Posted on 02/16/2013 @ 07:15 PM
With the sun creeping down towards the horizon and the buses returning teens from their Day of Service throughout the DC area, the lobby was surprisingly quiet compared to other days. Why? It was Shabbat at AZA BBG IC 2013. Everybody was upstairs showering, spraying cologne and perfume, fixing their hair, and putting the finishing touches on to stand out.
When 5:15pm rolled around, Alephs and BBGs sprinted out of the elevators, rushing to go light candles or to take pictures with friends they haven’t seen in months. I personally took part in the Shabbat Atmosphere - taking pictures with all my friends from CLTC, while making a few new ones along the way. It was incredible. So many people calling out to each other, “Take a picture with me!” or “Can you take this picture of us?” The joyous feeling filled the entire lobby, spreading from person to person, infecting them with smiles and laughter. I took pictures with many of my friends, occasionally making a funny face without their knowledge to tease them.
The dinner was astounding. Sitting with 15 of my closest friends, it was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life. It felt like we hadn’t missed a beat with each other, picking up where we left off on July 1st, when we all went back to our respective homes from Bethany College, West Virginia. The tables were beautifully decorated in white cloths with white and light grey balloons adorning every other table. Over 1,500 teenagers from around the world together celebrating Shabbat in one location was one of the most rewarding experiences ever.
After Aruchat Erev (Dinner), there were 12 different Shabbat services available. I attended Israel’s Influence: More than War & Hummus, which explained that Israel is more than what the general public knows. After every couple of prayers of a traditional Shabbat service, the teens leading the service talked about Israel’s influence and power worldwide
After the services, two Oneg Shabbat program ranging from storytelling to Jewish fraternity meetings to song sessions were offered. I went to Song Session Amplified, which was led by the song leaders of last year’s Summer Experiences, Mikey Pauker and Eric Hunker. I crowded along the front of the stage along with many of my CLTC friends, cheering and singing along with the song leaders, the energy so vibrant and powerful, it was hard to sit still. A couple of friends and I were having such a great time that we elected to stay for the second session: Song Session Unplugged, similar to the previous one, but strictly acoustic and relaxed. It was a great way to unwind and get closer to others sharing the experience.
Shabbat at AZA BBG IC 2013 was one of the most fun and exhilarating Shabbats I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. It was fun not only sharing it with my friends from my region, but also from across the world. There wouldn’t be a single thing about it I would change, only for it to have lasted forever.
Written by Cameron Smith, BBYO North Texas-Oklahoma, IC Press Corps