by Ariana Wiseman ’24
After almost two years without Shabbatons, on September 17, 150 freshmen and sophomores went on a combined trip to Camp Ramah in the Berkshires for their Shabbaton. Later this year, in the spring, they will also be traveling to Israel together. Director of Student Life Josh Ull put together this weekend to bring students together after being apart for 18 months.
“I think we pulled the Shabbaton off with flying colors,” Ull said. “I think everyone wanted to be there and felt the need just to get away and have time to bond with others from their grade for the first time in almost two years.”
The Class of 2024 did not have their Shabbaton last year due to COVID, making it hard for last year’s freshmen to get to know each other and bond as a grade.
“I was pleasantly surprised that the sophomore class, which had not really had a year of socializing with each other [last year], really fell into their community naturally very early on in the weekend,” Ull said. “If this bonding could happen so quickly, I think the Israel trip is going to be
so amazing. In addition, the Israel trip will take programming and socializing to new heights.”
Ull said the Israel trip, which will take place in February 2022 will build upon what the Shabbaton already began.
“I think that the Israel trip harnesses the power of travel in ways that the sophomore and freshman class has never had before,” Ull said. “It’s one thing to go to Washington D.C., it’s one thing to go to Connecticut for a Shabbaton, but it’s a whole nother thing to go across the world with two grades at once.”
When Ull found out he would be joining the students on their Israel trip, he was very excited because he loves trying new things and traveling with high school students.
In addition to his many other peers, freshman Ari Mayblum joined his fellow students on the Shabbaton. Instead of placing students with close friends this year, the school randomly assigned the students into bunks.
“Originally, I had thought that if I didn’t have a lot of close friends in my bunk, I wouldn’t enjoy the Shabbaton as much, but having new kids in my bunk, I was able to get to know them well,” Mayblum said. “The bunks allowed me to become closer with people who I probably would not have been close friends with if I had not been in the same bunk as them.”
Now that Mayblum has new friends from the Shabbaton, he is even more excited to visit places in Israel he has never been to before.
“I am very happy that our grades have another chance at going to Israel, and I also think that the new people are lucky too because I know they originally would have joined the year after we go but now they’re able to visit Israel with the returning students,” Mayblum said.
Sophomore Abby Farca felt that students were given a lot of freedom and bonded with new people at that time. Although having over 100 students on the Shabbaton was simple, Farca said it will be different for the Israel trip.
“I love the closeness of the Shabbaton with everyone, and I’m sure in a different country, that will just strengthen how close everyone gets,” Farca said. “Although, we will probably have a lot less freedom because we will be in a different country.
Another positive side of this Shabbaton was that students spent time with peers with whom they do not normally interact.
“I was able to see how everyone is like outside of school, and they are all so much nicer and more friendly when you’re with them for a longer amount of time,” Farca said. “It was so nice because I got to know a lot more than I would have in school, and I feel like that’s how Israel is going to be.”
Ull is hopeful that grades eight, nine, ten and twelve all go to Israel this spring.
“The main thing to know is that this school will do whatever it takes to get our students to Israel as long as they can come and go safely,” Ull said.