Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
60° Rockville, MD
The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Juniors attend Shabbaton at new location

Students participate in grade-wide discussions at Pearlstone Retreat Center. Photo by Abby Chesman.

For 10 years, students and faculty members of the CESJDS high school have become familiar with the experience of riding on buses with their peers down the spiral road that leads to the Capital Camps and Retreat Center (CCRC). On Mar. 1 through Mar. 2, however, the junior class carried on the Shabbaton tradition elsewhere: at the Pearlstone Retreat Center & Immersive Experiences in Reisterstown, MD.

After ZK, Kabbalat Shabbat and a brief grade meeting on Friday morning to relay the schedule for the weekend, the junior class departed from JDS to head to their morning activity: a visit to Sky Zone. Later, they continued to Pearlstone to bring in Shabbat. 

The Shabbaton was initially scheduled for the weekend of Mar. 30 at CCRC. However, after requests from parents to change the date, since that weekend was one where juniors could tour colleges, JDS decided to switch the date. Because of the last minute change, CCRC was already booked for the new weekend, causing JDS to turn to Pearlstone.

“I thought overall [everyone was] really satisfied with the new location,” Ball said. “It was a good space. I think that moving forward, I don’t know that we would make a concrete change one way or the other. But it’s nice to know we have multiple options to think through in terms of our planning.”

Some of the biggest differences between CCRC and Pearlstone was that Pearlstone has smaller hotel rooms, while CCRC has large bunks, which meant less people to a room. For junior Navah Gris, these changes were more positive than negative.

“I thought [the new location] was really fun,” Gris said. “There were just more areas to explore because we hadn’t been there before. It was just a really nice place. I think a lot of people liked the smaller rooms too. I honestly like both of [the locations].”

Despite the change in location, Shabbaton traditions carried on, like the selection of a theme for the weekend that was reflected in activities. Because the Shabbaton followed the leap day and the junior class is now the oldest grade at JDS, the theme was “Leaping into Leadership.” 

Following the theme, students participated in a variety of activities relating to leadership, both in fun ways like playing games such as “Not Your Average Leader,” and in serious ways like having discussions relating to being leaders in the community. 

“I feel like, for a lot of people, [the discussions] really changed their perspectives,” Gris said. “It made a lot of people realize that we [the junior class] are the oldest; if we want the school to be something, it’s our chance to change it. We can do that.”

Upon arrival, the juniors had a grade wide discussion about leaders who they look up to. On Saturday, the grade split up into smaller groups to continue discussions relating to taking on leadership roles. High school history and psychology teacher Matt Cohen accompanied the juniors on their Shabbaton and led some of these group discussions, which he believed to have impacted the students.

“I think that [the discussions] really helped us set the tone of leadership,” Cohen said. “…So that in and of itself allowed people to really think about it from a multitude of different perspectives.”

Despite the unfamiliar location, the pillars of the JDS community remained. For Ball, the junior class was still able to  create a meaningful environment to celebrate Shabbat, which is one of the main goals of all JDS Shabbatonim.

“Having a really good trip [Shabbaton] is very much something that students need to take charge over,” Ball said. “I really felt like the students stepped up and engaged really powerfully… which I think is a testament to the students really wanting to make it a success.”

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About the Contributor
Maiya Blumenthal
Maiya Blumenthal, Opinion Editor
Maiya is so excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She can’t wait to help people share their ideas with the community in this role. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Maiya plays basketball, tennis and piano, and participates in Friendship Circle and the CESJDS Debate Team. Maiya can’t wait to work with the rest of the Lion’s Tale staff to produce interesting and unique content this year.  

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