(401)j Shabbaton brings young Jewish adults together for bonding, prayer and fun


About 30 of Rhode Island’s future Jewish leaders gathered at Camp JORI, in Wakefield, during the last weekend of August to celebrate their Judaism with prayer, friendship, and various participant-led sessions at (401)j’s second annual Shabbaton.

The weekend began with a meet-and-greet hour, where participants in the Jewish collaborative were able to grab a drink, hang with old friends, and make new ones. Shabbat candle-lighting followed and then the participants walked down to the waterfront for a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat service, led by Adam Cable, and a ma’ariv service, led by Sam Zerin. After services, they gathered in the dining hall for a fabulous community Shabbat dinner.

Saturday’s activities were a mix of meaningful sessions, prayer and camp activities such as swimming and a ropes course. Saturday morning’s service was expertly led by Elisheva Stark and was followed by an insightful Torah discussion with Rabbi Rachel Zerin. (401)j Chair Dan Cohen closed out the service.

In the afternoon, participant Lex Rofes led a nigun, or a song without words, singing session, during which he taught different nigunim and encouraged others to teach as well. Each nigun had a backstory, and the session ended with all participants joyfully singing on their way to dinner.

After dinner, participants enjoyed some free time and then met at the fire pit for havdalah, led by  Pastrami on RI, (401)j’s a capella group. Next was s’mores and campfire songs. Later in the evening, the young adults joined The Proud Painter for a wine and art session, where they painted a scene of the ocean and the beach.

Participants say the weekend created strong bonds between the young Jewish adults.

“While I had been to some (401)j events before, this Shabbaton really helped me feel less like a visitor to (401)j and more like I’m really a part of it myself,” Rofes said.

“[It] was a great chance to relax a little bit with some friendly folks,” he continued. “Some I had never met before, others I had met once or twice, and only a couple had I really known in a real sense before this event. But I left the event feeling like I had gained a number of genuine friends from this experience.”

Yaniv Havusha agreed.

“I thought the Shabbaton was great,” he said. “It was a nice, non-intimidating way to meet other Jewish young professionals in the area and engage in some fun activities. I found the weekend had the perfect mix of everything, allowing for everyone to experience the Shabbaton and Shabbat in their own way which was meaningful to them.”

(401)j is a statewide collaboration open to Jewish adults in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. For more information, contact Michelle Cicchitelli at mcicchitelli@jewishallianceri.org.

HILLARY SCHULMAN of Pawtucket writes occasionally for The Jewish Voice.