Sophomore Shabbaton

Ethan Davidovitch ’22

For the second time in their Ramaz careers, the sophomores embarked on their grade Shabbaton in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Following a grade-wide davening and a small breakfast, the students headed out to the buses. Coming out of a difficult two-test week, the sophomores finally realized that they had made it to Friday, and a relaxed vibe began to flow throughout the grade. 

Before arriving at the hotel, the grade spent a few hours at an indoor ice skating rink in New Jersey. Although not everyone skated, it was an enjoyable experience for the whole grade together. The informal environment was a great way for students to interact with each other in a different way than in school. More importantly, students who had not previously conversed began to interact. After a pizza lunch, the sophomores boarded the buses and headed to the hotel. 

Upon arrival, excitement filled the air as students found out who they would be sharing their rooms with and went upstairs to begin preparing for Shabbat. A couple hours later, all dressed up, the grade congregated downstairs for Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv. 

Following davening, the sophomores began the first of their two sessions. Much different than the signature “speed dating” they experienced on Freshman Shabbaton, students engaged in a series of “Would you Rather” questions about various topics such as mortality, theology, and religion. Rabbi Dov Pianko explained the difference between the nature of the sessions on each Shabbaton. “Each Shabbaton has its own theme. The theme of Freshman Shabbaton is friendship, so that’s why sessions involve getting to know each other and discussions about what it means to be a friend. The theme of Sophomore Shabbaton is choices. The sessions involve different aspects of decision making while being able to explain your position to your peers.” The sessions were a more serious part of the Shabbaton, but the more structured program provided a slight change and a positive experience, as well as a chance to talk with faculty members who might not otherwise be having conversations on these topics.

After dinner, there was free time to hang out with friends until curfew. For many, the best parts of the Shabbaton were the unstructured and relatively unsupervised times. This allowed students to forget about their workload and relax. 

On Saturday evening, after what seemed like the thousandth meal of the weekend and a motzei Shabbat party, the sophomores got back on the busses to go to Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park. The venue was dimly lit and provided neon colored shirts, creating a glow-in-the-dark effect. The different activities at Sky Zone ranged from warped walls to dodgeball to an obstacle course reminiscent of American Ninja Warrior. Hanging out at Sky Zone was a memorable time and a great way to culminate a weekend filled with fun and friends.

As pleasant as a weekend at home can be, the Shabbat spent with classmates brought entertainment and excitement and strengthened relationships between students.