6 years ago Leighest 0
By Sasha Boroda
A couple weekends ago, I had the pleasure to be a part of the CTeen New England Regional Shabbaton. It was held in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, whose Jewish community is strong and dedicated. Chapters including Newton, Longmeadow, and Springfield were in attendance, with a couple additions from other areas. There were approximately eighteen teens on the event, so it was a great chance to really get to know everyone, compared to the large Shabbaton in New York where we probably only met a fifth of the people who were there. We started off with an introduction game involving Mike & Ike’s, each teen sharing an embarrassing story, a recent school event, a hobby, a person who inspires them, and an interesting fact about their family. In my case, my friends inspired me and my hobby was Netflix, whereas a friend of mine recalled a story where she tripped and fell in school, and another shared that their family was from Argentina. Getting to know minor details of each other’s lives helped us connect, and the fact that our group was so small really gave us the opportunity to do so.
Throughout the weekend, we participated in a varying amount of activities. On Friday, we decorated cakes with the spirit of Shabbat, got hilarious looking caricatures drawn of us, and celebrated the Friday night meal together. During the meal we not only enjoyed delicious and never-ending amounts of food, but we also enthusiastically sang classic Jewish songs and spoke briefly about our CTeen experiences. On Saturday, we awoke when it was bright, and a little too early, to make our way to the Chabad for the morning service. Following that, we partook in more meals, a few speeches, and some down time before making our way over to Rabbi Wolff’s house for Would You Rather and a jellybean challenge that left us anxious about eating Jelly Belly’s ever again.
We heard from a few guest speakers within those days, including Rochel Leah, Edward Kimble, Rabbi Tuvia, and Esther Kosofsky. Rochel Leah lead a mini class with just the girls, going in depth about the reasons behind davening and the meanings of some of the prayers. We connected back to significant Jewish prophets such as David and Shlomo Hamelech, discussed mission statements, and participated in an intense conversation about why the prayers are so important. Following lunch on Saturday, Edward Kimble shared the stories of his sons and how they stuck to Judaism despite it preventing them from in one case, trying out for a baseball team on a Saturday, and in the other, playing in Friday night football games. They both held their beliefs and not only gained respect from those around them, but also were given the chance to do both things-try out for the team and play in one of the games. These stories really opened my eyes to how special Judaism is and how accepting others in society are of it.
Rabbi Tuvia then proceeded to tell us the truly inspirational tale of how he went from not religious at all, to a Jew who follows everything. Different from the other speakers, he really caught the group’s attention with his insightful journey involving a homeless man and a stolen car, a great amount of spiritual people with unusual names, as well as many other fascinating things. Last, Esther Kosofsky recalled a story about Reb Zusha, sharing how he sacrificed everything to learn Torah. From the way she spoke of him, we all caught on to what an incredible man he was. These speakers were all truly remarkable and they not only spoke words full of enthusiasm, but they also sparked something inside all of us, making them truly memorable.
If I had to choose a favorite part from the Shabbaton, it would definitely be the trip to Nomad’s arcade. From speedy bumper cars to entertaining arcade games, the trip was full of endless thrills and competitive excitements. Not only did I drive a motorcycle through a hectic city, but I also got to shoot attacking enemies, as well as attempt to dance my way to victory. Despite the fact that all these were virtual, computerized games, they still had all the kicks of the real deal. My friends and I made the most ridiculous faces in the photo booth, fell numerous times in Wipeout, and ended the night with a grand total of five hundred and fifty eight tickets-which split between three people was actually next to nothing. The absolute best thing we did there was the group laser tag-all of us were shooting laser beams here and there, right in each others faces, and behind each others backs. Laughing the whole time, we all got so into it. The whole adventure was truly an astounding experience and it left us all smiling the whole ride back.
When I first signed up for the Shabbaton, I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or not. Not a lot of my friends were going, and I knew it was going to be very small. As you can see, the experience turned out to be amazing, and I ended up having a fantastic time. I truthfully could not have asked for a better weekend with a better group of people, and I definitely can’t wait for the next one.