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Student perspectives

Sammy Shabbat

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Shabbat Shalom everyone;

First of all I would like to thank Rabi Zev, Ariella and all the Johnsons for having us here today so we can enjoy another wonderful Shabbat.

 

As a member of Texas Sammy and a member of the Executive Board at Chabad, I welcome and thank every single one of you for coming here today. As you may or may not know, this is the 6th edition of Sammy Shabbat at Chabad ever since 2012, and I am happy to say that we have been able to do this ever since my cousin Jaime and couple of Sammy alumni started this great tradition with Rabbi Zev.

 

For those who don’t know me, my name is Julio Fascowich and I transferred to UT about 2 and half years ago and I will be graduating this coming May. Ever since I moved here, I have always been welcome by everyone, but I would like to give a special mention to Rabbi Zev and Ariella. Both of them have spent long hours making sure that every single student that walks into the Chabad feels welcome and part of the UT family, and that’s exactly how I felt when I first came for a Shabbat.

 

As this could be one of the few times for me to speak in public, which is something that I am actually terrified of, I believe that is important to mention all the great memories and friendships that I am taking from here.

Ever since I joined Chabad, I have always tried to help in every possible way, by helping get a minian on a weekday, set up the house for an event with the rest of the board, or even go get groceries. I am always happy to help, and even after all this, that’s not enough to thank both of our hosts.

 

I know I will still see all of you around this and next semester, but I wanted to acknowledge the great work that the Johnsons do here in Austin. I can’t thank them enough and I hope that both, Chabad and the relationship between Texas Sammy & Chabad, keep growing and hopefully, I will be able to come to a Sammy Shabbat as an Alumni.

 

Chabad is a great organization committed to show, teach and enhance the Jewish identity of every Jew that comes to this great university, undergraduate or graduate student. As we just celebrated Rosh Hashana, I want to wish Shana Tova to all of you and once again, thank the Johnsons for all the great things they have done for us. Lejaim!!

 

Thank you, Shabbat Shalom and please enjoy the rest of the amazing dinner that Ariella cooked for all of us. 

Dvar Torah

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First and foremost, I’d like to thank Rabbi Zev for welcoming Sammy to Chabad Shabbat Services tonight to join his wonderful family in this beautiful home. Chabad here at UT is always a great place for Jewish students to come together for holidays, events, and amazing food!  

Tomorrow marks five years since I was Bar-Mitzvahed back home in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I remember specifically at the end… Rabbi Stern shook my hand and told me “This is The Beginning.” It wasn’t until years later that his words sunk in for me.

It was when my family dropped me off this past August…when my dad shook my hand and told me “This is The Beginning.”

Because that brings me to this week’s Parshah, Bereishit. Bereishit is about Beginning. G‑d created the world in six days. On the first day He made darkness and light. On the second day He forms the heavens. On the third day He sets the boundaries of land and sea. And so on until…  G‑d ceases work on the seventh day, and sanctifies it as a day of rest.

He soon formed the human body from the dust of the earth, a man, and, soon after, a woman, named Adam and Eve respectively. G-d commanded not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But a serpent persuades Eve to violate the command and she shares the forbidden fruit with her husband. Consequently, because of their sin, it is decreed that all gain will come only through struggle and hardship.

The Beginning was difficult. But similarly to how the Beginning demonstrated in Bereishit didn’t seem to go as planned, it is reflective of how our lives may be today. I know that that day in August when my time in Austin had just only begun, it wasn’t easy. I knew a good friend of mine, but that couldn’t make up for the inevitable homesickness I’d later experience. But that’s when Chabad came into the picture. That’s when Sammy came into the picture. I was welcomed with absolute open arms by Rabbi Zev, his family, and the Jewish community here at UT. I joined an incredible brotherhood at Sigma Alpha Mu that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and it’s only been almost 2 and a half months! The support everyone here provides each other means the world to me and is something worthy of acknowledgement. Especially my parents and older brother…even from 1200 miles away, I’m confident they always have my back.

But remember… no one said the beginning was supposed to be easy. The beginning is something new, it’s foreign, it may just be out of your comfort zone. But with the right mindset and the right support, you will be able to get through anything…whether that’s research you want to begin, whether that’s an internship you’re nervous to start or apply for. And what I learned here at UT so far, coming to Chabad, being involved in Sammy, attending class…most of time… is to trust the process, trust the people around you, and trust yourself. Be grateful for where you stand now, but know that wherever you are, it could very well be just a new Beginning.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

 

 

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