Eight hundred and fifty Jewish students from far and wide converged on New York City last weekend for an annual Shabbaton, touring popular city sites here and enjoying the hospitality of Chabad Lubavitch families in Crown Heights.
The event was planned months ago, but a recent announcement that President Barack Obama would visit the area Friday affected the logistics as cops shut down some major streets for the presidential motorcade.
Chabad on Campus International Foundation, the program organizer, said it's all good.
"Aside from minor detours in shuttling participants to and from programs on Friday, we expect the president's visit to only the enhance the excitement surrounding the Shabbaton for the participants around the country," said Rabbi Moshe Chaim Dubrowski, director of programming for the group before the event.
"We will give President Obama a rousing Chabad on Campus welcome to the neighborhood."
Obama helicoptered into Prospect Park, then traveled by car to the Pathways in Technology Early College High School on Albany Avenue for an event there.
The third annual Shabbaton, which commenced in spite of Hurricane Sandy around this time last year, drew students, mostly undergraduates, who take part in kosher meals, prayer services, classes and other programs at campuses around the country and as far away as Paris, London and Leeds. Thirty students came from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Students pay just $36 in addition to their travel costs.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that colleges and universities redress racial and ethnic discrimination, or risk losing their federal funding. Thus, if African American or Hispanic students are harassed on campus, they can complain to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which is mandated to enforce Title VI and ensure that their schools fix the problem.