One of the key elements that is facilitating the merger of our two campuses is a series of programs and activities that are planned to bring our students together.  Last weekend was our Grade 11 shabbaton.  Starting a year or two ago, we already began implementing joint programming in order to reduce cross-campus duplication.  Our Jewish Student Activities leaders have paved the way for this type of collaboration.  Below is a powerful testament to collaboration and resilience written by guest bloggers Olivia Varkul and Marci Jacobs.

Over the past three years at TanenbaumCHAT,  the Shabbaton program has greatly enhanced  our connection with the school and to our Jewish identities. Shabbatonim give us, as well as many other students, the unique opportunity to observe Shabbat, think more deeply about our Jewish values, enhance our knowledge regarding Zionism and provide us with a strong feeling of community.  Although in school we study many Jewish topics, the Shabbaton is a time where we can be with our friends in an informal setting and apply our knowledge and beliefs learned in class to hands-on activities and discussions.

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go on the grade eleven Shabbaton with students from both TCK and TCW. With the recent announcement of the merger, we feared that there would be tension and segregation between the two campuses. We were both nervous that our Shabbaton experience that we cherish and love would be negatively impacted. Nobody knew what to expect, and it is safe to say we were all extremely worried and uncertain of what was to come over the next couple of days.

When we arrived, our nervous feelings quickly subsided as we realized that the Shabbaton program, which both campuses love so much, would be something that would help to bring us together. Everyone was there with the same intentions: to have an amazing, ruach-filled weekend. The Shabbaton began with ice breakers,  debates about hot topics in Israel and a shabbaton favourite, Kumzitz (campfire songs).  Kumzitz is a program that is so dear to both campuses although each campus runs the Kumsitz in a unique way. This was one of the first times we were able to see TCK and TCW begin to truly mesh their traditions together.  TCK was able to learn new things from TCW and vice versa. Not only did this enhance the Kumzitz experience as a whole, it showed us that both campuses have truly great things to offer and we all have so much to learn from one another.

On Friday afternoon, the special Shabbat feeling began to sink in as we all got ready for Shabbat. This traditional day of rest allows for self reflection. This Shabbat especially gave us the opportunity to contemplate all that has happened and enabled us to keep open minds about the rest of the Shabbaton and about the upcoming school year. At first, it was hard to accept the two campuses, two cultures and two communities will soon be one.  However, as the Shabbaton progressed, we were able to realize the importance of keeping an open mind in the face of change. The merger is not something that will be easy and it will take time to adjust. However, this weekend proved that bringing the best of both campuses together is what is going to make this transition as easy, effective and positive as possible. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to embarking on this journey together.

Shabbat shalom!

Marci Jacobs (Grade 11, TCK) and Olivia Varkul (Grade 11, TCW)

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