The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation in North Carolina awarded a grant to the Chabad Jewish Student Center serving the University of North Carolina and Duke University to support its weekly Shabbat programming.

While the allotment represents only a fraction of the Chabad House's budget for a year's worth of Friday-night five-course meals for anywhere from 50 to 70 students each week, federation director Orit Ramler explained that the disbursement – the organization's first-ever grant to the local Chabad House – reflected the federation's commitment to supporting worthwhile Jewish programming.

"We get applications from many different organizations," said Ramler. "It's a very difficult process."

Rabbi Zalman Bluming, co-director of the Chabad House, stressed that the dinner experience is "far more than chicken soup and matzah balls." Students sing, engage in lively debate and are addressed by inspiring speakers.

Referring to a 2006 study authored by sociologist Barry Chazan, Bluming asserted that "the Shabbat dinner has all the necessary ingredients to transfer the vision and traditions of Judaism to the next generation."

"To have the Jewish federation as a partner is yet another indication of how broad is the appeal of our Shabbat dinners."