In the main room of Shabbos House on Fuller Road, several UAlbany students set up long tables and cover them with tablecloths for the last Friday evening meal that will be served in the house.
Students move a sofa outside to make room for all the people who are coming to dinner. There is a family atmosphere — the house is the home of Rabbi Mendel and Raizy Rubin and their six children, Mushky, 12, Chani, 11, Moshe, 9, Sara, 6, Bassie, 4, and Bluma, seven months.
On many Friday nights throughout the year, Raizy makes 24 loaves of gefilte fish, 10 lbs of pasta salad, and 80 lbs. of chicken. When she makes kugel, a staple of Eastern European Jewish cuisine, it’s with 50 lbs. of potatoes.
Everyone is welcome — there is no need to R.S.V.P. — so when 180 students showed up for dinner instead of the 100 who were expected, a way is found to make the food stretch.
On Sunday, the Shabbos House Chabad Jewish Student Center moves into a new building at 320 Fuller Road. A ribbon-cutting and opening day dedication will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program will conclude with the transfer of the Torah from the old building to the new site.
Shabbos House works cooperatively with UAlbany Hillel, hosting Friday night dinner and services every other Friday night. Shabbos House attracts many Jewish students on campus as the place to have a home-cooked meal and to connect to a smaller community with the traditions of home.
Jenna Newlander, a junior psychology and Judaic Studies major from Fayetteville, N.Y., heard about Shabbos House at Hillel dinners.
“Mendel and Raizy remember everyone’s name after the first time you meet them,” said Newlander, who is vice president of the student group L’Chaim. L’Chaim works with Shabbos House to plan Shabbat and holiday celebrations.
“My Dad and I visited ahead of time and found such a warm atmosphere [at Shabbos House],” said Lauren Rosenblatt of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., a sophomore majoring in social welfare. “When I came back, everyone remembered me from the one dinner I went to and now they are my main group of friends.”
Steven Berkowitz, a junior accounting major from Bellmore, N.Y., who is alsoStudent Associationcomptroller, said he heard about Shabbos House from friends his freshman year. “I felt so welcome, I just kept coming back,” he said. “It’s really a second home. It is a good place for a good meal.”
Now that Berkowitz is cooking for himself at Empire Commons, the idea of enjoying a home-cooked meal is even more appealing.
The new house cost $1.5 million and was built with contributions from private donations plus a $500,000 loan from First Niagara Bank. George and Pamela Rohr of New York City gave the center naming gift. Major supporters include Norman and Micki Massry and Morris and Esther Massry. The main room was sponsored by Jack and Sanford Rosenblum and families. Many individuals, both alumni and parents, contributed as well.