Feb 21, 2013
Largest Russian Jewish Shabbaton
900 people attended the fourth annual biggest and most inspiring event for the Russian Jewish community - the International Russian Shabbaton - at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Connecticut.
For the fourth year in a row, the biggest and most inspiring event for the Russian Jewish community - the International Russian Shabbaton - took place, where about 900 people spent Shabbos as one big family at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Connecticut. It truly was “A Weekend to Remember.”
The annual event, which was hosted and organized by Chamah International and Lubavitch Youth Organization, took place only over the course of a couple of days, but the impression is long-lasting. The inspiration gleaned from the many lectures and workshops, as well as from the communal seudas, enthused the participants, giving them an appreciation and excitement for Yiddishkeit for the rest of the year.
About 900 people attended the Shabbaton, among them over 300 children and 100 singles and students. With G-d’s help, the Shabbaton has become an international event; guests came from across the United States, Canada, and Ukraine; and a group of 50 students from Moscow joined as well.
An Elaborate Affair
To make the Shabbaton an absolute success, Chamah International rabbis Hillel Zaltzman, Moshiach Chudaitov, Binyomin Malachovski and Benzion Laskin, and the Lubavitch Youth organization program director Rabbi Kasriel Kastel, went all out—ordering the finest food and inviting the most sought-after lecturers and highly-acclaimed personalities in the Jewish world today.
The Shabbaton was extremely well organized, with every minute being taken into account. During each hour between meals, four lectures, panels and workshops simultaneously took place, in either Russian or English. Rabbi Chaim Miller, the author of the Gutnick Chumash, led a special guided kabalistic Shabbat service. Other speakers included Rabbi Dovber Pinson, Dean of the IYUUN center; Mrs. Esther Segal, popular Israeli TV host and author; Rabbi Dovid Karpov of the Moscow chapter of Chamah; Mrs. Chedva Federman from Milwaukee; Mrs. Mattie Pil from San Francisco; Mrs. Basya Chudaitov; and many, many more.
The Shabbaton attracted Russian American media personalities—from newspapers, TV, and radio—including Boris Tenzer, popular TV host on the Russian American channel, Brooklyn District leader Ari Kagan and Mikhail Nemirovsky, editor in chief of the Russian Forward, and others.
On Motzei Shabbos, internationally-acclaimed Israeli composer and singer Zlata Razdolina gave a special concert for women with the participation of Chedva Federman. Their songs on Jewish subjects brought many women to tears, and at the end, to dances. A special performance of world renowned cellist, Borislav Strulev, also took place during the melave malka, playing “Jewish Jazz “ music composed by Zlata Razdolina, which was enjoyed by the whole crowd. Comedian MODI, kept the crowd laughing throughout his entire performance, and singer, Choni Goldman, and the Rambam Orchestra had the crowd singing and dancing with beautiful ahavas yisroel spirit and Adar joy until after midnight.
The keynote speaker and Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, delivered a poignant speech at the melave malka, which was enthusiastically received by all the guests, leaving them inspired.
At the Sunday afternoon barbeque, one of the guests, Mrs. Sofiya Tamarkin from Philadelphia took the stage and thanked Chamah and Lubavitch Youth Organization profusely for allowing her parents to experience their first Shabbos, inspiring them to pursue their Yiddishkeit and heritage.
Chamah executive staff Rabbis Chudaitov, Zaltzman, Malachovski and Laskin delivered stirring words and throughout the affair. Other instrumental players in making the Shabbaton a success were the chazzanim, Berele Zaltzman and Dovid Kaytak.
The food on Shabbos and throughout the weekend was of the highest quality, yet people said, “We didn’t come for the food; we’re looking for spirituality!”
Chamah officers Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman, Rabbi Moshiach Chudaitov, and program director Rabbi Benzion Laskin, worked tirelessly for many weeks to organize the event.
A very special thanks must be expressed to the Chamah staff who worked continuously behind the scenes to make this event the great success that it was: Registration Committee, Chana Grifkin and Elana Litkowski, as well as Chanie Zohar and Levi Levin coordinated a significant amount of this wonderful event and contributed greatly to all of the operations.
Rabbi Baruch Lepkivker, program director of Bris Avrohom, also played a key role in the program preparation with the help of Rabbi Eli Kogan.
Mrs. Chanah Zaltzman, co-director of Chabad of Kingsborough and Gan Israel Chamah day camp in Brighton Beach, directed a successful children’s program for more than 300 children with tremendous dedication, and Mrs. Sima Vernik successfully ran the babysitting program.
Rabbi Dan and Mrs. Sara Rodkin from Shaloh House in Boston ran a well-attended singles’ program that lasted well into the night. And special thanks to Mrs. Chedva Federman, who arranged a grand raffle with many valuable items.
Rabbi Menachem Chuzhin, operator of our Mobile Jewish Center in New York City, ran a Russian Jewish book sale of Chamah publications and other publishers.
Chamah and the Lubavitch Youth organization express special thanks to the following Shluchim for their tireless efforts and participation, and for giving powerful lectures that contributed to the success of the Shabbaton:
Rabbi Velvel Belinsky, ARIEL Jewish Russian Center, Baltimore, Rabbi Eli Blokh, Chabad of Rego Park, Queens, Rabbi Chaim and Mrs. Rivky Brikman, Chabad of Sea Gate, Rabbi Dan Dashevsky, Camp F.R.E.E, Rabbi Sholom Goldshmid, Lubavitch Center for Russian Jewry in Philadelphia, Rabbi Yaakov Elman and Mrs. Chedva Federman, Chabad of Milwaukee, Rabbi Eli Kogan, Jewish Russian Learning Center, Staten Island and Chabad.org, Rabbi Zeev and and Mrs. Esther Kushnirsky, Jewish Russian Learning Center, Rabbi Baruch Lepkivker, Bris Avrohom, NJ, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Levin, Mrs. Doba Levin, and Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Chabad of Kensington, Rabbis Hirsh, Dovid and Avremele Okonov, FREE of Brighton Beach, Rabbi Dan and Mrs. Sara Rodkin, Shaloh House, Boston, Rabbi Berel Zaltzman, Bris Avrohom, NJ
Rabbi Ephraim Zaltzman and Mrs. Chana Zaltzman, Chabad of Kingsborough College and Young Israel of Brighton Beach, and many more.
The weekend retreat successfully accomplished its main goal: to provide Shluchim with a special event that would bring their Russian-Jewish congregants together and better acquaint them with the beauty of our heritage through celebrating Shabbat, attending inspiring and educational seminars with the ultimate goal of uplifting their Jewish identity, instilling a love of Israel, sharing ideas, and forming new and lasting friendships.
Many participants thanked Chamah and Lubavitch Youth Organization with glistening eyes, saying that the spirit of the Shabbaton would last for the entire coming year. The only regret of the organizers—that they didn’t have space for even more participants who called during the final week of registration.
Many guests returned from the previous year, saying that they had waited the entire year for the next Shabbaton. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and many people even asked for a spot to be reserved at the next Shabbaton.