Unity & Community at Spring Regional Shabbaton

Posted on July 5, 2024

Nearly 150 teens from across the region participated in Midwest NCSY’s Regional Spring Shabbaton, held at the end of May at Camp Chi in Wisconsin. It was the largest Shabbaton since before Covid.

The event kicked off Thursday night, with participants excited to see friends from across the region. Friday’s activities included challah baking, sports, and Israel-solidarity bracelet making. On Shabbat, the teens enjoyed NCSY’s signature ruach, while bonding with friends and advisors and exploring the weekend’s theme, “Live to Give: The Importance of Achdut, Now More Than Ever.”

For many teens, the highlight was the opportunity to make new friends and build Jewish community.

“I loved this Shabbaton, and I really got to connect to a bunch of other NCSYers from out of [my chapter,]” says Eliana Basurto, an incoming junior at Goldie Margolin School for Girls in Memphis.

Tzofia Dean, an incoming senior at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, agrees.

“What I loved most was singing and dancing with a bunch of teens who have so much love for being Jewish,” she says. “Everyone has such awesome energy and ruach!”

Many teens also appreciated the opportunity to explore the theme of Jewish unity. Educational sessions throughout the weekend focused on the importance of thinking about – and doing – for others, especially in light of the ongoing conflict in Israel and the resulting antisemitism in their own communities.

“I absolutely loved the themes of unity and kindness as a Jewish nation, especially in these hard times,” says Sarah Villacorta-Zander, an incoming junior at the Barstow School in Kansas. “I feel like it was really inspiring.”

The Shabbaton also featured a trip to the Wisconsin Dells and an end-of-year banquet, which honored graduating seniors and outgoing city directors Rebecca Brown Eisenstadter, Maddie Fidler and Kobi Greenfield.

Volunteer, college-age advisors also did much to create energy and excitement throughout the weekend, while leading educational sessions and serving as role models for the teens.

“All the advisors were so kind and understanding,” says Meira Levison, an incoming sophomore at Yeshivat Kadimah Jewish High School in St. Louis. She adds that she greatly appreciated their learning sessions. “I loved that we were able to put in our own thoughts and questions. It made feel heard and valued.”

Charlie Cohen, an incoming junior at Marquette High School in St. Louis, shared a similar sentiment.

“All the advisors were so warm and friendly and amazing as usual,” he says. “[But] there is never enough time. The Shabbatons are always over too soon.”