This past Shabbos, Bais Menachem Youth Development Program, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania hosted an inaugural Alumni Reunion Shabbaton at its new Poconos Mountains Campus, in conjunction with Aliya Institute’s Summer Shabbaton.
This past Shabbos Bais Menachem Youth Development Program hosted an inaugural Alumni Reunion Shabbaton at its new Poconos Mountains Campus in Pennsylvania. Bais Menachem also welcomed the annual Aliya Institute Summer Shabbaton in conjunction with the reunion, bringing together a group of nearly 75 participants for three days of connection, inspiration and rejuvenation.
Festivities began on erev-Shabbos with a delicious BBQ and time for guests to take a swim in the in-ground pool. Kabolas Shabbos davening was led by Bais Menachem alumnus and popular musician Yosef David who reflected, “Coming out to Bais Menachem’s new grounds in Canadensis Pennsylvania was an unreal experience. The grounds are spacious and beautiful. Spending time with Rabbis Uri Perlman and Ilan Weinberg on the new property filled my heart with joy.”
Seudas Shabbos was inspired by those who wished to share their thoughts and feelings. Aliya’s Rabbi Note Shemtov moved the crowd with a personal recollection of his experience with the Rebbe surrounding his bar mitzvah. In R’ Note’s words, “When we bring the boys away for a Shabbaton we see a whole different person, davening in a different way, learning in a different way, Shabbosing in a different way. And the bond between the boys and their rabbis becomes so much closer.” The seuda transformed into farbrenging with Rabbis Yossi Goodman & Lazer Gajer throughout the night into the early morning hours.
After Shabbos Mevorchim Tehilim and a Likkutei Torah shiur by R’ Uri Perlman, former shaliach Shmuel Rubenstein led a soulful and inspired davening. The seuda farbrengen carried on until Mincha with the staff of Bais Menachem & Aliya sharing and bonding with students past and present. Havdala was followed by a bonfire, singing and BBQ.
“It was an uplifting Shabbos that will keep me inspired for a long time to come,” said Shalom Abenson. The entire atmosphere of the reunion was permeated with genuine warmth and love. Having shared formative years together, alumni and staff were able to use the reunion as a time for personal conversations, reconnecting, sharing guidance and healing. Rubenstein explains, “The staff of Bais Menachem are an example of what it means to be a Chossid in 2020. In a time where the spiritual and the material are either equated or divorced, Bais Menachem’s rabbis emphasizes the deeper message of Chassidus, that all is one, and demonstrate how to work with ourselves and using our unique qualities and talents for the sake of Heaven, is the most wholesome and healthy way to serve Hashem. Thank you, to Uri, Ilan, Reb Pinyeh, and the Aliya crew for this inspiring Shabbos.”
The Poconos campus boasts a diverse range of accommodations including a massive dormitory each room with its own private bathroom, seventeen “motel-style” guest suites along a separate wing, multiple guest cabins and staff housing. The campus, both inside and out, is spacious enough to host large groups and enable young married couples, large families and singles such as bachurim or girls all to have ample, private and comfortable accommodations. Throughout the weekend R’ Lazer Gajer together with Wilkes alum and Aliya regular Shalom Kaye provided everyone gourmet eats prepared and presented in a way that truly enhanced the entire experience.
Sunday was a beautiful day in the Poconos. The weather was perfect and after davening and a delicious brunch, guests enjoyed touring the campus, taking in nature, playing sports and just being together. Aliya organized a hike on a local trail for those interested and everyone returned home truly rejuvenated. “This past Shabbos was incredibly inspiring & uplifting. The new campus is a warm and comforting place with an amazing atmosphere that provokes genuineness and meaningful conversations,” says alumnus Schneur Scop.
Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, founder and director of Aliya shares, “Aliya’s annual summer Shabbaton is always a major highlight of the year which literally transforms lives. This year we were invited to join Bais Menachem for their alumni Shabbaton and the power of both groups together was simply explosive. The guys were all on a crazy high on the drive back to Crown Height and said they never experienced such joy and inspiration before. The feeling was beyond words!”
Bais Menachem is currently raising funds to complete its Poconos Campus. Please visit www.baismenachempoconos.com to learn more about the project and see how you can help raise the standards of our future.