VESTAL (WBNG) -- Binghamton University's Chabad Center is changing up their annual Shabbat dinner, which typically draws thousands of students.
With the spread of COVID-19 and gatherings banned, religious leaders were forced to either cancel the event, or find a new way to host it. We spoke with religious leaders prior to the start of Shabbat, who say they have a solution to still celebrate as a community.
"As far as the structure of the event, it's taken on an entirely different dimension. Instead of being able to come together, about 2,000 people together in the Events Center, everyone is on their own," said Rabbi Levi Slonim with the Binghamton Chabad Center.
As a result, students are coming together virtually. A pre-Shabbat program, celebrating with music, dancing, prayer, and simply being together, even if it's not in person.
"We feel this is needed now more than ever perhaps, because we're living in unprecedented times," said Slonim.
Students, coming together to remember we're all in this together.
"We're alive because God wants us to be alive. We have a purpose. We wouldn't be here if we didn't have a purpose, that's our belief. We're here, we have a purpose to make this world a better place and we have to remember all the blessings we have," said Slonim.
The Chabad Center also provided meals to more than 200 students still living on campus, so they could also celebrate in their homes.
Organizers say Binghamton University holds the record for the largest student Shabbat dinner on any university campus.