New Students FAQ
Interested in Joining Us For Shabbat?
Please contact our VP Shabbat Andrew Adler, at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can find you a host!
- What are the kosher food options on/near campus?
The Upper West Side of Manhattan also has a wide variety of food options, from take-out Chinese (a favorite of many Columbia/Barnard students) to several pizza stores and sit-down restaurants. Click here for a listing of local food options.
Shabbat food is provided on Friday night and Shabbat morning by Hewitt Dining Services. Students must sign up during the week in order to eat in Hewitt on Shabbat.
- How is Shabbat celebrated on campus?
Friday night at the Kraft center is at its liveliest, with Koach (Columbia/Barnard’s Conservative group), Kesher (Columbia/Barnard’s Reform group), and Yavneh all running prayer services. After Shabbat dinner, many students re-congregate at Kraft for Friday Night Hangout, learning in the Beit Midrash, and sometimes a “Shiur by your Peer.”
On Shabbat morning, davening is followed by kiddush, lunch in the dining hall or individual suites, mincha, and seudah shlishit. At seudah shlishit students from Koach and Yavneh join together to sing and share divrei Torah. Shabbat ends with an energetic havdallah.
Shabbat meals on campus are run and brought to life by a special Shabbat Meals Committee, made up of students who make sure that the meals run smoothly and are fun and welcoming for all students who wish to join.
Yavneh also hosts scholars in residence and other speakers on Shabatot over the course of the semester, and they always enhance Shabbat by bringing Torah and new ideas to our community.
Shabbat is often the best time for community building on campus. It is a time when students can come together, meet each other, socialize and learn together, and have a good time while feeling that all of their social and ritual needs are met, whatever those may be.
- Is there an eruv? How do we check if it is up?
- How do we get into dorms on Shabbat?
In general, on Barnard’s campus, Barnard students can leave their IDs in bins at the security desk and use them to get in and out of the building by showing them to the guards. The official policy is that guests need to be signed in and out each time they enter or leave a Barnard dorm. The Barnard guards are very accommodating and will happily sign in any Columbia student or visitor who comes with an ID.
On Columbia’s campus you can sign up to be on the Shabbat list so that you do not have to carry your ID with you on Shabbat. To get into a Columbia dorm, the guard confirms that you are on the list. Guests can sign in but if they are not carrying IDs, the guards are generally accommodating.
- Are there communal meals/minyanim on the holidays?
In general, Yavneh does not run tefliot or meals on the yamim tovim of Pesach, but there is kosher for Pesach food on campus for chol hamoed. Yamim tovim of Sukkot are also generally not celebrated on campus, but multiple sukkot are put up on campus during the holiday.
Before most holidays, the gabbaim will determine the degree of interest in minyanim and will help to organize them should there be a need. Local students are always very gracious in bringing their friends who don’t have places to stay into their homes.
- Where can I get the different ritual objects that are needed on the holidays (e.g. lulav and etrog, chanukiah, etc.)?
There are also local Judaica stores that are easily accessible from Columbia (Westside Judaica, is on 90th st., just slightly south of Columbia) that provide all of these things.
- Can I make up classes, assignments and exams if they fall on a holiday?
- What are the Jewish educational opportunities available on campus?
Beit Midrash Committee runs all sorts of shiurim throughout the year, and this includes both weekly shiurim (see the “Education” page) and one-time speakers. Yavneh Education brings in scholars-in-residence for Shabbatot and other speakers throughout the year.
One of the most beloved education programs at the Kraft Center is Wednesday Night Learning Program (WNLP), at which all types of students come together to learn Jewish texts with a partner or in a group, socialize, and eat.
Also weekly is the “Shiur by Your Peer,” an opportunity for students to research and teach about Jewish topics that interest them.
Students are always encouraged to run their own shiurim and push for educational programming that they are interested, and speakers are often excited about coming to speak to our community (including Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks!)
- What are some typical social events that occur in a semester?
- Do most students choose to live with a Jewish roommate? If not, what considerations should one take?
- What are some typical charity events/ opportunities that occur in a semester?
Need a Roommate?
If you need help finding a roommate for your first year at Columbia or Barnard that keeps Shabbat, fill out this form and we'll do our best to set you up with others who are also looking. If you have any questions, feel free to email email@example.com.