By: Eden Grosz and Raquel Zohar (12th Grade)
This past weekend, the 12th grade gathered for the annual Senior Shabbaton held in the high school building, marking their last shabbaton as Hebrew Academy students.
The event started with a festive and uplifting Kabbalat Shabbat in the cafeteria before the seniors sat down to their last Shabbat dinner as a class.
Following dinner, the class engaged in the Newly-Weds game, where participants are asked questions about their “significant other” to test how well each person knows their partner. Student council seniors Raquel Zohar and Elisheva Adouth created the pairings and ran the activity. Members of the class found the couples and responses to be surprising and hilarious.
“[I guessed Cathy’s favorite color correctly, which was magenta] So I got really excited because that was probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time,” said Yisroel Goldstein (12th). “I just knew she was going to say that … it was just a lucky guess. Then, I [accidentally] kicked Cathy’s coffee that was on the floor, some Colombian coffee. It was fine because Roye [Ovaknin] was so excited from the joke that he started jumping around and attacking.”
The class crossed the street after Newly-Weds for activities led by Assistant Principal Rabbi Assaraf in the gym. The class split into two teams and battled it out for three rounds of dodgeball. Following which, Rabbi Assaraf extended an open invitation to the class to create teams of three and play B.G.E. (Best Game Ever), a game that is played in absolute silence and essentially combines basketball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee.
Eventually, the class tired out from playing sports and returned to the high school building for the long-awaited and highly anticipated Dark Room, a unique forum where the seniors sat in a completely dark room and spoke their minds about anything and everything.
“[After the Dark Room] I just felt a really great sense of camaraderie and it’s just one thing I look back at when thinking about the shabbaton,” Zoe Sugar (12th) said.
The class spent over two hours in the Dark Room, sharing memories and feelings with one another. After, they convened in the cafeteria for late-night chulent and candy. The night ended in games of shesh besh (backgammon), conversation, and singing.
Saturday morning started with a beautiful davening followed by a learning activity lead by Jonathan Malove. Malove presented articles to the class about how we understand the implications of our actions, followed with questions to spark discussion among his fellow classmates.
Malove explained his inspiration for the activity.
“I was approached by [Rav Oded] to entertain the group between davening and they said that they would like for me to run some sort of educational session … We got into groups of four and we all read through the packet and it was very interactive and meaningful and I think it was really well written and I think everyone enjoyed the session.”
The students then ate lunch and davened Mincha before three hours of free time. The final activity of the day left many students in suspense, labeled only “Picture Activity.” Students wandered to the second floor and were met with an unexpected twist. Pictures of the class, from early childhood up until last week had been printed out and laid on the floor. Seniors were given time to look through the pictures and pick their favorites. Once everyone had a few pictures, the class sat in a circle and went around sharing some of their favorite pictures and the memories they had associated with them. Pictures of the senior’s younger selves were a huge hit, with many of the seniors sharing pictures from early childhood or elementary school.
“My favorite part was definitely Saturday when we saw all the pictures and talked about our memories. I thought that was really cute, and I was not expecting it,” said Abi Merran (12th).
Long after the activity ended, the seniors continued to talk, play games like Telephone, and reminisce about the past. Shabbat was ushered out with singing, seudat shlishit, and a beautiful Havdalah. Havdalah marked not only the end of Shabbat but the bittersweet end of many years of Shabbatons as a class.
“I think the Senior Shabbaton went really well logistically,” said Activities Director Rav Oded. “Everything was planned out. I think the seniors had a great time. There was a lot of bonding opportunities, and they took advantage of all of them and I think it was important for the seniors to have this shabbaton right before they’re about to leave and go on to their next chapter in their lives.”