Shabbat in Roanoke Laura Wiseman '16

As we walked in through the doors of Beth Israel Synagogue in Roanoke, we were instantly greeted by the warm hospitality of Rabbi Werbin, his family, and the congregation. Branching out from W&L Hillel's small (but mighty) community is always an exciting and highly-anticipated event for us, but this Shabbat proved to be more than an ambassadorial excursion for our Hillel's reputation. We set out for Beth Israel on November 8th in preparation to gain new connections and have a unique Shabbat experience.

As the ambiance within the Synagogue became warmer and busier, we ushered ourselves into the sanctuary and marveled at the stunning décor, in between conversations with fellow Jewish students from colleges throughout Virginia. Although we expected the night to be entertaining, we never expected to end up
dancing around the sanctuary, singing, clapping, snapping, and cheering. Rabbi Werbin's words and charisma unified us all as Jewish students sharing Shabbat with one another, regardless of where we were from, how confident we were in our Hebrew, or which mascot we cheered for at varsity games. We were no longer estranged from one another but were immediately given a level ground and the perfect icebreaker.

After the energizing and uplifting service, we danced our way into the dining hall where conversation, challah, and good food filled the room. The experience of getting to talk to Jewish students from other schools in Virginia gave us a pleasant reminder of how strong and unified we are, and how lucky we are to have such a giving and supportive community. I can't wait for next year!