The annual Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls Shabbaton, also known as SKAbbaton, is by far one of the most anticipated events of the year! The SKAbbaton took place at the Raleigh Hotel November 8–10, but work on it began last spring; there is so much that goes into every Shabbaton.
This year’s theme was hakarat hatov, recognizing the good, and the girls spent the entire week preparing. Each day was a “hands on” demonstration of students’ creativity. On the Monday before, we turned the walls of one of our hallways into a “wall of gratitude”; every student wrote at least one thing that they really appreciate. It was really so inspirational to see all the different things that the SKA students are thankful for.
Every single student had a part in the preparations for Shabbaton. For example, the centerpieces for the tables on Shabbos were “giving trees,” filled with colorful index cards that all the students wrote letters on expressing what they were thankful for, even though they usually take these things for granted.
The entire hotel lobby at the Raleigh was decorated with all types of decorations, from balloons to banners, about hakarat hatov. We had a warm welcome from the G.O., who came up the night before the rest of the school to decorate the hotel, get things set up for the weekend, and put welcome bags filled with snacks and a giveaway in every room. After unpacking and eating lunch, we had some free time to take advantage of the different amenities of the hotel and to start getting ready for the most memorable Shabbat of the year.
All the girls gathered together for Kabbalat Shabbat—the men who were on the weekend joined us later for Arvit so that we could have our own kabbalat Shabbat and make it extra meaningful with our singing. Throughout Shabbat, I heard various girls say that the kabbalat Shabbat we had was by far one of the most beautiful and inspiring ones they have heard and participated in. There were beautiful tunes, harmonies, and a sense of achdut and passion as all the students and teachers participated in kabbalat Shabbat. This was the perfect way to enter a life-changing Shabbat.
After our tefillot on Friday night, we headed to the dining room to have dinner with the other grades, our teachers, and their families. Our first Shabbat meal was filled with fun, joy, beautiful songs, and zemirot. We were privileged to have Mrs. Jackie Bitton as our guest speaker for Shabbat. She spoke to us for the first time after dinner, and gave us tips for life in perfecting ourselves in the area of hakarat hatov. The night ended with grade activities and an oneg Shabbat for each grade.
The early wake up the next day was definitely worth it. The seniors put together a whole program following Shacharit and Kiddush. It was called “A Day in L.A.” There was a carnival, a movie premiere, and a Dr. Phil show, all skits that the seniors had been working on for the weeks leading up to the Shabbaton. Both the Dr. Phil show and the movie premiere embodied lessons of hakarat hatov.
The delicious lunch was filled with ruach and fun again, as the school came together to sing songs and cheers. During the free time after lunch, we had the option of attending shiurim that were put together by our rebbeim, hanging out with our teachers, or going up to our rooms to relax and recharge before the next part of the Shabbaton.
We all gathered once again for seudat shlishit, which was followed by another fabulous speech by Mrs. Jackie Bitton. This speech closed out Shabbat and transitioned us into havdalah followed by amazing Motzaei Shabbat programming. We spent the entire night dancing to music by Gary Wallin, and watching videos and performances at the annual SKA Talent Show. We all wanted the motzaei Shabbat programming to go on forever; we were having such an amazing time. When the programming ended, the seniors stayed behind and had their own kumzitz. They were all in shock about the fact that they had just spent their last SKAbbaton together. The memories they made on these Shabbatons are ones that will last forever.
SKAbbaton is a great time to strengthen friendships not only with your friends, but with your teachers and administrators as well. It is so nice to see friendships being made between girls from different grades.
There are so many people to thank for making this Shabbaton happen, especially since every student contributed into making this event happen. We all walked away with a greater understanding on why showing your hakarat hatov is so important.
On behalf of the whole school, we’d like to show our hakarat hatov to everyone who made this year’s Shabbaton happen; thank you! Was SKAbbaton 2013–2014 the best one yet? We think so! v