Amid acres of lush greenery at Camp Dora Golding in the Poconos, more than 200 young women from Stern College for Women came together in an uplifting Shabbaton suffused with learning, song, and friendship.
Joined by YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter and his wife, Rebbetzin Shoshana Schachter, along with over 25 staff members and their families, the Shabbaton was a continuation of the many daily opportunities the undergraduate women have throughout the semester to learn from and be inspired by YU Roshei Yeshiva and prominent mechanchim and mechanchot. It was also the perfect way to enter into the Yamim Noraim with renewed commitment and enthusiasm.
“The Shabbaton was an incredible experience that brought together students from all backgrounds to learn together sing together and grow together in a beautiful setting,” said Shoshana Schechter, Associate Dean of Torah Studies. “It highlighted YU’s many opportunities for religious and spiritual growth.”
With the theme “Taking Ownership Over One’s Judaism,” the Shabbaton included a Friday night shir and lively Q & A with Rav and Rebbetzin Schachter, along with daytime shiurim and a panel discussion. On Friday evening, dozens of students kept the ruach going, singing and sharing divrei Torah late into the night — a particularly powerful experience for women with little Jewish background.
“Shabbos was extremely uplifting and inspiring,” said Stern junior Sophie Schanzer, from Edison, NJ. “It was a great opportunity to bond with friends, to meet new students from different places and different grades, and to join together as one community.”
Added Lieba Weiss, a junior from Lawrence, NY, “We all enjoyed learning from our teachers outside the formal structure of a classroom, and spending Shabbos with Rav and Rebbetzin Schachter was certainly a highlight and zchus I really appreciated.”
Indeed, Rav Schachter and Rebbetzin Schachter’s participation added an extra level of inspiration and invigoration for all, noted Dean Schechter. “It was an incredible chance for the students to learn from and have access to a preeminent posek and Torah leader of our generation,” she said.
The Schachters, too, enjoyed their experience getting to know the students. “It was so meaningful to see the young women with each other and their interest in Torah perspective and values,” Rabbi Schachter said.
Throughout the year, Stern students enjoy a depth and range of Torah programming that is unparalleled, with unique access to teachers, rabbeim, and Roshei Yeshiva. From weekly Shabbatons on the Beren campus to nightly Torah classes that draw over 300 women, YU is committed to providing comprehensive Torah studies for women.
The yearly off-campus Shabbaton brings together the whole Stern student body, made up of women from across the world and from a variety of backgrounds, giving them a chance to build friendships in a beautiful and inspiring setting. Nestled in the Pocono Mountains on 156 acres, Camp Dora Golding is the ideal place to experience a relaxing and rejuvenating Shabbos, prepare for the Yamim Noraim, and bond.
Participating YU staff members and their families included Dr. Sara Asher, Dean of Students; Dr Jonathan Schwab, Director of the Office of Student Life; Dr. Dina Rabinowitz, chair of the Department of Jewish Studies; English Professor Dr. Shaina Trapedo; Rabbi Yehuda Chanales; and Dean Schechter.
“The opportunity for our Beren community to spend Shabbos with our rebbeim and teachers in camp was truly special,” said Rabbi Azi Fine, Stern campus rabbi who helped organize the Shabbaton. “It was a time for meaningful conversations, developing relationships, and thinking, learning, and growing together.”