Chabad of Mequon’s 19th annual Shabbaton this past weekend was a memorable and inspiring experience.
Held at the beautiful and luxurious Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI, special guests for the weekend included Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe, renowned scholar, author and lecturer and the Dean of the Institute of American and Talmudic Law in New York and gifted Cantor and vocalist Chazzan Aryeh Hurwitz who infused the Shabbos with song and spirit.
On Friday afternoon the families began arriving and checking in to the magnificent resort. After settling into their spacious rooms, the women and girls went to light the Shabbos candles in the main Ballroom where the Shabbos dinner would take place. Friday night services were led by Cantor Hurwitz. One could not help but to be touched and inspired by his beautiful and powerful voice.
After services everyone gathered at the beautifully set tables complete with candles, wine and salads for the Shabbos dinner. The Rabbi made Kiddush, followed by many of the families. Each course was just delicious – the gefilte fish, the steaming chicken soup, the Israeli style chicken and all the side dishes. The singing and warm conversation just added to the beauty of the evening.
After dinner, the children went to their program for games, stories and treats while the adults went to the parlor room for the lecture where a huge spread of desserts, pastries, fruits and coffee was prepared. Rabbi Yaffe gave an eye-opening talk on “Reincarnation, Resurrection and Soul Migration – Getting down to earth with the soul.” He gave a powerful presentation on the Torah perspective, filled with meaningful examples and beautiful stories.
After a good night’s sleep and relaxing morning, Shabbos morning began with a breakfast of fruit, cereal, cakes, juice and coffee. Before Shacharis, Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe gave a profound class on mediation and prayer, entitled: “Inner Prayer, the Deepest Journey – How to create a true G-dly experience with prayer.”
Once again, Cantor Hurwitz did an outstanding job leading the service, his singing and cantorial pieces made the Mussaf service so beautiful and moving. Rabbi Yaffe gave an excellent sermon.
Shabbos lunch was another delicious meal: Fried fish, cold cuts, cholent and a buffet of salads. The singing once again added heart and soul to the afternoon. After lunch families spent time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company in the hotel. The large group of teens that attended the Shabbaton “CTeen track” enjoyed a great “question and answer series” with Rabbi Yaffe that lasted a good part of the afternoon.
After Mincha there was a brilliant talk by Rabbi Yaffe on: “Privacy, Press and Prying Minds – The Jewish view on The Right to privacy and the legal obligation
to give private “space” to others.”
As Shabbos came to a close, cantor Hurwitz led a most inspiring and beautiful Havdallah service that was just unprecedented! After Shabbos everyone went to enjoy the game room, spa and the many other services of the hotel.
At 8:00 PM the adults gathered for a candlelit dinner, lecture and concert. Salmon, imported cheeses, lasagna, pastas and sauces, and fresh salads were on the menu. Rabbi Yaffe spoke about a very current issue – Laws and ethics of War in Judaism – Justifications for War; Protecting noncombatants, and Non-conventional weaponry.
During dinner, Cantor Hurwitz did an incredible performance of various cantorial pieces, Chassidic songs and lively tunes. The children (and adults) were thrilled and joined in with dancing, along with Moshe Cohen who joined the musician with incredible talent.
The weekend concluded with a huge breakfast on Sunday morning of hot bagels, lox, cream cheese, fried eggs, waffles, juice, coffee and fruit.