For Ariel Kaylokov and 18 other students in Emet’s Men’s Division, winter break in Arizona was a transformative experience. “This trip really opened my eyes to the importance of religion and helped me see how I could incorporate it into my daily life,” he shared. The annual excursion combined concentrated Torah study, exciting activities, and opportunities for friendship. Led by the dynamic team of Rabbi Mordechai Kraft, Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov, Rabbi Yakov Musheyev and Rabbi Ari Hertz, the trip was geared towards those who have completed Emet’s Fellowship program and are ready for more advanced learning.
“The Arizona trip is an annual highlight of our men’s programming,” said Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Co-Founder and Director. “One of the main goals on this trip is to introduce students to a real appreciation of Gemara study. It’s a hands-on education combined with a true bonding experience.”
A luxurious estate in Scottsdale, Arizona, was home base for the group. Each day started with davening at Ahavas Torah in Scottsdale followed by “morning seder” and Beit Midrash-style learning. After a break for lunch, afternoon activities included hiking, Go-Karting, a visit to a shooting range, and barbecuing. There was also time spent enjoying the pool, hot tub, billiards table and other amenities at the estate. Shabbat meals and davening were also at the house. “I love going on this trip since I get the opportunity to connect with the guys in such a meaningful way,” Rabbi Hertz said. “Over Shabbat each student commented about the religious growth they hope to gain from Emet. Rabbi Kraft and I also led a Q&A about relationships, where the students appreciated our transparency and the clarity it provided for their own lives.” On the last day in Arizona, each of the students made a personal commitment to take on new mitzvot.
Rabbi Yakov Musheyev explained the impact of the trip on student’s lifestyles, “The trip was a great opportunity for the guys to experience a Torah-oriented way of life that is fulfilling on all levels. They got a little taste of all areas of life from a morning schedule to what Shabbat is like.”
Building lasting rabbi-student connections is a key takeaway. “The beauty of this trip, besides the incredible learning, is the connection that develops between the students and the rabbis. It creates a connection that lasts a lifetime,” Rabbi Fuzaylov said. “Some of our most devoted students come out of these trips. Many students have gone on to study in yeshiva afterwards and all now have a connection with us where they feel comfortable turning to rabbis about any questions on Judaism and life.”
Ariel summed up the feelings of the attendees: “I was skeptical to go to Arizona at first, but it was the best decision I could have made. I built a really strong bond with all the guys there and especially with the rabbis. I made amazing memories.”
For further information about Emet programs, visit www.EmetOutreach.org. To experience Emet’s comprehensive video library of Torah lectures, visit www.EmetTorah.com.