Pre-IST Shabbaton - Dovi Berman
For the weeks leading up to the IST Shabbaton, I had no idea what to expect. I was mainly thinking about whose bus will I be on and whether I would be on the ‘good’ side or the ‘good’ bus. When we arrived at school on Friday afternoon, we put our bags in a classroom and went straight to the shul for Kabbalat Shabbat. During the service everyone’s minds were on who will be in their family groups. At the end of the service, some year 4s were speaking about their love of Shabbat in honour of the Shabbat Project. While listening to the year 4s explain their journeys through Shabbat and what they were going to do, this got me thinking about my journey and expectations for IST. My expectations consisted of being able to understand and encounter my Jewish identity in an authentic way.
Ilan finally dismissed us to go and find our clues. We went to find envelopes with our names on it, which contained a clue to an area of the school. This led us to meet our family group members and leaders. In my family groups opening tochnit (program) it got me thinking about who I am going to be sharing these experiences, of recognising and discovering more about my Jewish identity with. After the tochnit with our family groups, we were off to find out everyone else’s family groups and busses. This meant a lot of screaming girls finding out which friends are going to be on their bus…
Ilan had told us to all go to the gym for Shabbat dinner and after dinner we went into the shul for a few ‘ted-talks’ which focused on different approaches to Poland. All these speeches were incidentally linking to the same Rabbi but had very different messages, focusing on the perspective of each individual. These talks changed my personal perspective on Poland and what I should expect. We then had a tisch and once the tisch was finished, we had 1 hour until it was bedtime. After curfew we all went into our rooms, but of course we didn’t go to bed. We only had to be awake at 10:00am, so we kept on saying if we go to bed at 1am we will still get 9 hours sleep… of course that didn’t happen, and we only got 4 hours sleep…
After that good sleep in, we went to Shacharit (the morning service) - this was the first of many Saturday morning services our year will be experiencing together. Throughout the day there were a few tochniot focused on moral dilemmas and thinking about being aware of ourselves and others. We also had some free time to all spend together. This of course meant another 5 aside soccer game. We were lucky to have amazing weather and everyone was chilling outside playing sports, card games, or just chatting. We all met at the shul again for Mincha (the afternoon service), which was followed by Seudah Shlishit (the third meal). Once Shabbat was out, we had our last Havdalah as a year group until Poland, and we all sang together, reflecting on our Shabbat experience.
The IST Shabbaton was an eye-opening experience and was a small glimpse as to what we can expect on IST. I can’t wait to embark on this journey and discover more about Israel, Judaism and myself, and I am looking forward to sharing this once in a life time journey with my peers. I can’t wait to go and have a versatile Jewish experience; from spending two weeks in yeshiva, being able to learn, going to mourn the loss of our people in Poland and then being able to return to Israel, even more grateful for the Jewish homeland.