The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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A Poly Shabbat To Remember

Noah Saivetz

This past Friday, March 1, parents of the Jewish Historically Underrepresented Group (HUGs) at Poly organized Poly Prep’s first school-wide Shabbat dinner, which was held on Poly’s Dyker Heights campus. Every family of the Poly community was invited to join a buffet-style dinner while learning about Shabbat, commonly known as the “day of rest,” and about some Jewish Shabbat traditions.

Following Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, an idea sparked among parents in the Jewish HUGs group that a Shabbat dinner should be held to promote a sense of togetherness and community among families at Poly. Negar Treister, one of the parents involved in the dinner, shared that, “We noticed that a lot of private schools in New York City after October 7 started hosting Shabbat dinners. We spoke with other leaders of other schools who said how nice it was for them to have those events to build community… and we saw that there was a lot of interest in doing something similar at Poly Prep.” 

Interest in a community-based Shabbat dinner ranged from Poly’s lower school families to the upper school families. Finding a space to host such a large dinner, limited the number of people who could actually attend the event. About 225 people attended the dinner, including faculty and administration, and the event took place “in Commons, which had a capacity of just over 200 people,” said Treister. She adds the Shabbat dinner was paid for exclusively with funds raised by the Poly HUGs group. Food was catered from the 2nd Avenue Deli, a Jewish deli located in Manhattan, as well as some platters from Hummus Kitchen. 

The Jewish HUGs team was on a time crunch, as they only “got permission before Christmas break to throw [the dinner] at the school,” said Julie Cohen, another HUGs parent. 

There were many factors that went into organizing this event. From the “ideas for decor,” said Treister, to the many papers hung around Commons– created by students of the Jewish Caucus DEIB discussion groups – representing the Jewish religion and Shabbat, all the parts came together to make Commons into a decorated and welcoming sanctuary. 

Lauren Smetana, one of the parents of the HUGs group, commended Chef Lou for his contributions. In addition to the food catered from outside restaurants, Chef Lou prepared some of the platters at the dinner, such as brownies, cookies, and fruit.

In addition to the desserts prepared by Chef Lou, Jen Sable, another Poly parent, contributed to the dinner by supplying decorated bags with an assortment of candies, chocolate-dipped pretzels, and rice krispies. 

Many found the Shabbat dinner to be a major success, and hope the event will continue as a Poly tradition. “I would love to see this be an annual event. And I’d also personally love to see all the HUGs groups and all the people who aren’t part of HUGs groups come together in this way to celebrate each other’s cultures and religions,” said Treister. 

Smetana highlighted the importance of recognizing individuality among all parts of Poly’s diverse community.“When all the other affinity groups have events like [the Shabbat dinner], I would hope that the community supports them as well. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

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