It was an exciting and impactful Shabbos for 65 students from Emet Outreach’s Forest Hills Leaders Fellowship. Hosted by Rabbi Reuven Kigel, Emet’s Campus Director, and Mrs. Devorah Kigel, an Emet educator, women’s speaker, and a dating and marriage coach, the students were warmly welcomed to the community of Passaic, New Jersey. The theme of this memorable Shabbos was “Keeping Shabbos Together: Disconnecting in Order to Connect.”
Shabbaton attendees geared up for the experience while they have been participating in the ten-week cross-campus fellowship. Students in this program hail from Queens College, St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and Touro College. Led by Rabbi Kigel and Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov, the fellowship is a co-ed introductory course to Judaism. Almost all of Emet’s educational staff is there to teach and guide the over 70 students who attend on a weekly basis. Students of this and all Emet fellowships also attend two immersive Shabbatons. For many of the students, the Passaic Shabbaton was their first Shabbos experience.
“My wife and I have been hosting Emet students and introducing them to the beauty of Shabbat for almost 12 years,” said Rabbi Kigel. “This Shabbaton, like all our Shabbat experiences, was designed to make our students feel like part of our family and allow them to focus for 25 hours and truly feel what it is like to be an observant Jew.”
In order to accommodate the amazing turnout for this Shabbos, 20 Passaic families opened their homes to students. On Friday night, students enjoyed dinner with their host families. The group then attended an oneg Shabbos at the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Eli Gewirtz. On Shabbos morning, davening was held at Congregation Ahavas Israel. Rabbi Kigel then gave a class on the “Power of Prayer.” Lunch followed at the shul.
Mrs. Kigel invited the women to her home for shalosh seudos, where she shared an engaging story about how she became religious, and she also provided her signature dating advice. The men were treated to a class by Rabbi Yaakov Musheyev, an inspiring d’var Torah by Yiggy Benyamin, and shalosh seudos at the Gilden home. A musical Havdalah was led by Rabbi Elimelech Adler to conclude the Shabbos.
“This Shabbaton provided a real sense of community among the students who enjoyed being able to have deep, meaningful conversations and interact without technology getting in the way,” Rabbi Kigel said. “Thank you to our wonderful hosts and our incredible students for a Shabbat we will all remember. Our sincerest appreciation also to Sara Basiratmand Benyamin, Emet Program Director, and new “mekarevet” Esther Tepfer for all their efforts in making this Shabbat such as success. Baruch Hashem, we are so moved that all of the students kept Shabbat together and many of them for the first time.”
For further information on Emet programs and upcoming events, visit www.emetoutreach.org.