More than 150 young professionals from across the country converged on the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to celebrate the Sabbath amongst each other and members of the local Jewish community.
Held at the Jewish Children’s Museum, headquarters of Tzivos Hashem, the Chabad-Lubavitch youth organization, last weekend’s “Shabbaton” brought together men and women in their 20s and 30s for an inspiring exploration of Jewish relationships.
“It was [amazing] to see everyone coming together from different backgrounds to have a Shabbat experience,” said Raquel Crystal of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, who works in human resources. “It was nice to see, and I liked meeting people from different locations.”
The program featured scholars Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson, who spoke about the Jewish mystical view of relationships, and Shimona Tzukernik, who led an interactive workshop aimed at providing singles insight into dating and marriage. Esther Hadassah Samuels also led an exploration of connections between Judaism and ancient Chinese medicine.
“It was really a lot of fun,” said another Upper East Side resident, Lauren Finkelstein, founder of the Save One Person organization that provides immediate emergency medical care. “I met nice people from all over. It was like [being in] a spiritual cocoon for Shabbat.”
Aharon Lazer Goodman, a lawyer from Australia who served as the Shabbaton’s master of ceremonies, was particularly moved by the Friday evening prayer services, which were held at Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. He noted how some of the young men became so involved in the joyous dancing following services that they came to lead it themselves.
“The Shabbaton far exceeded my expectations,” said David Stamp, who works in muscular therapy in Boston. “We have all really been touched by the experience that we had in 770, with all of the joy Friday night, and the whole experience of celebrating Shabbat together.”
For Jamie David and her husband, Ben, who attended the Shabbaton as a couple, the Friday night meal at their host family’s home was inspiring.
“They were so warm and welcoming,” said Jamie David, who works for the Israeli consulate in Boston. “The Friday night meal was such a highlight and very touching.”
“It was really an amazing success,” proclaimed Shoshana Bander, one of the program’s organizers. “We hope that this strengthens the group’s connection to Judaism and each other, and that they were inspired by the positive experience they shared to grow even more.”