Over the Shabbos of Parashas Ki Savo, the talmidim at Rambam Mesivta attended the school’s annual Shabbaton at Camp Seneca Lake for a weekend that featured chevrah, learning, sports (including a home-run derby/Gold Glove tournament and a flag-football tournament), and unprecedented ruach!
As always, the freshman class is composed of boys from many elementary schools, so Rambam arranges for them to arrive in camp a day early to have an opportunity to bond with their new classmates. Following a delicious lunch, the boys were free to swim and play basketball, hockey, football, and softball.
In the second annual home-run derby and Gold Glove tournament, freshman Dovid Rabinovich was crowned 9th-grade champion, with Yoni Grossman a close second. The two also qualified to compete in the schoolwide home-run derby, which was held post-melaveh malkah.
After a day of sports (plus the music room and spin room) and another delicious meal, the boys were introduced to an activity on perspective and individuality. Assistant principal Mr. Hillel Goldman asked them to “zoom” in and out when making decisions. The night culminated with a competitive and friendly game of “Crazy Dodgeball: Senior Advisers (and Mr. Goldman!) vs. Freshmen.” Despite the best efforts of the senior team, the dozens of freshmen overwhelmed them on their way to a dramatic victory . . . the first time in school history the freshmen have prevailed!
On Friday, Mr. Goldman led another session, this time on the importance of maintaining individuality in the face of adversity. A few hours later, the rest of the school arrived and the Rambam freshmen now had an opportunity to cement the kesher with the upperclassmen. One of the hallmarks of Rambam Mesivta is that the school is close-knit, and freshmen, sophomores, and even juniors and seniors can know one another by name and forge friendships.
Soon the camp was filled with talmidim, rebbeim, teachers, and advisers playing Frisbee, softball, football, roller hockey, floor hockey, and basketball in the spirit of achdus. The flag-football tournament, this year featuring eight teams and participation from over 60 students, also kicked off at this time with the finals set for a Motzaei Shabbos Super Bowl.
Kabbalas Shabbos, highlighted by new rebbe Rabbi Noam Singer’s davening and a dvar Torah concerning the importance of achdus shared by Mr. Goldman was followed by another outstanding meal filled with booming zemiros. The beautiful zemiros were so lively and effervescent that the entire yeshiva was standing on benches with interlocked arms. Senior Chezky Frieden delivered a dvar Torah and the singing and dancing continued at a post-meal tisch led by Rabbi Yossi Ziskind and Rabbi Singer.
Shabbos morning davening featured a special dvar Torah from rosh mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, who elucidated the parashah’s key themes. A hot Kiddush was then served, and “Happy Birthday” was sung to freshman Elly Honig. Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Rambam’s principal and noted Middle East expert, discussed his eyewitness accounts of achdus displayed in Israel during the war. During lunch, the momentum established during Kabbalas Shabbos continued as thunderous singing ensued. Rabbi Yaakov Wiesenberg discoursed on the parashah during lunch, which was followed by even more singing.
After some Shabbos menuchah, talmidim reassembled in the shul for optional learning, and then, an hour later, everyone participated and engaged Rabbi Friedman in a spirited discussion on the topic of lashon ha’ra.
The achdus seen at seudah shelishis epitomized the weekend’s theme of achdus. Led by Rabbi Aryeh Young, who shared a personal story about achdus, the crowd was deeply moved. Rabbi David Block, Rambam alum, former Maccabeat, and now Rambam rebbe, gave a dvar Torah. Seniors Ephraim Fruchter and Ben Silverstein also discussed the parashah and its connection to achdus. Rabbi Avrum Haar then questioned the mesivta about the true definition of the word “achdus.” Through spirited discussion it was eventually understood that real achdus is unselfishness and giving. The boys sang into “overtime,” davened Ma’ariv, and heard Rabbi Singer make Havdalah. The entire school then broke out into dancing as all were still clinging to the spirit of Shabbos and chevrah that had been created over the previous few days.
Motzaei Shabbos continued with the talmidim once again engaging in sports activities. The Flag Football Super Bowl almost went into overtime as the Fighting Fruchters battled the Frieden Fanatics under the lights and with color commentary from freshman Charlie “Garrulous” Grill. In the end, Team Frieden won and Chezky “the Architect” Frieden was named Tournament MVP.
Everyone then eagerly headed toward the dining room for a melaveh malkah with pizza, ice cream, and ruach, provided by world-class guitarist and 9th- and 12th-grade rebbe Rabbi Ari Boiangiu. Rabbi Boiangiu’s band included an amazing keyboardist and premier drummer, Mr. Halbfinger, father of senior Shmuel Halbfinger, who himself took the mike.
The night ended with the final round of the home-run derby, as freshman Dovid Rabinovich took home the first-place trophy, with senior Yitzy Laster a close second. Last year’s Gold Glove winner, Daniel Petrikovsky, was this year’s Gold Glove runner-up, as freshman Akiva Schuck was crowned the Gold Glove champion. The seniors then retreated to a late, late barbecue and bonfire by the lake under the careful gaze of Mr. Shmuli Goldner.
The Rambam Mesvita Shabbaton promoted learning, achdus, and new friendships. The year is already off a great start; the echoes of the singing and learning of the Shabbaton will surely reverberate throughout the halls of Rambam as the memories of time well spent will only grow fonder upon reflection. v