Almost Live – Day 3 Blog

Posted on February 16, 2020

By Maya Semmelman

This Shabbat on the Big Apple Adventure was fun, relaxing and inspirational. Throughout Shabbat, I felt that I got to connect to my religion in a stronger way. I enjoyed the theme of heroism because it provided us with a deeper connection to our own inner hero.

After a lively and musical introduction to Shabbat, we lit candles and had a meaningful Shabbat service filled with songs and stories. From there, we had a delicious dinner which began with our own challahs that we baked earlier in the afternoon! Dinner ended with some fun community building games followed by our very own “Big Apple’s Got Talent.”  As each of us performed in the talent show, we were then assigned new skills or talents to perform that were not ones that we chose. This gave us a whole new perspective on how heroes need to have the courage to be able to perform duties out of their own comfort zone.  The night ended with an oneg filled with snacks, desserts and board games.

Shabbat morning started with an interactive service where we learned powerful ideas about some of the prayers, and ended with each of us coming up to find our letter in the Torah. From there, we had icebreaker games and competitive activities followed by a yummy lunch! We had several hours of free time to relax in our room, or enjoy more snacks and board games in the community room. Later in the afternoon, we had a learning session where we explored interesting Torah sources about our hero theme.

Before Shabbat came to an end, we sang slow songs in a circle and heard more inspirational stories. What immediately followed was an amazing Havdalah. By the time we were at Havdalah, we all knew each other and that made the service so much more intimate and meaningful. The advisors and leaders got us all involved, and we loved it.

Right after Shabbat ended, we boarded the bus and drove to Rockefeller Center! It was so magical getting to see Times Square shining its bright lights at night. When we got to Rockefeller Center it was like we knew each other for years; we all got along so well. Ice skating was a blast! We all enjoyed each other’s company while skating on the ice. It was also super cold but that just made it so much more fun! We had the most amazing time on the bus ride back to our hotel. We sang and danced to some of the best songs ever, and had such a spectacular time.

This whole weekend has been so great. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience this awesome Shabbat with even more incredible people.

Maya Semmelman is a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School