The essence of Shabbos and outpouring of school spirit that usually accompanies the annual Shabbaton of the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls were extremely apparent the week of November 16!

An introduction to the weeklong Shabbat Across SKA took place on Friday, November 13, with a video presented by SKA’s Student Council and shown to the entire student body. Every grade then enjoyed savory potato kugel in anticipation of Shabbos.

Each day of the week contained an activity guaranteed to foster preparation and enjoyment of Shabbos and school unity. SKA students and faculty were honored to hear from Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, Educational Director of NCSY, who spoke on Zoom on Monday, November 16, about reimagining the normal stresses of preparing for Shabbos. Noting that when we uncover our eyes after lighting candles and saying the brachah, Rabbi Bashevskin explained that everything in that moment is perfect, because Shabbos is perfect. Throughout the week, each grade competed to make the best video of the Shabbos experience for Friday’s finale. Filming around the building, the students had a great time visually translating and displaying the Shabbos table, Shabbos clothing, Shabbos parties, and Shabbos games.

Tuesday’s “Ask the Rabbi” Zoom on hilchos Shabbos gave the students the opportunity to hear from three local rabbis answering relevant questions the girls had previously submitted. Our thanks go to Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum, Rabbi of the IPM minyan, Rabbi Isaac Rice, head of SKA’s Torah She’b’al Peh Department and Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Anshei Chesed, and Rabbi Akiva Willig, Rabbi of Beis Medrash of Woodmere. The morning’s session was followed by entertaining grade-wide socially distant Shabbos parties where the SKAers dressed as Shabbos imahs!

The highlight of Wednesday’s activities was a delicious Challah/Babke Bake. Every student received a prepared package of raw dough and other ingredients to make two challahs or babkes – one for themselves and one to give to a shut-in or anyone who could use a lift. The morning’s event was introduced by Rabbi Yussie Zakutrinsky, rav of K’hal Mevakshei Hashem, who added much spiritual insight about the secret of Shabbos to our culinary session.

Student panels on Thursday, discussing their Shabbos experiences, gave the girls the opportunity to hear from their fellow students and learn from each other. After listening to several girls describing their own Shabbos, surveys were conducted using an Internet app to view student responses to “What do you like best about Shabbos?” and other questions. Comments ranged from “spending quality time with my family” to “peacefulness of being away from social media.” Later that day, a Silent DJ in SKA’s backyard had the headphone-wearing students moving to the music and waving pool noodles used for social distancing; the only sound that was heard out loud was laughter!

Shabbat Across SKA culminated on Friday with Shabbos pictures of girls dressed in their Shabbos best and the presentation of the Grade videos. By the end of the week, SKA students certainly gained a greater appreciation for the beauty and magic of Shabbos.