By Michal Seinfeld | Rosh Zach, Scarsdale

On Thursday, August 29, Roshim, Mazkirim, Shlichim, and Bogrim from all over the US & Canada headed to Moshava IO for an amazing learning experience and a fun time to make new friends. When we all arrived, we were mostly pretty exhausted from our long bus rides or plane rides and we were a little nervous not knowing what to anticipate. We quickly started having activities, getting into smaller groups and learning names and getting to know everyone. When the bus came in later ghat night from the midwest, I loved seeing everyone already there to help them with their bags. Everyone took at least one bag, and no one complained, they were all so happy to just help out — it was clear we were on a leadership Shabbaton. This was when I realized how impactful this Shabbat was going to be.

Finally, on Friday, everyone joined together. It was a jam-packed day with so many fun activities and learning opportunities. We learned about some technical matters, and got to meet with our Galil and started planning for the year ahead. We also got to spend a lot of time learning new ways to interpret our slogan, “Torah v’Avodah.” We were taught how important it is to convey this message properly to our chanichim throughout the year. We also accomplished what Avodah means in the context of today, when people aren’t making Aliyah with the intentions of physically building the land. We established that it is our duty to go to Israel and make the state as amazing as it can be. We learned to strengthen the passion towards the state of Israel in ourselves, and to be able to call ourselves zionistic Jews without wavering.

Friday night was a whole journey unto itself. It started off with mifkad and went right into a beautiful kabbalat Shabbat. Voices on both sides of the mechitza were equally loud, with much dancing and singing. Everyone was so happy to welcome in Shabbat together. We then started dinner, we had amazing conversations with people we did not even know the day before. We weren’t sitting for long, because shorty after we sat down singing and dancing started again. No one was left sitting at a table, everyone was on their feet having fun. After dinner and dancing, we sat down for an uplifting and inspiring tisch. After two days of non-stop activities, no sleep and a lot of travel it would be expected of us to be exhausted, but that was the loudest part of the night. We stood and jumped on unstable benches, clapped until our hands were numb, singing in unison. This, I believe, shows who we are as leaders of Bnei Akiva. Even though we had just been through so much in two days, our energy was endless. This is the kind of spirit that we want to bring home to our communities to our sniffim and other programs. We want to have the energy for the chanichim to pick up on and make the Shabbat even more special. Shabbat was ended off with a beautiful Havdallah and dancing once again. On Sunday we continued with learning how to make this year the best it could be.

Although all of these activities, speeches and sessions were so amazing, the best part would have to be the people. Everyone was so warm and welcoming that despite knowing almost no one when coming to the Shabbaton, I was able to make new bonds with people that I would not have met without Bnei Akiva. Everyone just wants to help everyone else which is so incredible to see. The devotion of so many people towards this common goal of Bnei Akiva was so clear and inspiring. The ruach and the voices, showed how much we have to contribute back home at our sniffim. The unity and achdus we have, even though so many of us had just met was unbelievable. I am pleased to announce that each and every snif of BANA is in amazing and capable hands, devoted, passionate and excited about leading their sniffim in the ways of Torah v’Avodah.

By: Benji Marcus | Mazkir, Pittsburgh

Just before another amazing year of Bnei Akiva kicks off, Roshim and Mazkirim from every galil in the U.S. and Canada went off to Moshava Indian Orchard for Kenes Avodah, an incredible leadership shabbaton. The main purpose of the shabbaton was to educate on how to run successful snifim and to offer a support system to current leaders of the Bnei Akiva movement. Over the course of the shabbaton, we heard from many great speakers, including pre-shabbat video calls from Israel from the directors of Machach Ba’aretz, Moshava Ba’ir, Yeshivat Torah V’avoda, Midreshet Torah V’avodah, and many more. We also heard from Natalie Vinegar, who runs Bnei Akiva marketing, about Bnei Akiva’s distinctive brand as well as unique, newly set-up websites for each, individual galil.We also heard from our fearless leader, Rav Shaul Feldman, who discussed both the similarities between our Bnei Akiva shlichim and the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s shlichim, and the source in the Torah for our core, guiding idea of Torah V’Avodah.

We began our Shabbat with mifkad and a quick inspirational address from Rav Shaul. Then, we went into an inspiring Kabbalat Shabbat. Later, after dinner, we immediately went into tish mode. The tish and singing was lead by Shabbos (yes, that is his name), who discussed ideas of chassidus and his family’s special connection to it. Pressing the fast forward button all the way to slow shira, (which was also led by Shabbos), we listened to Alan Silverman, director of I.O. He talked about an antisemitic encounter he passionately dealt with as a child, growing up in rural Oklahoma. We concluded Shabbat with a powerful havdalah, and in true Bnei Akiva fashion, a seemingly never ending, sha-sha-shavua tov! Motzei Shabbat consisted of a fun and relaxing dinner of pizza and a dance party, which was a great way to cap off the shabbaton.

In the early morning we got up to get on the midwest bus back home. That morning was the first of the daily shofar blowing, symbolically waking us up from the summer to the upcoming chagim of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and ultimately for a fresh and exciting year of Bnei Akiva in the U.S. and Canada!