By a 12th grade student
This past Shabbos changed me- me, and many other Bais Rivka girls. This past Shabbos, I experienced my final Bais Rivkah High School Shabbaton, filled with fun times, and serious times, singing and farbrenging, in the Villa Roma hotel, in upstate New York.
For twelfth graders, the weekend began a bit earlier than the rest of the school. Twelfth grade left on Thursday morning, stopping off in Monsey to hear Rabbi YY Jacobson speak to us, and to have a question and answer session with him. When we got to the hotel, we set up for the whole school, preparing the rooms and welcome packages for each student, and hanging up decorations that portrayed the theme of Shabbaton, “In Sync.”
The rest of the school arrived on Friday afternoon, when the fun immediately began, starting off with a student- teacher Master Chef competition. We got ready for shabbos, lit candles, and each class had workshop, headed by the madrichot. At the workshops, the theme of Shabbaton was explained to us. We learned about how each of us has a natural thirst for Hashem, we shouldn’t try to mute this passion, we should channel it into our Torah learning and our mitzvos. The whole school gathered for Friday night davening, and learned the theme song. The Friday night meal was full of achdus, as we all joined together to sing inspiring songs. After the meal, each grade split up to hear TorahTalks from their grade mates, each girl sharing their perspective on how to be in sync with yourself, with others, with the Rebbe, and with Hashem. This was followed by powerful farbrengens, led by Rabbis from all over the world, including Rabbi Wenger, Rabbi Greenberg, Rabbi Wolf, Rabbi Barnaton, Rabbi Glick, Rabbi Flikshtein, and Mrs. Dina Hurwitz. The farbrengens lasted through the night and into the morning. The atmosphere in the hotel was uplifted, the energy was one one of growth and passion for Yiddishkit.
In the morning, a yummy breakfast was served. There were pastries, yogurts, rolls, cereal, and hot drinks. After davening, we enjoyed a delicious shabbos, meal, and we were able to relax, preparing ourselves for many more hours of inspiration. On shabbos afternoon we heard from Mrs. Dina Horowitz, who shared with us her story and taught us valuable life lessons on how to dal to pain and sadness. Each grade had a question answer session with a few Rabbis, where the Rabbis answered any and all questions that we had on Yiddishkeit and life in general. Later in the afternoon, shalosh seudos was served. There was a beautiful array of salads, and rolls, and crackers, and spreads. Then the entire school joined together for a seder niggunim, singing niggunim of the each of the Rebbeim. After hearing Havdalah from Rabbi Tiechtel, each of us sat down to write a letter to the Rebbe, while the inspiration and perspective that we had gained over Shabbos was still fresh in our hearts and minds.
Motzei Shabbos started off with the Chidon Game Show, where high school girls who participated in the High School Chidon were tested on their knowledge of the ten Sichos that they had learned. The chidon was held in memory of Rabbi Yonah Avtzon A”H, and the game show was MC’d by his son, Rabbi Shmuly Avtzon. Chidon was followed by a delicious Melava Malka, and then the fun began. Each grade had a chance to do four exciting activities. There was glow in the dark hula hoop dancing, inflatables, a Minute to Win It interactive game, and a grand Kululam, where each grade learned a specific harmony to the nigun Ke'ayal Taarog. The whole school then sang it together, each grade singing their part, joining together in stunning harmony. After recording the kululam, the Bais Rivka Talent Show began. Girls performed dances, shared their beautiful voices with the school, and played musical instruments. The talent show was followed by high energy dancing, the whole school together that lasted way into the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning, after davening, everyone ate a hot breakfast, and boarded the buses. Before the clock struck noon, the buses pulled out. Before heading home, the buses stopped off at the Ohel, where each girl was able to read the letter that she had written the night before. We arrived back in Crown Heights exhausted but on a high.
There are so many people we need to thank for their hard work and contributions to arranging the Shabbaton. Thank you to Goldie Junik, Miriam Spalter, Malka Aisenbach, Mrs. Sara Blau, and all the Bais Rivkah Shluchos, who headed the Shabbaton, and took care of every detail, from A to Z. A big thank you goes out to Rabbi Benjy Stock, for the hours and dedication and directing all the Shabbaton logistics and food. Thank you to Levi Feigenson of Table One Catering, Malka Catering, and Benzion Cohen Catering, for sponsoring food for the shabbaton. Thank you to all the parents who helped sponsor other girls Shabbaton fees. Thank you to the Bais Rivkah Board for their financial support . Thank you to all the principals and teachers who helped chaperone and and run the Shabbaton. And last but not least, thank you to all of the twelfth graders who put in hours of hard work and creativity, running every single of Shabbaton.
All of the effort that was put into Shabbaton was well worth it. The theme of Shabbaton was brought out in a creative and powerful way, bringing the message of passion for Yiddishkeit into the hearts of every Bais Rivka student. The unity and inspiration that every girl felt will impact our lives forever.