The beautiful Hyatt Regency Valencia in sunny and warm Southern California hosted the 18th Annual Simxa Shabbaton, a four-day retreat of Jewish learning and celebration, over Thanksgiving weekend.
Participants participated to a Yud Daled Kislev farbrengen, a nature hike shiur on a local mountain trail and 30 lectures on various Torah-related topics ranging from Science to Kabbalah, Israel and parent-children relationships.
The program also included two movie screenings and a Melaveh Malka Kleizmer and Jazz concert by Leo Chulyapov, Sadya Davidoffv, and Yosef Shusterman.
They were treated to ten gourmet kosher meals by The Place Catering of San Diego, CA, and a late night Russian Tea Room featuring a chocolate fountain.
This year’s retreat was well attended by over 200 participants of all backgrounds and walks of life – American, Russian, Bukhari, Persian, Israeli, both secular and observant, and everything in between.
More than 50 children were delighted in the separate boys’ and girls’ programs by the Simxa Kids’ Club planned and conducted by the Simxa children’s staff volunteers.
The Shabbaton speakers, both in English and Russian, captivated the audience often filling the lecture halls to beyond capacity. This year’s guest lecturers were Rabbi Bentzion Laskin of Brighton Beach, NY, Rabbi Yechezkel Rapoport of Shoreline, WA, Rabbi Eli Kogan of Staten Island, NY, Rabbi Aryeh Katzin of Brooklyn, NY, and Crown Heights couple David and Miriam Yerushalmi.
David Yerushalmi, a high-profile international trial attorney, mesmerized the participants with his topic, Islam’s war against the West, while Miriam Yerushalmi, a prolific author and spiritual advisor, won over the hearts of her listeners within minutes of her first presentation on Mastery Over Emotion.
The children’s club programs included an Olive Oil Factory presentation by Rabbi Aron Teleshevsky, a kumzits by the fireplace for younger children by Rabbi Sadya Davidoff, a trip to a local family fun center, a challah-braiding workshop, a Chanukah paint boutique by Rada Konvisser, an inspiring tea-room schmooze with Shimona Davidoff for the older girls, and lots of outdoor games and sports.
The Motzei Shabbos Unity Fair hosted by this year’s Simxa retreat brought together even more guests who came from all across Southern California to meet representatives of different local and Israeli organizations serving the Jewish communities both locally and worldwide.
Many participants sent their reviews after attending this year’s program. A long-time Shabbaton attendee, Rita Freylicher said, “Thank you for a wonderful experience once again. The speakers were phenomenal and the ambiance delightful!”
Another veteran participant, Asya Berwaldt said that this year was the “best ever!” A new participant this year, Miriam Friedfertig of Crown Heights wrote, “Thank you for a lovely Shabbaton getaway! Everyone left with smiles on their faces and happy hearts!”
The organizers, R’ Moshe and Esther Davidoff, said they are very happy with this year’s turnout. “SimXa Shabbaton has been bringing together Jews of virtually every walk of life,” said Mr. Davidoff. “We all come together to share in our Yidishkheit, to learn, to enjoy, and to strengthen each other.”
Mrs. Davidoff added, “SimXa Shabbatons have been a major part of our life for the past 18 years! It is hard to imagine our life without them. Each coming Shabbaton gives us more and more chizzuk to go on despite the many hurdles we encounter along the way. The achdus at our Chai Shabbaton 2018 was immeasurable! We hope to have the zechus to continue the Shabbatons for many years to come, all the way untill we are blessed to make one in Yerushalayim with Moshiach!”