Never underestimate the impact of hosting Shabbos guests. “My hosts were so welcoming that I want to have a warm and inviting home like that one day,” was a frequent comment by Emet Outreach students after an exceptional Shabbaton in Far Rockaway. The weekend marked the first Shabbaton for the spring semester of Emet’s Leaders Fellowship. Thirty students, who are members of the Cross-Campus Forest Hills Fellowship and the St. John’s University Fellowship, were greeted like family. They were joined by Emet staff members including Rabbi Nissim Musheyev, Rabbi Yakov Musheyev, Mrs. Hilla Kozuch, Rabbi Ari Hertz, and Ms. Chava Zaretsky.
“We’re so grateful to the Far Rockaway community for opening their homes and treating our students with such incredible hospitality,” said Rabbi Nissim Musheyev, Community Development Director. “For over 14 years, Emet’s Fellowship program has provided thousands of unaffiliated Jewish college students with an introduction to Judaism and their first Shabbos experience. Spending a Shabbos together like this gives students an opportunity to connect without technology, and lets them feel what it is like to be an observant Jew.”
On Erev Shabbos, after settling in with their host families, participants met at the Menachimov home for candle lighting and Kabbalas Shabbos. This was followed by a wonderful dinner and words of inspiration by Rabbi Yakov Musheyev. The group also shared personal “life lessons” like the importance of gratitude and how Shabbos enriches their week. The evening concluded with an oneg Shabbos and a lively Q&A session with the Emet rabbis.
Shacharis on Shabbos day was held at the Sefardi Minyan at The White Shul. Lunch was enjoyed at different families in the community. The group reunited in the afternoon at the Lebovic home for games and a shiur from Rabbi Nissim Musheyev on “Life on the Up Elevator!” Chava Zaretsky, Campus Mekareves, who helped coordinate the Shabbaton, noted that “the students were moved by Rabbi Musheyev’s class on values and the importance of internal self-development. They reflected on how they can improve their midos and shift their focus from external success to internal, spiritual, and family-oriented success, as well.”
For the s’udah sh’lishis meal, the women gathered at the Musheyev home where renowned singer Mrs. Shaindel Antelis-Schorr led z’miros. The men were hosted by the Katlowitz family, and the Shabbos experience culminated with a musical Havdalah led by Rabbi Akiva Palmer at his home.
Shabbos in Far Rockaway made a lasting impression on the students. “Attending the Shabbaton made me feel like I was part of a beautiful and welcoming community,” Jessica Kataev said. “We stayed off our phones and really took in the moment, which allowed us to connect with our peers and our hosts. It’s an experience that made me feel closer to Hashem, and I’d love to host Shabbatons at my house with friends in the near future.”
Nathan Borukhov added, “I have been on three Emet Shabbatons. Each experience has brought me closer to Judaism.”
For further information about Emet programs, visit EmetOutreach.org. To experience Emet’s comprehensive video library of Torah lectures, visit www.EmetTorah.com.