Question: What do you get when you take an idea from two Epstein Hillel School (EHS) moms, mix it with CJP funding, two rabbis and the support of six area Jewish organizations?  

Answer: The first “Shabbat Unplugged: A North Shore Community Shabbaton”!

Last spring, EHS parents Laura Shulman Brochstein and Rachelle Kagan Dubow approached EHS Director of Admissions & Marketing Jen Stam Goldberg, with an idea. Wouldn’t it be great, they suggested, if the EHS team were to plan a community-wide Shabbaton? Jen loved the idea and committed to submitting an application to CJP’s North Shore Jewish Community Grants program. With the support of Jewish Teen Initiative, Temples Sinai, Emanu-el and Shirat Hayam, as well as Chabad of the North Shore and JCCNS, EHS was granted $5,000 from CJP for the first “Shabbat Unplugged.”

Following months of planning, 30 families with kids ranging in age from infant to 15 years old gathered at Camp Yavneh in beautiful Northwood, N.H., for what was, by all accounts, an amazing weekend.

“We had the best time this weekend! I can’t stop thinking about how much fun we had and how I can’t wait to do this again next year and have it be an annual tradition.”
—Anonymous via survey

From the start, when everyone arrived and shared a meaningful Shabbat dinner, there was magic in the air. Strangers and familiar faces became friends. Children of all ages worked together during Torah time, beading, teaming up for a scavenger hunt and playing sports. Parents participated in alternative Torah, yoga and a wine and chocolate reception. Families hiked together, flexed their teamwork skills in a 25-part group challenge, enjoyed a Shabbat service, a Havdalah campfire and engaged in the age old s’mores debate: tan or burnt marshmallows?

Blessed with picture-perfect weather, boys and girls of all ages were exploring, making new friends and taking their turns playing gaga, tetherball and tennis. Of course, they had to squeeze it in with swimming, sailing, kayaking and stickers, too!

“Thank you to all of the people who put together this event. We had so much fun from the beginning until the end. It was like being with old friends, even though many of us had just met. We can’t say enough about the location, the atmosphere, the food and, of course, the whole program! What a wonderful experience! Can’t wait to see everyone again next year!!!”
—Yulia Fein

With the huge success of  “Shabbat Unplugged” 2018 in the books, EHS is already looking ahead to 2019 for what promises to be a fabulous experience for Jewish families of the North Shore.

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Families ended the day Saturday at a Havdallah campfire complete with s’mores.
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Families enjoying Shabbat dinner shortly after arriving at camp.
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Friends cooling off in a kayak.

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