This past weekend, I was invited to a Shabbaton by Masa. The idea was to bring American and Israeli teens together to get to know and discuss with each other about issues pertaining to Israel.
The weekend started with a friendly game of paintball. As I was running around in a red jumpsuit with orange paint being shot at me, I worried about whether or not I would have anything to say to the Israeli teens. I wasn’t so sure if we had anything in common. It turned out that I shouldn’t have worried for a moment. I started talking to a group of Israelis during lunch and realized that though we lived miles away from each other and shared different cultures, our wants, worries, and excitements were similar, if not, in some cases, the exact same.
After lunch, we arrived to our hotel and got our room assignments. During a two-hour break to prepare for Shabbat, I had a conversation in halting English with my two roommates. I admit that their English was far superior to my Hebrew. We discussed music, movies, and things we liked. One of the girls immediately invited me to her home for a future Shabbat.
Before dinner, we played games that were fun in that no one held anything back. No one was afraid to be themselves and act silly or goofy which made the games all the more fun. During dinner, there was a cheerful feeling of camaraderie in the air as we gabbed like old friends. After dinner, there was more fun and games.
The next day was full of seminars about Israel and its role in the international Jewish community, what it means to be a Jew, and what, if any responsibility Jews in the diaspora have towards Israel and its well being. It was a day full of fascinating discussions and it was great to hear the Israeli perspective on the topics at hand.
Overall the weekend was a success which has launched a Facebook group for us to keep in touch, plus a possible other Shabbaton at the chanichims’ request.
Well done, Masa, mission accomplished!