In the Heart of Israel: Teenage Refugees Enjoyed an Enhancing Shavuot Retreat

More than eighty Jewish teenagers, nearly all refugees from across Ukraine, who arrived in Israel during the last few weeks, enjoyed a unique holiday retreat in Kfar Chabad – organized by the EnerJew Jewish Youth Movement in the FSU – in honor of the Holiday of Shavuot. The event was a special ray of light and hope for these teenagers, who have experienced radical and unexpected changes in their adolescent lives.

Hundreds of Jewish teenagers, refugees from Ukraine, and new immigrants from additional FSU countries are currently scattered across Israel and are trying to begin a new life with very few means, and strong mentality and language barriers.

Many of them were active members in FJC’s EnerJew clubs across the FSU, before fleeing to Israel, and now seek to continue their close and deep relationship with the movement and its activists. EnerJew, in collaboration with Chabad Be’Aliya of Israel, initiated the Shavuot Retreat as part of its ongoing efforts to stay in close touch with these wonderful teenagers and continue to help them.

The four-day long weekend included a guided tour and quest game in Kfar Chabad’s historical and tourist sites, a special and intimate tour of the famous 770 replica led by renowned lecturer Rabbi Alexander Proshanski, classes and lectures on fascinating and contemporary issues, an into-the-night Shavuot study session combined with trivia and social games, nourishing and tasty Shabbat and holiday meals, joint prayers, singing and dancing, musical performances and special meetings with senior Russian-speaking figures living in the village.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” said 14-year-old Nestia from South Ukraine, “to meet peers of our age, experiencing the same challenges and sharing the same feelings and worries. We shared our hopes and fears with each other, and strengthened each other in an uplifting and enhancing environment. We felt, for a moment, back in our home cities enjoying our EnerJew activities, like in the good old times…”

The seminar was accompanied by a dedicated staff of rabbis, lecturers, coordinators, and counselors, who attended to the individual needs of each teenager.

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