students who are regular or semi-regular at our Shabbat Minyan to celebrate their Bar-Mitzvah anniversaries with us. They usually but not always read some of the Torah or the Haftorah, and we make a mid-prayer celebratory “Kiddush Club” with everyone present making a (non-alcoholic) toast, with dips and treatsbefore we go read the Torah. We sometimes do the same for birthdays as well, contact us for more details.
EXTRA CARE NEEDS
We pride ourselves in being a “home away from home” and really try our utmost to care for each and every student that comes through our doors to the extent we can. But if there is something we ought to be aware of, or if there’s something we can be helpful with, please let us know!
NOT FEELING WELL? NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO?
If your child is under the weather, upset about something, or needs someone to talk to, please have them be in touch with us. You can tip us off, so we can be aware, but its best that it come from them.
We live here right on-site at the Shabbos House, have been on campus since 1997, have experience with listening/comforting/advising hundreds of students over the years. We also know our limits and will refer to the University Health Center/The UAlbany Counseling Center and private professional counseling etc as appropriate.
RESPECT STUDENT PRIVACY & INDEPENDENCE
It’s great to hear from parents, and these are your kids, but we don’t want to be stuck between parents and children. We run a low-pressure, non-intimidating, and welcoming student center. We can’t be parental proxies or enforcers. This is an important time and space for teens and young adults to mature in their independence and personal growth, so we respect and value their privacy and independence and take cues from their initiative.
Over the years we have had parents share their interests and expertise with our students. One mom recently retired from an accomplished Air Force career, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, Moms who helped us prepare a speciality ethnic Shabbat in our kitchen, parents who spoke to the students about their line of work or volunteering experiences.