The University of Arizona's Hillel Foundation will hold a special "Pride Shabbat" over Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 25. The event will consist of a short service followed by breakout room discussions covering a myriad of topics related to the LGBTQ+ community.
Shabbat is a spiritually significant day of rest in Judaism observed on Friday. UA Hillel generally welcomes in Shabbat with a community dinner and candle lighting. However, since last semester, they have pivoted to hosting the dinners via Zoom in what Hillel Assistant Director Abbii Cook referred to as “Zinners.”
Students can register to pick up a free Shabbat bag including candles and a meal so they can enjoy the full experience online. For the Pride Shabbat, dinner will be provided by local Tucson restaurant Lovin' Spoonfuls.
According to Cook, Hillel has done pride Shabbats in the past, but this will be the first one held over Zoom. The event is a collaboration with JPride and the Jewish Community Center and will be open to the Tucson community.
Attendees will first observe a short student-led service. Then, they will enter one of six breakout rooms. Each breakout room will be devoted to a different topic including what it means to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ and Jewish identities, how to be a supportive ally and Israeli LGBTQ+ history. There will also be Kahoot! trivia and a room for open discussion.
“We want people to feel proud of who they are and feel comfortable coming and speaking up. We also want people to have deeper conversations,” Cook said. “[We realize] that not every student who’s coming is going to identify as LGBTQ+, but it is important for them to be a part of those conversations.”
Student intern Jennalee Wilson is the leader of Hillel’s new LGBTQ+ micro-community and helped organize the event.
“I really hope people use the discussions to their advantage and use this as a safe place to maybe figure out their identities or how to be that ally,” Wilson said.
Wilson emphasized the importance of the Pride Shabbat given that, while she grew up in a very accepting Jewish community, there are others who feel that their Jewish and LGBTQ+ identities are in conflict.
“I think this event will really help show … [you can] be who you are openly and proudly,” Wilson said. “You can be Jewish, you can be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. You can have all these different groups you belong to. You don’t have to pick one or the other.”
Both Wilson and Cook hope students will view Hillel as a community in which they can find inclusivity, diversity and acceptance this Tucson Pride month.
“At Hillel it is important to us that we are welcoming to everyone. We want students to feel like they have a place on campus where they belong, however they identify,” Cook said.
Follow Hillary Schiff on Twitter