To say that the 2011-2012 Diller Baltimore Teen Fellows first Shabbaton was amazing is an understatement... please read a summary below written by Leah Gold. Please also scroll down to see lots of amazing pictures (they are not in chronological order.... I am still learning how to post on this blog!) taken by Sophia Goldman.
If you were to ask any of my Diller peers I think we would all agree that we could write an entire book about this weekend's Shabbaton. Yet I think we would also all agree that we would like to finish reading this blog sometime before our next retreat. Our adventures began when we all met at the Pearlstone Retreat Center at 4:00pm on Friday afternoon. We soon learned that we all had a mutual feeling that the past week of school work was tough and junior year is proving itself to be very stressful and overwhelming. However we did distinguish, that our Diller group is a place where we can leave all of our stress at the door, be ourselves, and have fun.
Our evening was filled with too many activities to name. We started off with learning how to give the proper greeting, with the help of a fellow CSI alumna, Sam Kahan. We learned about good eye contact and a sturdy hand shake. We all explained to each other the importance of first impressions and good reputations and how we do not only represent ourselves but we represent our program. In addition to our lesson, we played a game in which we matched a funny fact to the roommate we were assigned. Everyone received a piece of paper with a different fact and it was up to us to find our roommate and settle in our rooms. After our delicious Shabbat dinner, Miriam led us all in a beautiful Shabbat service. As the night continued, eyes became drowsy as everyone was exhausted from all the excitement, but our tired faces were easy to fix with a little sugar. When we returned back to our rooms, we all talked, played ping-pong, and our unique version of foosball in a designated lounge area, candy and soda abound. Once midnight rolled around, we were tucked into bed by our fellow Junior Counselors, only to be awakened in a few hours.
Our time to sleep was not long enough as our Junior Counselors woke us up at 8:15 with way too much excitement. Once we ate breakfast, we performed our Saturday morning service in the form of Yoga. Downward dog and other poses proved to be difficult and sometimes painful, but meditation served as a nice prayer. Following yoga, our Junior Counselors, Justin and Danielle, led the group in many fun improve activities. The rest of the day was filled with down time where girls challenged boys in a game of football, some people painted nails, and others did homework. Around 3:00 we all headed outside to do some outdoor activities with Lily Blake and ropes course activities in which we all learned how to work together.
After our second delicious night of Pearlstone dinner, Megan had us do an activity about what certain types of Jewish values mean to each one of us. This activity created great discussions and heated debates and taught us how to respect each other's views and opinions, even if they are different from our own. But to be honest, we were all truly anxious for the last activity of the night, the bonfire. We had our very own musical entertainment for the night, the great musician Ben Miller, and the great Diller Choir that accompanied him. Of course it couldn't have been such an amazing night without the talent of our fire-builder, Morgan Plant, and of course the company of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. It was a pretty perfect night, if I do say so myself, and almost magical how close we had all become in such a short amount of time.
Luckily for Megan, we never wanted to part, and we never wanted to go to sleep either. Eventually, we returned to our beds, ready for the Israeli Advocacy Day the next morning. Wake up was early once again, as we left Pearlstone and headed to the JCC. The whole morning we learned about the history of Israel and especially Baltimore's relationship with Ashkelon. This event was a great chance to represent Diller for the amazing program it is, and it is the least to say that everyone was very impressed with our attendance and interest in Israel.
Over all, I guess I can summarize the weekend and what we learned with these last few words. We truly came together this weekend and now we are all extremely excited for this upcoming year together. We all know it is going to be challenging, and a lot of work, but it is incredibly comforting to know that now we have each other.