The Annual Rambam Mesivta Shabbaton was held last week at Camp Seneca Lake and it was a weekend filled with fun, ruach, sports, games, and meaningful messages. On Thursday, the freshmen and sophomores went up along with the seniors who functioned as “Big Brothers” to their underclassmen. The juniors went on their own trip, “Junior Journey,” with their rebbeim in a day of bonding that included laser-tag, videogaming, some time at Eisenhower Park, and a film. They then joined the rest of the school at Seneca on Friday.

While the juniors were journeying, the rest of the school was at Seneca Lake swimming, playing basketball, hockey, softball, frisbee, soccer, and more! The Principal of Rambam, Rabbi Yotav Eliach, also met with each grade to discuss the message of standing up to peer pressure. After a midnight barbecue, the ninth and tenth graders assembled in the Seneca gym to take on the seniors, and honorary senior, Associate Principal Mr. Hillel Goldman, in an epic game of dodgeball. Despite their years of experience and high dodgeball IQ, the fresh-legs of the underclassmen took the win in a stunning upset that reverberates to this day!

Before the juniors arrived the next day, Mr. Goldman met with the freshmen, sophomores, and senior advisors for a session on “perspective,” and reinforced Rabbi Eliach’s earlier message of maintaining one’s value system in the face of the “mob.”

With the arrival of the juniors on Friday, multiple tournaments were able to get underway! The JV Quest for the Cup, featuring JV Basketball vs. JV Hockey in a neutral sport – this year football – commenced with the players receiving special “JV Cup” t-shirts. With MVP Abie Steiner leading the way, JV Basketball was back on top. Up next was the Varsity Quest for the Cup with Varsity Hockey taking on Varsity Basketball in Volleyball. After donning their Varsity Cup t-shirts that read, “Rambam Raven Nation,” with a robust crowd in attendance, the Hockey team won the day, avenging last year’s loss.

Next up was a schoolwide Flag Football Tzedakah Tournament with all proceeds going to benefit the Camp Scholarship Fund. Over 80 students participated in the tournament that started on Friday and would culminate on Motza’ei Shabbos. While the tournament was going on, the other students played ping-pong, Foosball, videogames, and more in the Seneca Game Room. The Boardgame Room was also open, and students had over 30 games to sample!

Shabbos at Seneca was a meaningful experience that began with a stirring Kabbalas Shabbos led by senior Boaz Duftler. Rosh Mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Freidman then shared divrei Torah with the school, and the meal that followed was filled with z’miros. An after-the-meal tisch was led by Rabbi Yossi Ziskind, and students could be heard singing for miles. The rest of the Shabbos was filled with learning, divrei Torah, an open Boardgame Room, and concluded with Havdalah led by Rabbi Eliach.

Motza’ei Shabbos featured the conclusion of the Flag Football Tournament; more swimming and sports; and even more food: pizza and ice cream, and waffles! At around midnight, the Annual Homerun Derby began with dozens of students taking their chances trying to go the distance. Sophomore Etai Kreitner was the conclusive winner, and everyone celebrated with some late-night hot dogs before the seniors went to their senior bonfire and barbecue.

The Shabbaton was a wonderful weekend experience that allowed students to have some fun while instilling in them significant messages and bonds that will last a lifetime.