Written by Herald Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, 14 December 2013 00:00
The Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) Plainview elementary school held its third Family Shabbaton at the Glen Cove Mansion recently. Families checked in to the hotel on a Friday afternoon and were treated to a pre-Shabbat buffet and each family was given a beautiful Shabbat gift basket, prepared with love by second grade parent Tara Stier.
“I tried very hard to make the welcome baskets present a very warm, personal and thoughtful feeling,” said Stier. “I wanted families to start off right from the lobby feeling very included and special.”
The theme of the Shabbaton was “The Gift of Shabbat,” which focused on what Shabbat brings to the family, and learning to appreciate the gifts. The program included family Torah learning, separate parent and student games, and a family treasure hunt around the hotel. Parents enjoyed meeting and interacting with other parents from the school, and children were able to play with their peers.
After lunch, “we hardly saw our kids at all because they were so busy having fun,” said Melissa Weinick, whose daughter Jordyn is in fifth grade and who attended all three Shabbatons. “This was the best Shabbaton yet. It was so nice to just be able to talk and connect with other HANC parents, and to chat with the teachers on a personal level. It was amazing that practically the entire Judaic Studies staff came with their families.”
Following Friday evening and Saturday morning services, families ate and sang zemirot (Shabbat songs) together in the dining room, and were treated to Divrei Torah (inspirational Torah speeches) given by some of the older elementary-school students. On Friday night, families ate together - whereas at lunchtime on Saturday, parents ate with other parents, and children ate together by grade.
There were even two tables of alumni who, despite having graduated from HANC Plainview, were happy to come to the Shabbaton with their younger siblings.
“Once a part of HANC Plainview, always a part of HANC Plainview,” said Michal Kaufman who is currently a freshman at HANC High School in Uniondale, as she put her arm around her fourth grade teacher Mrs. Malka Halpern.
On Friday evening, after Shabbat-friendly parenting Mad-libs, many families and staff-members remained in the dining room to play interactive games like “Apples to Apples,” “Set,” and “Bananagrams.” Sarah Gross, mother of children in Kindergarten and fourth grade, and a first-time Shabbaton participant, played a very lively game of “Taboo” with principal Rabbi Kalman Fogel and his wife, Debbie, and several families that she had met before, but didn’t know well.
“We see each other at school functions, but until now haven’t had the chance to say much more than a hello,” said Gross. “It was such a fun way to get to know each other.”
The Shabbaton culminated in a Melava Malka party after Shabbat, where Shabbaton participants were joined by other HANC Plainview families who did not spend Shabbat at the hotel. A performance by juggler and magician, Ned Gelfars was enjoyed by all. The evening ended with a buffet dinner and singing and dancing to the dynamic music of Israeli singer and song-writer Sandy Shmuely, who is a HANC Plainview staff member.
“I hope to be able to come for the whole Shabbaton next year,” said second grade parent Suzy Bloom, who attended the Melava Malka.
“You can just tell that everyone had so much fun.”