The Shabbaton is over. It was great and we want to first thank everybody who participated. There’s a slight let down that invariably comes after being so involved in planning and executing an event like this. Rabbi Tatz teaches that happiness is a result of moving towards completion of something meaningful. The greatest joy is right before the time of completion, but afterwards there is a decline on the happiness meter. To recalibrate the happiness we need to reframe completed events into steps in the continuing projects of perfecting ourselves, our communities and the world.
From a logistics point of view, things went very smoothly. We had the right amount of people (about 90 for lunch) for the facilities we had. The food was good and plentiful and the meals were relaxed and friendly with lots of good conversation. We added a Friday night communal meal this year, which made a big difference. David and I would like to thank our wives and families and the Greenwald family for the amazing job they did with the planning, serving and cleaning up. Thanks to Congregation Ahavas Yisroel for providing the facilities. A special thanks to Serach and all our hosts for their amazing home hospitality. Finally, thanks to all the speakers for their thoughtful words on individuality, integration and inspiration.
The Melava Malka was well attended with a number of people coming in after Shabbos. Chaim Linn served up some great music, including a live version of Davy Pray, with a special cameo from one of our KGH friends, Richard Maisel, singing a tune he wrote about Yerushalyim many years ago. We also had the pleasure of listening to Jameel at the Muquata talk about the need for us Americans to keep continually connected to Eretz Yisroel. He’s in America to blog about Nefesh B’ Nefesh who have scheduled a live and online Jewish blogger’s conference this Wednesday.
The Serandez (SEZ) people were terrific and friendly, despite the slight age gap between the BBT’ers and the SEZ’ers. However, all the Dvar Torahs were growth focused and that was the common bond on which we planned the event. I’m reading a book by Clay Shirky called “Here Comes Everybody – The Power of Organization without Organizations” in which he describes a Small World network pattern in which small densely connected groups sparsely connect with each other. In our situation, Beyond BT and Serandez were each a densely connected group with similar interests, sparsely connected primarily through David, Serach, Ezzie and myself. If you want to understand the changing social phenomena going on in the Jewish blogosphere and the greater Internet community, this is a good book to read.
One note of interest was that quite a few of the Sez’ers that I talked to had a least one BT parent. The Shabbaton gave me a greater appreciation that our FFB children have quite a different world view than us BT parents. I don’t think we’ve really explored this enough here, so if any child of a BT is game we would really appreciate a post on the topic of FFB children of BT Parents (we’ll put it up anonymously if you want).
In terms of the larger picture, the Shabbaton was planned for the attendees benefit and many expressed appreciation of the great group of people assembled and how wonderful it was to be comfortable just being ourselves without fear of judgment. A meeting like this also sensitizes us to the needs of others – people need places to live, new jobs, shidduchim and often just a listening ear.
One of the projects I’ve been marinating and mentioned at the Shabbaton is called Beyond Kindness or Beyond Chesed. It’s goal is to make us more aware and proactive in our Chesed. For our own sakes and for Klal Yisroel, we need to go beyond doing kindness when it smacks us in the face, to becoming true Baalei Chesed by seeing and seeking out the opportunities around us all the time. G-d willing we’ll flesh this out more in the next few months and perhaps we can collectively take a step towards becoming a growing community of Torah and Chesed pro-activists.