You might be asking right now: “Rachel, what was so special about Shabbat and Havdallah at IC this year? What exactly about those experiences made you smile?”
Shabbat and Havdallah in BBYO are truly like no other services that I’ve ever seen. I’ve gone to sleepaway camp and gone to services there, but in BBYO, it’s just so out of this world in the most extraordinary way. During IC, I felt more connected to myself, to others around me, to the world, and to my Judaism because of these services. Throughout going to these services, I felt so happy and energized that I just couldn’t get the huge smile off of my face.
It all started on Friday night when I attended the Kabbalat Shabbat Candle Lighting service. Everybody settled into the Zoom with music playing as people entered, instantly feeling that sense of connection through music. As Eric and Happie played music, everyone on the call swayed back and forth as if we were all in a friendship circle together. Although we couldn’t sing together on Zoom, we could sing as loud and happily as we wanted while on mute. We had people light their candles and say the candle lighting blessings together. After singing for so long, the tunes really do get stuck in your head, so I found myself humming them for the rest of the night. There’s truly nothing like welcoming Shabbat with your BBYO family, even if it’s virtually.
Later that night, it was time for Friday night services! I decided to attend the High School Musical Shabbat because I had heard so much hype about it and I’m one of the biggest HSM fans you’ll ever meet, so attending was definitely a plus. This was one of the best Shabbat services I’ve ever been to because, as soon as I got on, I felt so ready to sing my heart out. At the service, we sang familiar Shabbat tunes we all knew, as well as the iconic High School Musical songs, of course. Everybody was having the time of their life as we jammed out and kicked off our Friday night together. The service really educated me about how as BBYO members, we must learn to work as a community to achieve our goals and accept each other for who we are, no matter our differences.
On Saturday morning, I ran my “A Morning At Camp” Shacharit Service. At first, I was really nervous because I didn’t know how many people would show up, and I worried that I would mess up my lines. However, the service ended up having 200+ people on it, which was one of the biggest turnouts of a program during IC. Everybody that attended was super engaged and they were all smiling, jumping, and dancing when singing the prayers, which made me smile way too much. Besides the service, we also had a “Color War” themed activity after where we split everyone into breakout rooms and each room thought of a cheer that embodied certain principles, such as kindness, love, and support. We had about four groups participate, and they got really into their cheers. I recall going through the zoom chat during the service and seeing everyone so excited, as well as people privately chatting with me and saying how much they loved the service!
Last but not least, Havdallah arrived! I attended the two evening Havdallah services, and they were absolutely perfect. I loved how the service leaders were set up on a virtual stage, which made it look very unique, authentic, and gave a feeling of nostalgia to how the IC’s in-person look like. I got emotional from singing the songs and just having that everlasting sense of connection with everyone else on both services. We had BBYO members that serve roles in the ILN speak about their experiences as teen activists and what they believe in. As I was singing the Havdallah songs we all know and love, as well as hearing from the ILN members, it really got me thinking about what an amazing community I belong to. It also made me realize that BBYO is so much more than just an organization; it’s a family through and through.
Going back to your question, “What was so special about Shabbat and Havdallah at IC this year? What exactly about those experiences made you smile?” I have the perfect answers for you. Shabbat and Havdallah at IC were so special and made me feel that same beautiful, loving, and passionate feeling that I always feel whenever I step into any BBYO event or talk to any of my BBYO friends. These experiences made me smile because I feel so connected to those around me, and it got me feeling even more proud to be Jewish. I wouldn’t have gotten to participate in these incredible experiences if it weren’t for attending IC this year. I want to say thank you, BBYO, for giving me the chance to be a part of your Shabbat and Havdallah plans this past weekend. Also, I’d like to give you a huge thank you for making me the smiley and positive person that I am today. To conclude, Shabbat and Havdallah at IC this year were true experiences that made me smile. :)
Rachel Wolk is a BBG from Forest Hills/Rego Park BBYO in Big Apple Region who loves music, dogs, and binge watching tv shows.
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