Whole High School Toco Hills Shabbaton
On November 12, to kick-off the start of the year’s first High School Shabbaton, STUCO planned a Friday filled with activities. The day began at Ohr HaTorah with a communal Shacharit, followed by a speech by Rabbi Dovid Sapirman. Students then ate a breakfast of bagels and orange juice on the patio of the shul, and then students made their own challot for Shabbat.
Next, two buses pulled up to the shul to drive students to downtown Atlanta for a scavenger hunt. Located at Centennial Park, teams of students (divided by advisory classes) competed using the GooseChase app — an interactive app that connects players with their teammates and allows them to submit photos to prove the completion of each challenge. Many challenges involved finding certain monuments and buildings specific to downtown Atlanta, such as the Coca-Cola Museum. STUCO Co-President Leah Houben said that she was “inspired by how the Northeastern Jewish high schools plan their Shabbatonim” by starting the festivities during the day on the Friday of the Shabbaton.
After competing for a few hours, the students had time to start getting ready for Shabbat. Right before Mincha at Ohr Hatorah, many students of all grade levels gathered on the streets in New Brittany to take pictures together. Afterwards, everyone made their way back to shul for Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, and Maariv. Following this, the students split up into groups based on Judaic studies teacher and walked to the teacher’s home for dinner. The schedule continued at Rabbi Allan Houben’s home for an oneg in his backyard where students enjoyed snacks and drinks. At the end, students ventured to their homes or hosts’ homes to sleep.
The Shabbaton continued Shabbat morning for Shacharit, Torah reading, and Musaf at Ohr HaTorah. Afterwards, the Shinshinim led an interactive activity in Hebrew where students would translate and sing popular songs.
Following the game, students ate lunch outside and concluded with Mincha. After the meal, the students made their way to Empire Road for menucha, an unstructured time to relax, in the Kutners’ and Steinbergs’ backyards. STUCO Co-President Yered Wittenberg said, “Menucha was a great way to branch out and spend time with other grades.” After Menucha, students went to the Magens’ home, where they picnicked, had a kumzits, and conducted havdalah.
Shabbat ended, but the Shabbaton was not over yet. Once havdalah concluded, students were encouraged to head over to the AJA gym to watch the AJA Jaguars versus Weber Rams basketball games. Senior Daniel Gadelov said the game was “intense and heated.” The weekend was utterly jam-packed with activities and opportunities to bond with peers outside of students’ grade levels.