May 27, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

From Shabbaton to Parade, 500 Bnei Akiva Teens and Staff Celebrate Israel

(Courtesy of Bnei Akiva) Across the country this past weekend, tens of teens and staff from New York boarded a bus alongside hundreds who flew or embarked on day-long bus rides from multiple cities all across the U.S. and Canada—all headed to meet both old friends and new at one destination: Bnei Akiva’s annual Israel Day Parade (IDP) shabbaton in Honesdale, Pennsylvania and the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York.

After two years without Bnei Akiva’s biggest shabbaton and the annual NYC parade, the Bnei Akiva chanichim and tzevet were overflowing with excitement, ready to reconnect, immerse themselves in the camp environment and support Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Torat Yisrael.

“It was great reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones too. The ruach from start to finish was incredible. I especially enjoyed the slow shira with everyone together,” said Aaron Major, a sophomore at TABC.

As participants arrived at the beautiful Moshava IO campgrounds late Thursday evening and were welcomed with a barbecue, the energy from teens and tzevet alike was palpable. It was a wonderful reunion with friends from the Moshavot, Mach Hach, Bnei Akiva leadership programming, both online and offline, and past shabbatonim. Bnei Akiva’s national team, community shlichim and bogrim–active alumni, arrived in Pennsylvania, too, with more than 500 individuals in attendance.

The theme for the parade and shabbaton was “together again,” mirroring the epic Bnei Akiva reunion that took place. With a high-level and immersive experiential learning programming, the teens explored four of Tanach’s reunions: Moshe and Aharon, Shevet Binyamin and Am Yisrael after Pilegesh B’Giva, Yosef and his brothers, and Rachel and her children. The teens also enjoyed a “Human Museum,” a comic book drawing workshop with Bnei Akiva boger Andrew Galitzer, and camp activities—from tree climbing to volleyball to high ropes and more. Shabbat was especially meaningful, with beautiful tefillot run by the teens, a delicious oneg, Bnei Akiva’s classic slow shira and time to rest and catch up with one another.

The end of Shabbat was marked with a stunning Havdala and an exciting “kachol v’lavan” fireworks show. Teens and tzevet held onto the feeling of Shabbat during a melava malka and then said, “layla tov,” ready for their full day ahead.

“Through our shabbatonim and the experiential chinuch, specifically through their actual Torah learning, youth are instilled with strong values and a commitment to Medinat Yisrael as part of their religious identity. By creating positive experiences around supporting Israel, our teens become strong advocates for Israel for the rest of their lives, many taking on critical leadership roles in our communities,” said Rav Shaul Feldman, executive director, Bnei Akiva of the U.S. and Canada.

Early on Sunday morning, everyone boarded buses and headed to Manhattan to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade alongside thousands of other Israel supporters. In teal shirts and with blue and white pom poms and signs in hand, the group headed up Fifth Avenue, proudly displaying their support and love of Israel. They ended their march on the Upper East Side with pizza, and then began their journeys home.

Following a ruach-filled weekend, even the teens’ departure was filled with positive energy. In just a month’s time, they will reconvene for the summer, many at a Moshava sleepaway camp, Moshava Ba’ir day camp as staff or in Israel on Mach Hach BaAretz.

For more information about Bnei Akiva year-round and summer programming, visit www.bneiakiva.org.

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