Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

From Chabad at UCF to the New York City Shabbaton


CHABAD at UCF at Time Square.

The weekend of Oct. 24-27 I was granted a wonderful opportunity to attend the Chabad on Campus Shabbaton in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I haven't had an experience like this since I was a part of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) in Nashville, Tenn.

I lived in Nashville for six years but prior to that I was in Orlando. I attended preschool at the JCC and Hebrew school at Congregation Ohev Shalom. Since high school I haven't felt that strong connection to Judaism while in college. Luckily, Chabad at UCF with Rabbi Chaim and Rivkie Lipskier selected me and 44 other Jewish young adults to embark on this journey. I had the wonderful experience of seeing the city, with my Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority sisters and close friends.

Chabad at UCF at 770 CHABAD Headquarters.

Crown Heights is like an "American Israel" if you will.  Chabad headquarters are in Crown Heights and the Chabad community works together like one you've probably never seen. The kind and gentle atmosphere was also safe and extremely comforting. When I was walking around I didn't feel like a "tourist" in my bright yellow "north face," but rather a part of the community. This was the first time in my life I had celebrated Shabbat to the fullest extent. To be able to let go and immerse myself in the experience of it all really helped me grow and listen to others instead of consuming myself with social media and Candy Crush. Spending Shabbat dinner with Rabbi and Rivkie's family meant a lot and was so amazing to hear stories from Rivkie's 9-year-old grandmother. Apart from the numerous speed dating sessions I attended to find my NJB (Nice Jewish Boy) husband, the Havdallah service was one I will always cherish. Having close to 1,000 students from across the country join in the singing and celebration at the end of another Shabbat meant a lot to me. It was a very moving experience.

The Crown Heights community and the Shabbaton had a wonderful way of celebrating. Lots of dancing, singing, chanting, and of course like any other Jewish celebration, delicious food. During the Shabbaton I was able to make new friends from Arizona, Montreal and New York, amongst countless other schools from around the country. I haven't felt this kind of connection to Judaism since my last BBYO international convention in 2010. The spirit and enthusiasm I took away from the Shabbaton about my own personal Judaism will forever live within me. I can't thank Chabad at UCF enough for allowing us all to attend this wonderful event.  

For more information about Chabad at UCF please visit http://www.jewishucf.com.


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