Their buses began to ascend the snowy mountains of San Bernardino a few hours after the chain restrictions were lifted for Highway 38 on January 1st. An unexpected, yet exciting late evening departure foreshadowed other surprises and exhilarating events planned for the Valley Torah High School (VTHS) boys division winter Shabbaton. On arrival, there was fresh powdery snow covering the Alpine Meadows Retreat and Conference Center which delighted the 82 students. Fortunately there was a hot cocoa machine in the dining room which provided warm relief from the cold temperatures.
The boys’ rose early on Friday morning to brace high-energy winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding and “incredibly fun snow tubing,” reported sophomore Yoni Zisblatt. This paved the way to a Shabbos that offered an abundance of gourmet meals, ruach-filled zem-iros, uplifting davening and an inspirational guest speaker, all warm and welcome after the frigid outdoors.
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, founder of Kiruv Organization and founder of the successful web-site DivineInformation.com, delivered passionate words of Torah, emunah and hashkafa followed by private Q&A sessions with the boys. “It was especially exciting to experience an inspiring Shabbos together so distant from familiar city life,” said Director of Student Activities Rabbi Yisroel Semmel.
Throughout Shabbos the students enjoyed active indoor games with their rebbeim. The pyr-amid challenge was neck and neck, keeping everyone at the edge of their seats. Soon after Havdalah, the outdoor activities resumed. Laser tag in the moonlit woods and round robin football in the snow, were two of the highlights leading up to a stimulating melave malka featuring world renowned mentalist Brent Webb, who performed by giving jaw dropping predictions and mind reading acts. The audience was especially floored when Webb read Rabbi Asher Biron’s mind and revealed the name of the historical figure that he had select-ed. “This was the highest quality show I can ever remember seeing,” noted VTHS Dean Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger.
The Shabbaton concluded with a stirring fireside kumsitz complete with roasted marshmal-lows and s’mores. Student Council Vice President Daniel Mishail agreed it had been, “a tru-ly inspirational and bonding experience.”
”Once again, Valley Torah has taken things to the next level,” complimented Rabbi Daniel Grama, VTHS Rebbe and Director of Recruitment. “The retreat was spectacular in every sense of the word. The warm atmosphere, delicious food, great speeches and superb plan-ning of events really made it a memorable Shabbos for our boys.”