The EnerJew Jewish youth movement in the FSU has conducted over ten Shabbaton seminars in the last two months, bringing together more than 400 teenagers for an unforgettable experience of shared heritage, connections, and learning.
Shabbaton seminars usually span two to three days from Friday to Sunday and include fun group activities, many educational workshops, a shared Shabbat experience and plenty of opportunities for new friendships. The seminars can be set up just for one city, but often include up to four or five, depending on the size of local EnerJew clubs, city dynamics and the specific goals of any given seminar.
“Sometimes even just one club that participates in a Shabbaton benefits in a way that would be impossible to achieve otherwise, becoming a much more connected, solid group of teens, who respect and trust each other,” said Lena Glazova, EnerJew mentor. At the end of March Glazova helped organize a seminar in Bryansk that hosted three EnerJew cities – Bryansk, Orel and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as participants from three cities without an EJ club yet – Kaluga, Smolensk, Kursk. “This was the first Shabbaton seminar for most of the participants, and they really opened up to it, experiencing it each on their own personal level,’ she said.
Overall there were 63 participants. In April Glazova was part of the mentor team for another Shabbaton, this time in the south of Russia – for Krasnodar and Volgograd, which drew 25 participants. “Seminars like these charge our tens with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and positive energy, give them the drive to continue searching and discovering more about their Jewish identity, introduce them to Jewish teens from other cities and regions, remind them that they are not isolated, but part of a large and vibrant community,’ she said.
Other seminars that took place in April and May were: Kiev – Riga – Tallinn – Nikolaev, Rostov – Luhansk – Donetsk, Minsk, Cherkassy – Zaporozhye – Mariupol – Kremenchug, Zhytomyr – Krivoi Rog – Vinnitsa, Kharkov- Odessa, Petersburg – Tallinn – Riga, and Tomsk.
“This was an unforgettable weekend, which reminded me that the EJ slogan, “My EnerJew – my family”, is not just words but real feelings,” said Aba Gadzhiev, another Enerjew mentor after the Riga – Tallinn – Petersburg seminar last week. “Of course the city rabbis and their families help a lot on the organization, without them this wouldn’t be possible.”
EnerJew currently spans 40 cities throughout seven FSU countries and each city participates in at least two Shabbaton seminars annually.