Thursday, Feb. 28 was special day for members of the Jewish Student Association (JSA) and all students of St. John’s University. A new prayer room was opened in the basement of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
For this special occasion, JSA decided to host a ceremony in honor of the opening of their new prayer room. In addition to having a ceremony, JSA also hosted a Bracha party, which is a blessing recited at specific times during services and ceremonies.
Having moved from the previous prayer room, which was located in the basement of the D’Angelo Center, members of JSA can hold meetings and say a few or many prayers without any limitations.
William Dayanayev, vice president of JSA, said that they were looking forward to have a designated space for their student organization.
“It wasn’t actually a prayer room; it was just a room where we had our general body meeting for JSA, but, there were only around 10 people in the club. The DAC basement was maybe a half-hour or hour that we had to ourselves during common hour,” Dayanayev said. “But, now, this is a 24/7 access [space] as long as Tobin is open; as long as we have access to this room.”
Assistance from Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C. M., executive vice president for Mission at St. John’s, and Sister Nora C. Gatto DC, campus minister for Retreats and Faith Formation, helped make the establishment of the prayer room possible.
Along with Father Tracey and Sister Nora, advisor Lizzie Sheehan and Tobin Building Manager, Edward Sanchez chipped in to help with the design and the construction of the prayer room as well.
Not only did students and faculty members attend the ceremony, but a few members of EMET also attended the event. EMET is a college campus organization that touches the lives of Jewish students and helps inspire hundreds to return to a life of Jewish commitment.
“It’s a very beautiful prayer room that they have. We thank the St. John’s ministration; especially Sister Nora for making this happen,” Rabbi Nissim Musheyev, C.O.O. of EMET, said. “This room will be an oasis and a step out of the busy schedule that the student’s have for them to connect to their tradition and to their creator.”
When the ribbon was cut, several rituals were performed that are vital to Jewish tradition, such as praying before they enjoyed a feast of Jewish cuisine.
Natalie Eshaghian, the president of JSA, stated that the organization, in the past, was dying down with their general body meetings and events. However, the opening of the new prayer room gives the JSA an official place on campus where students can come and pray and provides them with the materials that they need.
“This room signifies that we have Jewish students on campus and we want our community to be known and open and accepted,” Eshaghian said.