The EnerJew youth movement ran over 10 Shabbatons over this winter, brining on the overall more than 1,000 Jewish teenagers together in various cities throughout the region. Participants came from close to 50 cities in the FSU and together enjoyed quality Jewish time, socialization, learning, and new friendships.
Among the cities hosting the Shabbatons were Cherkasy, Gadyach, Zhytomyr, Moscow, Mogilev, and Yekaterinburg. Shabbaton seminars usually take place Friday to Sunday, but this year the EnerJew team was able to extend the seminar length to four days, which makes it a “Mini-Camp”, participants say, and allows the teens to fully experience the seminar’s special atmosphere and content.
“The Shabbaton was awesome, I will remember it for life!” said Michael Zalter from Samara, whose Bar-Mitzvah was celebrated at the Shabbaton in Moscow last week with groups from Samara, Saratov, Ufa, Orenburg, and Ulyanovsk. “When I saw that an entire evening was dedicated to my Bar-Mitzvah I was incredibly touched. Rabbi Berel Lazar, the Cheif Rabbi, said an inspiring speech and gave me a beautiful kiddush cup. I will now make Kiddush on it every Shabbat. I’m very happy to have had this honor,” he said.
All the seminars share a similar structure and divide activities between Jewish content and entertainment. The groups celebrate Shabbat together and enjoy the day’s special atmosphere, meals, and programs, while Sunday and Monday they explore the hosting cities for culture and fun, get to know the city’s Jewish life and participate in educational and young leadership activities.
“I saw how the teens from different cities formed new friendships, made plans to stay in touch and became excited about their Jewish identities – it was amazing! The seminar invigorated us for the second half of the year, gave strength and motivation to continue accomplishing even more,” said Rut Galieva, senior EnerJew coordinator after a Shabbaton in Moscow in early January with groups from Kaluga, Tomsk, Oryol, Krasnoyarsk, Gomel, and Chelyabinsk.