Shevach High School enjoyed its annual Shabbaton on Parshas VaY’chi, at the Lake House Hotel and Resort in Upstate New York. Under the leadership of Shevach Menaheles Mrs. Shulamith Insel, the Shabbaton planning left no detail unattended to. Mrs. Debbie Meltzer, Shabbaton coordinator, and Mrs. Devorah Kovitz, Shevach Educational Administrator, worked tirelessly to ensure that students and staff alike would enjoy inspirational lectures, fun activities, delicious meals, and comfortable accommodations.
Mrs. Insel introduced the Shabbaton theme of “Mi Yaaleh B’Har Hashem.” She vividly delivered the message that life is intended to be an uphill journey with challenges and tests along the way. As we climb our own mountains, we are faced with tiny pebbles, jagged rocks, and sometimes even large boulders threatening to block our path. We are fearful of stumbling. We must remember, however, that these very obstacles are but steppingstones deliberately placed to bring us closer to our goal. They are but opportunities to get us ever closer to Hashem. They are handcrafted and custom-designed so that each of us can reach our fullest potential. By constantly climbing and pushing ourselves to keep on striving, we will, im yirtzeh Hashem, reach and remain standing firmly B’Har Hashem.
Throughout Shabbos, the Shevach students were fortunate to have several respected rabbanim share their insights and lessons with the students. Rabbi Paysach Krohn told a story of a baal t’shuvah who came to the realization that to reach the top of the mountain, one has to rid himself of “baggage.” David HaMelech teaches us that we should not be burdened with false values in this world, but rather we should strive to figuratively get to the top of the mountain in our lives.
Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, shared that the more sincerity and commitment one puts into a mitzvah, the exponentially greater it becomes. This is learned from the Gemara, which credits Rav Chiya with ensuring that Torah would not be forgotten from klal Yisrael. Rav Chiya did not merely teach orphans, but personally did all the preparatory steps himself: from planting and harvesting flax seeds, making nets, trapping and slaughtering deer, to preparing and writing the parchment. This made it totally l’sheim Shamayim, and deserving of much siyata diShmaya.
Rabbi Avrohom Swerdloff, maggid shiur at Yeshiva Telshe Riverdale, spoke about the tremendous power of t’filah, especially when one realizes that salvation can only come from Hashem. He presented the example of a merchant on the road who is afraid of rain as he has no protection or cover. When he turns to Hashem with a complete heart to hold back the rain, his t’filah has such an awesome power, that even the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur is concerned with its repercussions on the farmers.
In the words of the students: “A highlight of the Shabbaton is always the teachers’ panel and this year was no different.” Many staff members shared personal reflections and anecdotes on their “Climbing the Mountain of Hashem” and the feeling expressed was: “Shevach staff members are true role models of inspiration in avodas Hashem.”
Shevach’s seniors were totally involved in every aspect of the Shabbaton. Students and staff alike greatly enjoyed their original Shabbaton theme song, their riveting video on the theme, their humorous skit, their beautiful choir, and their lovely dance. An eye-catching logo for the Shabbaton was even created.
Ninth through eleventh grades also contributed to the Shabbaton. Divrei Torah were sprinkled throughout the Shabbos, delivered by a freshman, a sophomore, and a junior. In addition, every class either performed a dance or presented an entertaining video.
After the Motza’ei Shabbos class performances and a delicious m’laveh malkah, the school was treated to a sensational concert by Shaindy Plotzker, followed by an emotional kumsitz. The students came away feeling that this Shabbaton was truly one to remember.
Kudos to the Shevach Senior Shabbaton heads: Yael Itshakov, Adina Krikheli, Suri Meltzer, Chaya Praeger, Racheli Sillman, and Shaindel Faiga Stahler – and to G.O. heads Miriam Shira Chanales, Kayla Hoch, Leah Sdayeb, Nechama Feintuch, and Malka Neuman for their herculean efforts in making this Shabbaton so special.
A wonderful Shabbos was enjoyed by all. Students left inspired to truly climb their individual mountain and have the fortitude to stay on the top throughout their lives.