Seminary? Shluchim? The Powers of a Farbrengen

3 months ago Shayna Solkowitz 0

What… a… weekend. This weekend I went to the CTeen 5th annual leadership retreat for the first time. We had so many inspiring workshops and speakers, but my favorite part included staying up until 3 am to talk and hang out with my new friends. My favorite part was farbrengening on Friday night. Throughout the weekend, we were joined by the Chabad on Campus Rabbi and Rebbetzin from Penn State.  On Friday night the Rebbetzin, Miri Gourarie, farbrengened with us, starting at 1am! She began the discussion by raising a question about marrying Jewish, a topic that hits close to home for me. I shared my experience with this topic. Sitting around with all these amazing girls discussing this topic created a very inviting environment. We finished our discussion, and a lot of the other girls went to bed.

We continued to talk and schmooze; two more Rebbetzins joined in on the conversation too.  At about 2:00 in the morning, the Rebbetzins were like, “before we go to bed does anyone have a story to tell.” My friend Hannah said “Shayna has some amazing stories.” I’m pretty shy at CTeen things, (and school ever since I moved from Raleigh, NC to Woodcliff Lake, NJ), but for some reason, I felt so comfortable sharing a story. I asked “What kind of stories does everyone want to hear?” and ‘inspirational’ was the verdict. I looked at Hannah who was looking at me, and I was like “okay, should I tell them about Shabbos?” Hannah nodded her head. So I proceeded to tell the the 10 girls and 3 Rebbetzins sitting around my story:

I used to be very observant, then I stopped. Ever since the International Shabbaton in February, I have kept Shabbos, and been observant again. On Rosh Hashanah, one of our Rabbis, Rabbi Dov Drizin from Woodcliff Lake, NJ asked for everyone in the congregation to take on a resolution,  “Say your resolution out loud because if you say it in front of people, you are more likely to take it on.” Every time I tell my story, I feel that way. Telling this story to not only teens, but three Rebbetzins was the best way to tell it. If you say a resolution to a Rebbetzin you kind of have to keep it :). My resolution is to continue to keep Shabbos, at least until school starts again. The Rebbetzins and some other CTeeners told me what an inspiration I am. Woah, a bunch of people I just met think I’m an inspiration, cool.

My second favorite part of the weekend, and my favorite time all year round is Havdalah. Whether it’s in NYC in Times Square, the retreat, or even just at home, I love Havdalah. All the CTeen girls, Rebbetzins, and other younger girls had their arms wrapped around each other. Once Havdalah ended, the dancing started. After the retreat, I saw some videos of the guy’s side, and the girl’s side was much more lit. I danced with my Rebbetzin from home, the Penn State Rebbetzin, and of course all the CTeen girls. All of us girls were dancing in a huge circle on our side of the room. I personally haven’t danced that hard in a long time, and I had so much fun doing it. One of my all time favorite things about CTeen is screaming with all my friends “I’M A JEW AND I’M PROUD!!” and we did a lot of that at Havdalah.  It was incredible dancing with my favorite CTeeners whom I didn’t even know 3 days before. This weekend has kind of changed my life. This weekend made me think more seriously about going to Seminary, even becoming a Shaliach or Rebbetzin, and encouraged me to join CTeen Connections. We’ll see what Hashem has in store, but I’m excited for the journey.