When tenth graders arrived at SAR High School Friday morning for sophomore chesed day, they were discussing how they could have the best, most impactful effect on the population they would be serving. Representatives were sent to teach classes at the Hostos School, socialize with vets at the VA, volunteer with children at MCC, sort and deliver food to the food-insecure at New York Common Pantry, interact with senior citizens and prepare food at POTS. The students returned from their community service visibly more confident, and proud of themselves. It was a fantastic atmosphere to carry into the sophomore shabbaton.
The student-led tefillah at Mincha was beautiful and the ruach was palpable. Students then split up into groups for a session discussing the shabbaton’s theme of Modern Orthodoxy. The session leaders encouraged students to analyze popular culture critically, and to be producers of personal ethical and moral standards, as opposed to consumers of societal expectations.
As the shabbaton continued, the whole grade interacted with each other as they played games, listened to shiurim and participated in mid-tefillah breakout dancing. Students sat with teachers and beit midrash fellows, learning or chatting, staying up late into the evening bonding with each other. Principal Rabbi Tully Harcsztark spoke to the grade about how God calls to the Human Race every day, and the reason Avram was chosen was because he took it upon himself to hear the call. He encouraged the students to feel chosenness incumbent upon them and to rise to the honor and challenge that presented. This message prompted much discussion among students who were inspired to approach Rabbi Harcsztark to thank him for his drasha.
After a spirited Havdala, busses transported the students to the ice skating rink. The more experienced skaters lent a hand to the novices and all enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner afterwards. The shabbaton was chesed-full, community building, and the most fun 140 kids could have at a sleepover.
By Ruthie Yudelson