Celebrating Together By Rabbi Abi Taylor-Abt

What do you do when the global pandemic changes your plans at the last minute?  This is something that many of us have had to contend with over the past year and a half, and FJA is not immune.  When the plans for our Shabbaton were in jeopardy, we reached out to Congregation Shaarey Zedek who agreed to host us for Shabbat. The Ravitz Foundation also provided essential support.  And just like that, the Shabbaton was a go!

There is a phrase in the Talmud, “kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh” , it means all of Israel are responsible for each other. This phrase is the basis of communal responsibility in Jewish Law. 

A Shabbaton is an incredible opportunity to put that into practice. In order to have a successful program, everyone had to show up, everyone had to make an effort, and everyone had to participate. This Shabbaton was a record-breaker with 93% of eligible students actually attending. 

Shabbaton weekends inspire and educate our teens in an atmosphere of Jewish pride and growth. They provide an opportunity for our students to interact together in a Shabbat environment, while giving them flexibility and choices in how they celebrate and pray. Yet most importantly, Shabbaton weekends allow time for students to be together, get to know their teachers outside the classroom, to have experiences and build memories.

Judaism is value based. Social and emotional experiences and being part of a community rank highly within our tradition. This was the first FJA Shabbaton we were able to hold since the beginning of 2019, and it was wonderful.

How do you measure a favorable outcome? Lighting candles, making kiddush and hamotzi, attending services, singing together, having activities, eating snacks, and playing gaga. These were only part of the experience. 

Simply being together, and sharing Shabbat, that was the real accomplishment.