Hebrew Academy’s first shabbaton in the Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor, Surfside area was a success, as sophomores united through the theme of “communication with each other, communication with G-d.” Situated at The Shul of Bal Harbour, Young Israel and various host homes, the shabbaton spanned last week’s shabbos of December 16th and 17th. The main focus was to unite and establish communication among students.
Shabbos began with amiable Friday night services at The Shul of Bal Harbour, followed by a lovely dinner. A short description of each student had been previously written and attached to the seats at the table, and before sophomores took their seats, they were tasked with finding their own description.
“This past weekend, we got to really know our grade a lot better, and I discovered that everyone really is unique,” said Mery Kamhazi (10th). “Before dinner on Friday, we played this game where there were sentences about different people in the class and we had to find the sentences about ourselves.”
After the shabbat table dialogue began to subside, students and attending faculty were greeted with divrei torah from student council treasurer Raquel Zohar and student body president Danny Yerushalmi. The activities that ensued after dinner were the catalysts of establishing unity and newfound communication among the sophomore class. Everyone schmoozed for a while and then settled into a circle where they were addressed by Rosh Lowe about communicating with G-d and with one another, and his journey with religion.
After the inspiring speech, everyone joined together in a stunning oneg. Rain began to fall just as everyone was ready to return to their host homes, so the circle reassembled and singing continued.
Students returned to their host homes and convened at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour for shacharit the next morning. After services concluded, the class moved into the shul’s Beit Midrash where they split into learning groups which were centered around the importance of proper communication in the modern world.
The class then divided into four groups based on their self-evaluated communication traits (either direct, analytical, friendly/kind, or reserved) and discussed how those communication styles interact with each other and how each group can better interact with the others.
“This year’s Shabbaton was truly an amazing experience for our class,” said Yakov Schwab (10th). “The activities were fun and creative, and certainly nothing we have done before. I think the student council and Rabbi Ney did an outstanding job, and we really appreciate all their hard work.”
Lunch soon followed, and divrei torah were shared by Noah Dobin and Jonathan Malove. Students had a couple of hours in the afternoon for menucha and reconvened at the Adouth home for seuda shlishit and havdalah. There, the class and faculty were graced with a beautiful meal and had more time with their Hebrew Academy family.
“It was so fun to hang out with the whole class outside of school,” shared Adira Kahn (10th). “It was an amazing weekend full of bonding and friendship, and I am so much more grateful to be a part of our incredible class.”
After seuda shlishit, the class settled into a circle yet again, this time as an open forum where they shared their thoughts and feelings about the shabbaton, the year thus far, and the grade at large.
“I really enjoyed the entire Shabbaton experience. I am very appreciative and thankful of everybody that contributed to ensuring that the event ran smoothly, especially Rabbi Ney and student council,” said Jack Benveniste-Plitt (10th). “I had a great time bonding with everybody in my grade, from kids that I have known since I was five to people that I met only three years ago. I truly am lucky to have an incredible class like this. As a whole, the Shabbaton was easily one of the highlights of my sophomore year, and I hope that we will have more amazing school events like this.”
Though the class was dispersed at different host homes, they united as one and learned the importance of communication. Some even found humor in the success of the shabbaton.
“The number one reason why I think we in literal ways got closer is because in the end, we came together and gave each other all our coughs and colds,” shared Zoe Sugar (10th). “Overall, it was definitely a meaningful experience and I can’t wait for more activities to do together!!”
By: Raquel Zohar (10th gradeand Noah Dobin (10th Grade)