My Life Before and After the Shabbaton

5 years ago Sarah Hinkediker 0

Last year, I attended my first CTeen International NYC Shabbaton with my chapter, CTeen Panama. The trip really made a huge impact on my life, from the way I act to the way I dress. I have to admit, at first, I was skeptical about attending the trip since I had never really gone on a trip with so many people from all around the world. I will never forget the moment my parents told me, “Sarah, you are going to New York!” My reaction was not what they had expected at all. The idea of having to travel so far away from home and having to be with a lot of strangers really scared me. What I did not know back then was that those two thousand strangers would soon become family and that Crown Heights, a place I had never even heard of before, would become one of my favorite places in the world


  The trip was totally different than what I expected. From the moment I stepped onto the  New York streets, I knew that I was going to get a taste of Judaism like never before.  First things first, our bus driver from the airport was Jewish! That would never happen in Panama!  When we arrived in Crown Heights, I was shocked by how Jewish it was. I had never seen anything like it before. From there, the weekend took off in unexpected ways. I met hundreds of new people, all of whom were so surprised that I was from Panama. “Oh, isn’t that like a jungle or something?” What I heard the most was “I love your accent!” Ironically, before the Shabbaton, I did not know that I had an accent, which was really funny.

Choosing my favorite part of the trip is really hard since everything was amazing, but when t comes down to it, the best part was visiting the Ohel.

The second I entered the OheI, I could feel so much kedushah (holiness), it was not even believable. As I started reading the prayers that were given to us, I began to cry. I felt like I had been living my life wrong, like a part of me had been missing. I thought and reflected on what I did and what I did not do as a Jewish person. Keeping Shabbat! That was the really important thing that was missing. The day I returned home, I told my parents: “We need to start keeping Shabbat now!” I realized what an important mitzvah it is and I helped my family see it too, So, little by little, we started keeping Shabbat and going to Shul every single week. It’s been a year, and we’ve now been keeping Shabbat through it all! Thanks to the Shabbaton, I realized that I had the power to change my life in the best way possible. It was all thanks to the amazing experience I had at the Shabbaton. I can’t wait to experience it all over again this year!