Another Successful SimXa Shabbaton Inspires Both Russian- and English-Speaking Jews


Another Successful SimXa Shabbaton Inspires Both Russian- and English-Speaking Jews

Yehudis Litvak

This past Thanksgiving weekend SimXa Company conducted its 18th annual shabbaton, which brought together Jews from all around Southern California, as well as Palo Alto, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, and Jerusalem. As usual, the program offered parallel lectures in English and Russian, attracting both Russian Jews and their American, Persian, and Israeli friends and family. All the participants, no matter what language they were most comfortable with, were able to learn and get inspired at the shabbaton, which a long-time participant Asya Berwaldt called “the best ever!”

The shabbaton took place at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel in Valencia, California, and featured ten gourmet kosher meals by The Place Catering of San Diego. The program began with a sushi reception on Thursday afternoon, followed by a Thanksgiving dinner. Then the participants gathered to hear a long-time favorite, Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, the principal of Sinai Hebrew Academy in Queens, New York, and the Executive Director of RAJE (Russian Jewish American Experience). His lectures were well-attended and included such topics as how our perception affects reality and how to discover the greatness in you. The latter took place during a picturesque nature hike at the East and Rice Canyon.

Both returning and new lecturers were received enthusiastically. Rabbi David and Miriam Yerushalmi, first-time speakers at a SimXa event, attracted an eager audience. Rabbi Yerushalmi, a high-profile international trial attorney, mesmerized the participants with his topic, Islam’s war against the West. Miriam Yerushalmi won over the hearts of her listeners within minutes of her first presentation. She spoke on the topics she presented in her recent children’s and adult books, including Beautiful Like a Kallah and The Heavenly Waters. Mrs. Yerushalmi also conducted a very popular meditative dance workshop for women, called Sing, Dance, Clap.

The children’s program was a smashing success, as usual. The highlights included Rabbi Aron Teleshevsky’s olive press presentation, just in time for Chanukah, and an Animaly presentation with a live turkey. The children also enjoyed a trip to a local fun center and a bowling alley.

Teenagers had their own program, which included an Escape Room game, team sports, swimming, and an inspirational program for teenage girls by Shimona Davidoff, who spoke to the girls about ahavas Yisrael and judging favorably.

After Havdalah, children of all ages enjoyed a program with delicious chocolate and marshmallow s’mores bars in the hotel’s fireplace patio, where Rabbi Sadya Davidoff told Chassidic stories with the accompaniment of his guitar.

Meanwhile, the adults participated in a Unity Fair which brought together Jews across the Jewish spectrum. The fair featured several organizations and provided information about the local Jewish events, as well as life in Israel.

Both new and returning participants enjoyed the shabbaton. Igor Kilimnik, first time participant, said, “I felt at home… The atmosphere was warm and pleasurable… My children had lots of fun, they were entertained and taken care of. My not (yet) religious wife liked the lectures and was very pleased with the whole event. We had a great time as a family.”

Another first-time participant, Esther Yadgarova, said, “The inspiring weekend radiated warmth, unity, relaxation and re-charged our souls! Phenomenal speakers delivered lots of food for the soul which I took away to live by and to raise my family.”

Tova Plotitsa, a returning participant, said, “Everything was just wonderful! Rabbis Laskin and Kogan are amazing storytellers. I can listen to them all the time.”

The shabbaton organizers, Moshe and Esther Davidoff, are very happy with this year’s shabbaton. “SimXa Shabbaton has been bringing together Jews of virtually every walk of life,” said Mr. Davidoff. “Russian, Persian, Chassidic and Litvish, observant or not yet observant, young, old, professional, married, single, you name it… We all come together to share in our Yidishkheit, to learn, to enjoy, and to strengthen each other.”

Mrs. Davidoff added, “SimXa Shabbatons have been a major part of our life for the past 18 years! Every year we are very fortunate to have more and more help from our own growing children. Each coming shabbaton gives us more and more chizzuk to go on despite the many hurdles we encounter along the way. The achdus at our Chai Shabbaton 2018 was immeasurable, with the Jewish Unity Fair and the participants from all different walks of life that came to join us. We hope to have the zechus to continue the shabbatons for many years to come, all the way till we are blessed to make one in Yerushalayim with Mashiach!”