Shabbos of Chizuk

Rabbi Gonsky’s eighth-grade class embarked on an unforgettable Shabbos of Chizuk. “I always wanted to do this,” says Rabbi Dovid Gonsky, “and I am glad I finally did it this year. Spending time with my talmidim outside the classroom environment allowed me to witness their unique personalities and strengths in a different light."

The picturesque desert landscape of Sedona served as the backdrop for this weekend filled with Torah, tefillah, and inspiration.

The much-anticipated class trip began Friday morning, right after Shacharis. Excitement filled the air as the boys climbed into the vans, ready to experience a Shabbos like never before. The first activity was a scenic hike, a perfect way to enjoy the stunning red rock formations that define Sedona.

After a morning of exploration, we made our way to a spacious home nestled alongside Oak Creek. Our accommodations provided the perfect location for us to relax and bond as a group. The sounds of flowing water and rustling leaves created a serene atmosphere, providing a nice mixture of leisure and exploration activities.

Some of the students assisted Rabbi Gonsky in erecting the eiruv, (thank you Mr. David!!!) while others enjoyed a lunchtime feast of hot cholent and kugel on the spacious deck while engaged in lively discussions; still others opted for quiet moments in the forest or by the creek.

As the day slowly transitioned to night, the boys gathered on the deck for Kabolas Shabbos, led by Mr. Aryeh Leib Bloom. The setting sun and crisp mountain air, together with the melodies of Lecha Dodi, lent to the elevated atmosphere.

As Shabbos continued, we enjoyed a magnificent Shabbos seudah, filled with zmiros and words of Torah by special guest visitor from Lakewood, Rabbi Yossi Penzer. After the seuda, the talmidim bonded, schmoozing and playing games, fostering a sense of achdus and friendship among the class.

On Shabbos morning, between Shachris and kriyas ha’Torah, we enjoyed a lavish outdoor milchig kiddush. At the Shabbos day meal, we heard divrei Torah from the talmidim and enjoyed a variety of sefardic and ashkenazik zemiros.  

On Motzoei Shabbos, the class participated in team-building activities and games. They then gathered around a crackling bonfire with pizza, listening to a story by Rabbi Penzer, and enjoying a kumzitz led by Rabbi Binyomin Mandel.

On Sunday morning, the eighth-grade boys prepared to leave Sedona after an inspiring and uplifting “Shabbos of Chizuk.” As the van pulled away down the winding roads of Sedona back to Phoenix, they took the inspiration with them. The memories of the Torah and laughter, the glow and warmth of the bonfire, and the special bonds formed over Shabbos will remain etched in their memories.