This week we celebrated the end of the Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah school year. The "goodbye" festivities began with Shabbat, programing provided by yours truly!
We had a cookoff for both dessert and Cholent. It was amazing, not only was the food great, not only did it run very smoothly, but we connected with guys that we had been having trouble connecting with all year (only shame is it is the end of the year). From 8am to just after shabbat started on Friday, we had boys coming and going to and from our apartment. We had boys cooking in our apartment, coming to take pictures, and coming to just hang out. It was quite exhausting to prepare for this cookoff- having to run all over town for all the supplies they requested, but as Shabbat came along, we saw how worth it all of the hassle truly was. Friday night was the dessert competition, and for the first time all year, 95% of the guys came to the Friday night tish- dessert and singing (it was where the taste testing would be and the awards distributed). It was amazing to have so many guys giving Divrei Torah, singing, and just enjoying their time, all together. The room got a bit hot, but no one seemed to complain!
Shabbat day, at lunch was the cholent cookoff, and the guys seemed to enjoy it so much. All but three guys came for lunch, (usually we only have about 1/3 of the yeshiva) and they all were rooting on their cholent or their friends cholents. After the competition was over we played a parshah game, distributing candy as the prizes, and everyone participated!
In the afternoon, after the competition was over there was an "Ask the Rabbi" session with some of the Yeshivas Rabbis. A lot of the guys came and there was active participation the entire time. Some of the questions the guys were asking made us realize how far they had come this year, and how much influence we had truly had on them.
Sunday and Monday included the staff vs. boys basketball game and the Goodbye Luncheon. The STAFF of course won the game (and even Nate played), and I say of course since they have won every year so far. The luncheon, I heard, was very nice, included sushi and a distribution of Awards to students who were deserving. It ended with a touching tone when the guys took a bus to the kotel for the last time as a group, to say goodbye. A lot of the guys got emotional, finally realizing the year had come to an end.
For the past few days we have been collecting cell phones, blankets, linens, and other assorted lent out items of the year. The boys where packing, so as they realized there was only so much they could take in their suitcases, Nate and I collected a lot of toiletries, books, and other fun stuff. The bulk of what the guys were leaving was donated to a local shelter, but we still got a few things here and there (Nate got speakers for his ipod).
Last night was the first night we slept in an empty building, and despite all the frustrations of the year, we were truly sad it was over. We can not wait for a new group of boys for next year, and after this weekend, we have some really great ideas on how to connect with them earlier in the year!
See you all in a few weeks, as we will be in the US starting June 24th.