For over 15 years, Rabbi Reuven Kigel and his wife Devorah have welcomed hundreds of Emet students to their Passaic home for what has become a must-have Shabbos experience. As Emet’s Campus Director, Rabbi Kigel is a fixture for students when they first join the beginners Leaders Fellowship Program, and many have spent and kept their first Shabbos in his home. At a recent Shabbaton, rather than celebrating a beginning, the Kigels celebrated a special ending. “Our first Shabbaton of the summer was in honor of the graduation of many Queens College students including Michael Daniel, who is a devoted Emet student and the president of the Emet Student Association (ESA) at Queens College,” Rabbi Kigel said.

On Friday night, everyone gathered at the Kigels for a delicious dinner, melodic zemiros, and warm connections. During the meal, Rabbi Kigel posed a thought-provoking question and asked each participant to name their spiritual goal for the summer. “Rabbi Kigel has the special ability to encourage students to articulate their goals in concrete ways so that they can make a real effort to achieve them,” said Chava Zaretsky, Campus Mekareves, who helped coordinate the Shabbaton. “Students made goals like praying more, learning daily, lighting Shabbos candles, putting on tefilin, and even attempting to keep Shabbos for the whole summer. It was inspiring to see their passion to move forward in spiritual growth.”

On Shabbos day, the group separated to enjoy lunch with their Passaic host families. In the afternoon, everyone returned to the Kigels. The girls heard an impactful lecture from Mrs. Kigel, a respected dating and marriage coach and a popular women’s speaker. “No one wanted Mrs. Kigel’s shiur on dating and tznius to end. The girls gained tremendously from her deep knowledge of the topics,” Chava said. The guys heard a lecture from renowned speaker and Passaic resident Mr. Harry Rothenberg. He spoke about “becoming the best version of yourself.”

Seuda Shlishis was at the Kigels and included divrei Torah from Rabbi Kigel and Rabbi Yakov Musheyev. Shabbos came to a close with a musical havdalah that was led by Rabbi Elimelech Adler. The Motzaei Shabbos highlight was when Rabbi Kigel presented Michael with an award. “This Shabbos was not about saying goodbye to the graduates but saying thank you for everyone’s dedication to Emet and the ESA at Queens College,” Rabbi Kigel said. “We hope that the students will continue to be a part of Emet with our Level 2 programming and when they are ready for our Couples Division.”

“Joining Emet was one of the most important decisions of my life, as I was inspired by the rabbis and students to grow closer to my Jewish identity. As president of ESA at Queens College, I became a leader who was able to connect Jewish students to their Jewish identities,” Michael said. “I am extremely proud of the students who joined Emet and found inspiration to become better Jews and overall better people. I hope that Emet continues to inspire students like it was able to inspire me.”

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