Friday February 16th to Sunday February 18th, the Grade Six students of RJDS began their adventure. The students from Edmonton Talmud Torah arrived at RJDS directly from the airport with their teacher. We met each other, ate a quick breakfast, and departed for Loon Lake in Maple Ridge.
Surprise! We arrived into a snowy winter wonderland. Our bus almost didn’t make it into the beautiful forested resort. When we disembarked, we ate our packed lunches in the gym together with Vancouver Talmud Torah students who had arrived shortly before us and played some “icebreaker” games led by our Shinshiniot, Maya and Diana.
After discovering our rooms and unpacking, we prepared for Shabbat. Rabbi Stephen Berger, from King David High School, together with Morah Lisa, led us in Kabbalat Shabbat, we lit our Shabbat candles in the shape of a Magen David, and we sat down to a delicious Shabbat meal, prepared by Linda Hertzman and her sous chef Natalie.
The next day began with a yummy breakfast and a creative Learner’s service for Tefillot (prayers). Students were divided into colour groups and prepared a short skit or song around the theme of one particular tefillah and then performed it for the rest of the group.
We played some basketball and had a Taki tournament (Israeli card game a little bit like Uno). Students were engaged in ruach-filled singing of Shabbat songs, again with the leadership of Diana and Maya and mesmerized by Rabbi Berger’s meaningful stories.
Havdallah outside in the snow was breathtaking. Morah Ellen from VTT played guitar as our candle wax dripped into the snow. Ben Millman and his assistant Lorenzo were the DJs for the dance party that night. Many students enjoyed dressing up and posing at the photo booth too.
The next morning, Ben and Lorenzo helped us write lyrics to the song Better Together and we came up with a fabulous tribute to our weekend together. That video is forthcoming on the RJDS website. We had a few more activities, led again by Maya and Diana and then said our goodbyes to the new friends we met from VTT and ETT.
After the drive home to Richmond, the Shabbaton wasn’t yet completely over. The ETT students joined us for a swim at Hillcrest Aquatic Centre and a pizza dinner at Café 41. Then they stayed overnight at our homes (thanks to Jonathan, ZSofia and Penina’s families for hosting) and joined us at school the next morning for a closing activity with Morah Sally.
Thank you to all the VTT, ETT and RJDS teachers and Shoshi Burton, the chief organizer, for spending their weekend celebrating Shabbat and taking extra special care of these wonderful students!