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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Junior Seminar 2015

This past weekend was Junior Seminar, where  Yeshivah of Flatbush eleventh grade students had the opportunity to get inspired over Shabbat with many of our faculty members and alumni advisors. The theme of this year's Junior Seminar was CHESED
We started off the Seminar experience on Wednesday with various chesed trips throughout the day and visited Imagine Academy, SBH, Ohel Children's Home, and to visit the elderly in Haym Solomon Nursing Home. Everyone's faces lit up with joy while taking part in these acts of kindness. On Thursday, we gathered in an assembly to listen to Mrs. Zaltzman's inspiring experiences with chesed. As the weekend began, everyone was ecstatic to spend time in the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ. After we arrived we watched a few videos and later heard from DJ Cohen who shared with us his life experiences and about how even through hard times others acts of true chesed can make a huge difference. 
After a little free time, Pre-Shabbat ruach began with a meaningful singing and dancing. During Kabbalat Shabbat, Rabbi Kramer's Dvar Torah taught us how without the true values of Judaism, people tend to lose track of what's true. After dinner, we gathered in a circle for more singing. SeƱora Ovadia gave a beautiful speech about Rachel Emainu's act of chesed, giving up her groom in order to prevent her sister from being embarrassed. We also heard from Rabbi Levy who also focused on the theme of chesed. The night's sessions were about the difference between fun and happiness, and how to find Hashem all around us. At the tisch, the students gathered to hear about one another's experiences with chesed, whether they were on the giving or receiving end. Many students opened up, leaving the grade to feel united as one. 
Shabbat morning prayers included another Dvar Torah, given by Rabbi Lubner, who made reference to the  recent acts of terrorism in Israel and the unity of the Jews around the world. In the elective session of Shabbat morning, each group discussed a personality trait and how to incorporate chesed into the specific trait. After lunch, Mr. Hofstetter spoke about how instead of looking for the people who do chesed in the world, we should become those people, and in that way we can mend a broken world. After free time, we reassembled for Seudah Shelesheet, which included a spiritual singing circle and speeches, given by alumna Celia Tawil and Rabbi Besser. The whole Shabbat experience left us with a yearning feeling to incorporate chesed into our lives. 
Motzei Shabbat began with Rikkudim, followed by Class Wars. The grade split into their classes to compete in fun games, such as musical chairs, tushie volleyball, name that tune, and trivia. The night was ended off with one last kumzitz, motivated by the acts of terror in Israel and throughout the world. On Sunday morning we gathered for breakfast and a slideshow; the grade smiled as they watched the memories of Junior Seminar. We would like to thank everyone who helped organize seminar and for making sure everything ran smoothly, especially Rabbi Besser. Everyone had a blast and walked away inspired!
~Marcelle Cohen, Class of 2016