By Jennifer Lader
Congregation Brith Sholom
Imagine spending two days immersed in Jewish life while in a totally stress-free setting. A dozen religious school and Jewish Day School families from Congregation Brith Sholom and Bnai Abraham Synagogue got to do exactly that during a Shabbaton their rabbis organized, held this October at Camp Zeke.
The idea was to bring the families of the two synagogues, which partner for religious school, together through the beauty of Shabbat. “We felt that a Shabbaton could give families an intensive Shabbat experience where prayer, fun and food would all mix,” said Brith Sholom’s Rabbi Michael Singer.
Bnai Abraham’s Rabbi Daniel Stein worked with Singer to plan the event, with Stein scouting the location and working out logistics. Singer applied for and obtained a Community Impact Grant from the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, and that’s when the two rabbis knew the dream of a Shabbaton could become a reality.
Camp Zeke, a UJA-New York Federation-funded camp that hosts specialty programs, features beautiful scenery and buffets of gourmet food for every meal. For the 26 children participating, this getaway meant helping to lead services, hiking with their friends, and enjoying s’mores around the campfire. Asked whether they had a good time, their responses are unanimous: “Yes!”
“It gave our families the opportunity to get to know each other better, and to strengthen our overall school community,” Stein said. He pointed out that it was an immersive Jewish experience at a time when these are increasingly recognized as critical.
“We wanted to reinforce that what we are teaching in religious school was something the children could see put into practice,” Singer added. Several of the children read from Torah for the first time during the Shabbat services. “We hope this Shabbaton experience will lead to other joint Shabbatot throughout the year and a real sense of bonding among the participants.”