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Weekend to Remember IV

26/02/2013 - 16 Adar 5773

For the fourth year in a row, the biggest and most inspiring event for the Russian Jewish community - the International Russian Shabbaton - took place, where about 900 people spent Shabbos as one big family at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Connecticut. It truly was “A Weekend to Remember.”


The annual event, which was hosted and organized by Chamah International and LYO, took place only over the course of a couple of days, but the impression is long-lasting. The inspiration gleaned from the many lectures and workshops, as well as from the communal festive meals, enthused the participants, giving them an appreciation and excitement for being Jewish for the rest of the year.

About 900 people attended the Shabbaton, among them over 300 children and 100 singles and students. With G-d’s help, the Shabbaton has become an international event; guests came from across the United States, Canada, and Ukraine; and a group of 50 students from Moscow joined as well.

An Elaborate Affair

To make the Shabbaton an absolute success, Chamah International rabbis Hillel ZaltzmanMoshiach ChudaitovBinyomin Malachovski and Benzion Laskin, and LYO's program director Rabbi Kasriel Kastel, went all out—ordering the finest food and inviting the most sought-after lecturers and highly-acclaimed personalities in the Jewish world today.

The Shabbaton was extremely well organized, with every minute being taken into account. During each hour between meals, four lectures, panels and workshops simultaneously took place, in either Russian or English. It attracted Russian American media personalities—from newspapers, TV, and radio—including Boris Tenzer, popular TV host on the Russian American channel, Brooklyn District leaderAri Kagan and Mikhail Nemirovsky, editor in chief of the Russian Forward, and others.

On Motzei Shabbos, internationally-acclaimed Israeli composer and singer Zlata Razdolina gave a special concert for women with the participation of Chedva Federman. Their songs on Jewish subjects brought many women to tears, and at the end, to dances. A special performance of world renowned cellist, Borislav Strulev, also took place during the melave malka, playing “Jewish Jazz “ music composed by Zlata Razdolina, which was enjoyed by the whole crowd. Comedian MODI, kept the crowd laughing throughout his entire performance, and singer, Choni Goldman, and the Rambam Orchestra had the crowd singing and dancing with beautiful ahavas yisroel spirit and Adar joy until after midnight.

The keynote speaker and Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, delivered a poignant speech at the melave malka, which was enthusiastically received by all the guests, leaving them inspired.

At the Sunday afternoon barbeque, one of the guests, Mrs. Sofiya Tamarkin from Philadelphia took the stage and thanked Chamah and LYO profusely for allowing her parents to experience their first Shabbos, inspiring them to pursue their Yiddishkeit and heritage. 

Chamah executive staff Rabbis Chudaitov, Zaltzman, Malachovski and Laskin delivered stirring words and throughout the affair. Other instrumental players in making the Shabbaton a success were the chazzanim, Berele Zaltzman and Dovid Kaytak. 

The food on Shabbos and throughout the weekend was of the highest quality, yet people said, “We didn’t come for the food; we’re looking for spirituality!”

The weekend retreat successfully accomplished its main goal: to provide the Russian community with a special event bringing them together and better acquainting them with the beauty of our heritage through celebrating Shabbat, attending inspiring and educational seminars with the ultimate goal of uplifting their Jewish identity, instilling a love of Israel, sharing ideas, and forming new and lasting friendships.


Many participants thanked Chamah and LYO with glistening eyes, saying that the spirit of the Shabbaton would last for the entire coming year. The only regret of the organizers—that they didn’t have space for even more participants who called during the final week of registration.

Many guests returned from the previous year, saying that they had waited the entire year for the next Shabbaton. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and many people even asked for a spot to be reserved at the next Shabbaton.