Rained Out Club Fair Was Scheduled on Jewish Holiday of Sukkot
Sometimes Not Only Rain Dampers Celebrations
by Kingsman’s Melanie Goldberg
Many clubs and students were prevented from participating in all the extra-curricular activities that Brooklyn College has to offer when the college’s staff set the date of their Welcome Back Bash and Club Fair on Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Religious restrictions surrounding this holiday prevented Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn College students from traveling to and attending classes; therefore they could not have attended the club fair this past Tuesday. Due to rainy conditions though, the fair was cancelled and the bash was held indoors. “We didn’t have the Jewish holiday calendar when we decided this date,” said Roy Becker, Assistant Director of Campus Programs. “We did apologize. But it was beyond our control.”
Due to the permits necessary to throw the bash, Becker elaborated, and because of the lack of funding that forced both events to be held together, they could not possibly hold it at another date.
“The clubs are on campus so we can switch the date on them easily,” he said. “But the people who come for the bash, they have other schedules to stick to.”
However, many Jewish members of the campus community found the lack of concern for their holidays disconcerting. “It was not fair to the tapestry of multiculturalism that is Brooklyn College,” said a clearly upset Rabbi Reuven Boshnack, coordinator of the Jewish Learning Initiative (JLIC) at Brooklyn College. Religious club leaders also objected to the decision. “I really felt like the student government didn’t care,” David Fruchter, treasurer of the Orthodox Club added. Fruchter explained that although his club had the opportunity to reach out to freshman and transfer students at the Resource Fair earlier this year, the date of the Welcome Back Bash prevented them from reaching out to other members on campus.
“It also prevented us from forming alliances with other clubs so that we’d be able to coordinate events,” Norma Chabbot, a member of the Israel Club said. “I feel like I really missed out, being unable to see the other clubs Brooklyn College has to offer. I felt like it was a form of discrimination.” Nadya Drukker, Executive Director of Hillel, said that she had actively tried to change the date of the club fair, but it was no use. “The only answer they kept giving me was that since there were so many Jewish holidays in September, they couldn’t make it any earlier, nor could they hold it any later,” she said, visibly frustrated. “The fact is, I wanted all the Jewish clubs to have a great opportunity to gain exposure and allow for the Jewish kids on campus to recognize what’s available to them.”
According to Drukker, this is not the first time Brooklyn College has held events that prevent certain students from attending them. She hopes that in the future they will heed to the needs of the entire student body and not just the majority. Christina Haney, Assistant Director of Student Activities, said she hopes for the same. “Really, we waited until we saw classes on a Tuesday, since Thursday isn’t considered a common hour anymore and we can’t make noise,” she explained. “It’s the Welcome Bash and in October, it’s really not welcoming back anyone anymore. Next year we won’t have this problem because the holidays will be earlier and on different days.” Because of the rain on Tuesday, however, the date of the Club Fair will now allow for all to participate, as the upcoming rain date on October 16th falls after the Jewish holiday season. As for the Welcome Back Bash, Orthodox Jewish Students just hope to be able to attend next year.
“God had other plans clearly,” President of the Orthodox Club Gabriella Goldberg joked. “We’re just happy we’ll be able to feature our club to the entire student body, and be able to see the other clubs as well. We just wanted a fair shot.”