Freshman Shabbaton


Andrew Spielfogel ’23

On a cool November morning, Ramaz first years assembled to depart for their first grade-wide sleepover—the Freshman Shabbaton. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the freshmen got to bond, make new friends and express their appreciation for each other during a weekend devoted to fun activities and ruach. After davening and a generous breakfast, we were on our way! A short bus ride later, we arrived at the Bogota Golf Center and were free to roam around the facility and play a wide variety of sports and games including mini-golf, golf, basketball, and baseball. This gave us the chance to informally engage with our classmates in fun activities. I had the chance to speak to new classmates who I don’t normally see in class and spend time with them.

A few hours later, we headed for Asbury Park, where we had lunch and davened Mincha. It was really nice davening as a whole grade which we don’t normally get to do. After preparing for Shabbat, we sang songs and danced; this was a great start to Shabbat.

Although we had heard from Dr. Aharon about what to expect on the Shabbaton every day after davening a week prior to it, I still felt nervous and unsure of what the weekend would be like. I did not know the exact itinerary, who would I be rooming with, or even what to do over Shabbat all dressed up in a sports jacket and tie.

Upon arrival at the ocean-front hotel, we were assigned rooms and got ourselves ready for an early Shabbat. Kabbalat Shabbat was really special; we sang songs and danced. The room was filled with a lot of spirit, and we had a great time. After Friday night dinner, we played games with our friends. 

We got to not only bond with our peers but also with our teachers and senior advisors. I thought it was fun to have a chance to talk with the seniors and ask questions about the school and what we can expect in the years to come at Ramaz. It was great to get to know the older students who became familiar faces when we got back. Having the Shabbaton at the start of the year is a big advantage.

We concluded Shabbat with a joyous Havdalah and a glow-in-the-dark dance party. The day really exceeded my expectations! I thought it was a really great experience for the grade. I feel that this retreat came at just the perfect time of year to solidify new friendships which are just beginning, spend time with old friends, and come together as one unified group!