This past weekend Jewish students from miles apart were brought together to share their common bond as Russian Jews. These students shared a bond that allowed them to be open and honest with each other, through laughter, discussion, and emotional conversation.
Eight Russian Jewish students from the University of Maryland joined Russian Jewish students from Brooklyn College in a first Russian Shabbaton in New York. One student reflected on the weekend: "It's like we all shared something unique by having the same experiences being of Russian Jewish heritage, yet having those similar experiences miles and miles away from each other."
The group spent the weekend touring the city while being introduced to basic Jewish concepts. They experienced Shabbat dinner and Shabbat services together. They watched a heart- warming and emotional film "Everything is Illuminated" about family history and the Holocaust.
For many of the students, the Shabbaton was their first Shabbat experience ever. They were able to share experiences and learn about Havdalah. They enjoyed each other's company at a comedy show and at a nightclub. One of the students from UMD said: "My favorite part was probably the comedy club and just hanging out with everybody laughing uncontrollably about ourselves and our experiences."
The students shared a bond, one that was carried hundreds of miles apart. The New York Shabbaton was an opportunity for Russian Jewish students to come together and relate with other students who have shared the same experiences, experiences that remain prevalent in their culture and in their day-to-day lives. One student said it best: "I guess what I liked most about spending a day with all of you was meeting a group of people with whom I had so much in common with." This weekend marked the beginning of a beautiful journey.