April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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MTA Yeshiva-Wide Shabbaton Features Rav and Rebbetzin Schachter

(Courtesy of MTA) This past Shabbos, MTA held its annual yeshiva-wide shabbaton. Typically a highlight of the year, this year’s shabbaton was extra special as MTA was honored to be joined by Moreinu HaRav and Rebbetzin Schachter, shlita. It’s not easy to put into words how incredibly meaningful and enjoyable it was. MTA shabbatons are always exciting, inspiring and great opportunities to bond with classmates and rebbeim, and that was certainly still true, but MTA reached new heights this year.

Rav Schachter, shlita is one of the foremost poskim of our time, and is extremely busy, especially during this eis tzara. When the administrative team at MTA reached out to invite the Schachters to attend the shabbaton, it was thought to be a long shot at best. Excitedly, they got word last week that the Shcachters would like to join, and plans were finalized to make sure the programming would be top-notch.

Rabbi Shimon Schenker, menahel at MTA, and Rabbi Konigsberg, the associate principal, along with Rabbi Akiva Ackerman, who helps direct student activities, planned the shabbaton from start to finish. One of the shabbaton’s highlights was that it was bookended by siyumim, beginning on Thursday night, when a siyum on Daf Yomi Seder Nashim was celebrated in yeshiva, before the talmidim left for the shabbaton activities.

Following the siyum, the talmidim left for Kartrite to enjoy some time in the water park that was rented out for their enjoyment. After arriving at the hotel, a midnight barbecue was served, and the boys handed in their cell phones for the weekend to ensure maximum engagement with each other and with the programming. This gesture has become an important aspect of the shabbaton and its culture, as it truly enhances the bonding and achdus that are trademarks of MTA shabbatonim.

Friday’s programming kept the talmidim busy with learning, football, games, great food and time to unwind. There was also an optional hike led by MTA’s history teacher and director of college guidance, Murray Sragow. The Schachters arrived at the hotel a couple hours before Shabbos, and their presence was felt by everyone. One of the most outstanding traits of the Schachter family is their approachability. Both the rav and rebbetzin interacted with the talmidim and answered their questions.

Shabbos began with a beautiful davening, led by MTA’s own Rabbi Konigsberg. During davening Rabbi Schenker gave an inspiring sicha framing the goals of the shabbaton and discussing the talmidims’ ability to connect with the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. Upon arriving in the dining room for the seuda, the boys were seated with their rebbeim, where they found pictures of the captives at each person’s seat. This helped set the tone for the theme of the shabbaton, Libeinu B’Mizrach. Everyone who spoke addressed the current situation in Israel, and how the talmidim can do their part. MTA students are on the “spiritual front lines” and the learning over Shabbos definitely felt more meaningful.

The seuda was followed by various panel discussions, then a tisch that included a question and answer session with Moreinu Harav Schachter. It was incredible to learn from the rav and hear insightful and in-depth answers to each question asked. Every talmid understood that he was in the presence of greatness, and it truly enhanced the Shabbos experience.

Shabbos morning tefilla, led by MTA Rebbe Rabbi Axelrod, as well as Rabbi Konigsberg and MTA senior Alex Cooper of Teaneck, was especially moving. MTA’ Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Taubes addressed everyone, and each grade was treated to a gala kiddush following davening. The seuda was served after each shiur had the opportunity to meet with their rebbeim.

MTA was fortunate to have another very special guest with his family at the shabbaton. Dr. Ari Gordon, director of Muslim-Jewish relations at the American Jewish Committee who addressed students, faculty and rebbeim about his experiences working towards increasing connections with various Muslim countries. His lecture was fascinating.

Shabbos concluded after shalosh seudos with a moving kumzitz. Words of chizuk from MTA rebbeim and students were shared over Shabbos, and each one was excellent. Following Havdala, talmidim finished off the last few perakim of Mishnayos Seder Taharos so the night could be capped off with the second siyum of the shabbaton—on all of Shisha Sidrei Mishna. It was incredible to see all of the talmidim celebrating their accomplishments in learning.

A special raffle was drawn with a highly coveted prize: One talmid and a friend can learn with Rav Schachter during the month of Kislev. Shua Ratzkerof Bergenfield won, and is still looking for suggestions as to which friend he should choose, because they are all begging. The Schachters did not leave early, but instead stayed to dance and partake in melave malka with the talmidim. It was only once the program concluded that they departed.

Rav Schachter said of the shabbaton: “It is incredible what you have created here. When I was a talmid in MTA I could never have dreamed of such a Shabbos. You should all be very proud of what you have.” Additionally, Rebbetzin Schachter said she really enjoyed her experience, and hopes to attend more MTA shabbatons in the near future.

Being a part of the institution that is Yeshiva University allows for the school to have many unique privileges. MTA often joins YU programming, especially as they relate to the current situation in Eretz Yisrael. Additionally, the shared beit midrash a significant advantage to being on the YU campus. It allows for YU rebbeim, including Rav Schachter, to spend significant portions of their time learning with and speaking to MTA talmidim. MTA is grateful to have strong connections with YU, and looks forward to continuing to cultivate that kesher as time goes on.

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