By Fortunee Cohen
Hi Mushky! I am so excited to be interviewing you! I heard you are a shlucha together with your parents, Rabbi Mendel and Raizy Rubin, and your six siblings: Chani, Moshe, Sara, Bassie, Bluma, and Esther Miriam at SUNY Albany. What is it like living in a Chabad house on a college campus?
1) What do you like and dislike about living in a Chabad house on a college campus?
First of all, the fact that I LIVE in a Chabad house on a college campus is part of what I like. Not all Shluchim get to live in their Chabad house. I think that it makes it more special, because it gives the students an opportunity to constantly see what a Jewish home is like, and it definitely makes a big impression on them. Our Chabad house is not only a shul, it’s the students’ home just as it is mine. They hang out here, bring friends over, spend Shabbat and holiday meals here, come to events here, and the list goes on. Also, throughout the years, I get to meet new students and get to know them really well throughout their college experience. When I was younger, the students were like my older siblings; they would babysit me, read to me, take me on walks, you name it. Now as I’m getting older, the students are still coming into college at the ages of 17 and 18, so the students are like my friends, and they feel quite close.
What I dislike about living in a Chabad house is that many times there are marathons of events, which can get a bit overwhelming, especially when I have my own homework and other projects to do. Sometimes having people in our house at all hours can be a little much. And when we are in intense busy mode, there’s lots of work to do, but that comes with the territory. My parents try to make it up to us with special activities, outings and family times in the slower, quieter Shlichus months when college is on break.
2) What is it like having hundreds of college students over every Friday night?
To other people it may seem overwhelming and loud, but since I grew up with it my entire life, it doesn’t seem so bad. On the contrary, I really enjoy it. Also, coming from our old Chabad house where we had a tiny dining room and we had to give up our seats and bedroom for students to eat, it’s REALLY not so overwhelming now! These days, in the new house there’s plenty of room, BH, but we still get out of our seats to help, because that’s what you do when you have Shabbos with so many guests. Many people think that it’s really hard to cook for so many people so often, but since many students help with all the preparations, it’s not that difficult, and is fun to work together as a team. I love the warm and exciting atmosphere on Friday nights, and I especially enjoy spending time with some of the students after the meal when it’s more quiet and relaxed.
3) What are the benefits of having a Chabad house on a college campus?
A Chabad house on campus has an atmosphere that makes the students feel at home in ways that a community Chabad house cannot create. In this time in their lives, the students are forming the way they and their families will lead their lives in the future. This means deciding if they will marry Jewish, keep a kosher home, etc. The college years are very crucial in determining a person’s future, and positive, meaningful experiences at this age make a huge difference.
4) When you are older, would you also like to have a Chabad house on a college campus like your parents?
I’d LOVE to have a Chabad house, but the type of Shlichus doesn’t matter as much as the life of Shlichus itself. It’s amazing experience to grow up in a Chabad house environment, and I’d love to create the same environment for my children IY”H.
5) Tell us a story about an experience you had in your Chabad house
A few years ago on Chanukah, a student came into the house crying hysterically, because she just heard that her mother was in a terrible car accident and was hospitalized and would need surgery. We were standing near the table of the Chanukah candles, so I lit candles with her, and when it came to the second bracha, I asked if she knew what that blessing meant. I explained the meaning of the blessing, and said, “Just as G-d made miracles in the time of Chanukah, so too, your mother will have a miracle.” I’m not sure what made me say that, but it just came to me, and that’s what I told her. At the time, I didn’t realize how much that meant to her. BH, it turned out that her mother fully recovered from the accident, after surgery and rehab. A few years later, again on Chanukah, another student got up at an event, and shared this story, and told how reassuring and comforting my words were to that student in a difficult time, and she carried the words of the Chanukah blessing with her through that entire ordeal. This taught me never to underestimate the effect even a few words can have. You never know!