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Every school has some sort Student Activity Fair, where every group on campus sets up a table and tries to get people to sign up for their listserv or come to their events. At most colleges, Hillel, Chabad, and any other Jewish/kiruv organization will likely have tables, trying to get people to sign up for their listservs or come to their events. But I bet there are lots of Jews who aren't interested in any of those - but who might be interested in you. In Shani, Daniel, Mikey, Tova, Chaim. And in coming to YOUR shabbat dinner, and sharing in YOUR experiences and YOUR community. These fairs are also great places to find people looking to get involved in something, or just to find and talk to people you wouldn't/couldn't otherwise meet.


[edit] Here's what to do

[edit] Sign Up

  • Find out when the Fall or Spring student activity fair
  • Find out if you have to sign up to get a table, and when the deadline is.
  • If you need to be a student group, either:
    • Become a student group (that might take some time)
    • Ask another student group if you can sign up under their name
    • Just sneak a table in the day of

[edit] The Table

  • (If they don't provide you with one,) Get a table
  • Nice (white) tablecloth
  • Challah, challah board, challah cover (only partially cover the challah so people can still see, and perhaps take a piece of, the challah)
  • Nice, tall candlesticks and candles (if possible and permissible, lighting them would be cool)
  • Bottle of grape juice and filled kiddush cup
  • Little shot glasses of grape juice
    • That's something you can give people who come by, which is always a great strategy (necessary, but not sufficient)
  • (Along similar lines) rugelach on a plate
  • A signup sheet and pens - label the columns with "Name", "Year", "Email" (write in the first few, so it looks populated)
  • A sign at the foot of the table that says something about Shabbat (e.g. "HELLO, MY NAME IS SHABBAT")

[edit] At the fair

  • Stand there and smile
  • If people hesitate, or start coming over, or stare for a few seconds, say something ("Hey there!", "Want a shot of grape juice?")
  • People will probably come over - talk to them, see if they're interested in coming to student-led Shabbat dinners around campus (free), and let them sign up
  • If they ask "What is this??", answer "Well, it's a Shabbat table". If they ask "What student group are you from?", answer "Actually, we're just a bunch of students inviting other students to Shabbat dinners - in our dorms, around campus, wherever, whenever". If they say "Woah!! How do I sign up??", have them write their name and email on the sheet of paper :)
  • Make shifts so a) you're not standing there for 4 hours and b) so other people get in on the fun and c) so you distribute the meeting of new people

[edit] After the fair

  • Email everyone saying something like "It was really nice to meet you at the NSO fair earlier today/this week, and hopefully we'll be able to share a Shabbat meal sometime soon. [The next few weekends coincide with the High Holidays so making meals those weeks might be a bit difficult. But don't worry - ] stay tuned for invites in the near future and/or let us know when you want to come!"
    • Use a mail merge, so it seems personal (it'll come out as "Hey Josh, It was really nice to meet you...")
  • Invite them a few weeks/months later saying "Hey Josh, you signed up at the activity fair and we're having a Shabbat dinner this week etc."
  • Better idea: Find each person on facebook and see which insiders/H2Hers are friends with them. Then speak to or email that insider/H2H and say "Hey David, did you know that your friend Josh wants to come to Shabbat dinner?" And David will be like "No way, I didn't even realize Josh was Jewish! Or that he cared about Shabbat! I'll totally invite him next week when I make a H2H meal!"

[edit] Goals

  • Find more uninvolved Jews to come to Shabbat dinners
    • While the best way is through genuine personal connections, this allows you to find people who wouldn't otherwise have been reached.
    • And by using the FB friend trick, that allows you to keep the personal touch.
    • It couldn't hurt to augment the people you were already planning on inviting
  • Get people excited about H2H - religious freshmen, religious upperclassmen, people who'd been to a meal once, etc.
  • Gets the people running the table really excited and empowered about H2H!
  • Adds people to a database you keep of uninvolved Jews, should you ever want to email them about something else (e.g. H2H Pesach Seders)
  • Makes for great promotional pictures!


If you need money for anything (kiddush cups, shot glasses, candles, grape juice, tableclothes, a sign), all you have to do is ask - we have plenty of funding for just this.

[edit] Other Tips

  • Non-Jews: there's something uniquely Jewish about Jews and Shabbat, and probably something only they are looking for. But we love all people and every encounter is a chance for a kiddush Hashem? So maybe don't email them, or maybe you want to, or maybe wait and see if they reach out to you?
  • Filter out the Hillel regulars - they don't need to be invited to your meals, but they should be HOSTING H2H meals!!
  • You can do it even not during the student activity fair, like on a random Thursday during the week!
  • What if someone who's not so Jewishly involved / doesn't keep kosher wants to host a meal? Should I be worried about that? How do you handle that situation sensitively?
    • In some ways, it could be good thing: a) that they're excited enough to host a Shabbat dinner and b) because they might have wider networks and know more uninvolved Jews to invite than people in the Orthodox community.
    • So you probably want to validate their interest ("That's totally awesome that you want to host a Shabbat dinner!") as well as delineate the guidelines respectfully ("Just to let you know, we're trying to make sure that all the meals are kosher"). Logical reasons for that (even for non-observant Jews) could be to allow everyone--including students who keep kosher--to come, and because part of having a traditional Shabbat dinner is it being kosher.
    • Also keep in mind the sensitivity of the issue - like some students might think they keep kosher/kosher-style, or might really want to make it themselves in their own kitchen...
    • Some options are: offering to pair them up with other students (who do keep kosher) and could host the meal and cook with them, letting them cook in someone's kosher kitchen (that whole process could be really fun and meaningful for everyone), catering the food (or at least some things), or if in the end some meals aren't going to be cooked kosher than just making sure that's clear to everyone.
    • My guess is that if you make it relatively easy and do it respectfully, you won't get students saying "No! I want to serve non-kosher!". And in general, better to include more people - so having a sign-up sheet and perhaps getting people like this who want to host is probably a good thing :)
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