Albany, New York. Rockville, Maryland. Bayonne, New Jersey. Halifax, Nova Scotia. Harrison, New York. Paramus, New Jersey. Yardley, Pennsylvania. Livingston, New Jersey. Holyoke, Massachusetts. Stony Brook, New York.
All these cities have something in common: Hisoriri.
A volunteer-driven group of Jewish students, Hisoriri has one goal: “rejuvenating Shabbat, together.” It sends coed groups of four to six students to cities with small Jewish communities. These students provide Torah reading, divrei torah, organized youth groups, and an opportunity for community members to meet Jews from other places.
From day one, Hisoriri has had all parties’ interests at heart: both those of the communities, which truly value the energy and dynamism of the students, as well as those of the shabbaton members, who find their weekends enriched by the chance to change the lives of the people around them.
“Hisoriri has given me the opportunity to see different communities and meet new people from different walks of life,” said Racheli Shafier, a sophomore at Stern. Shafier has been on multiple shabbatonim in cities such as Bayonne and Paramus where she ran children’s programming, engaged in lively discourse with the Jewish community members there, and gave divrei torah on varying topics. Shafier professed, “I always gain more than I can give on Hisoriri.”
On the other end, Rabbi Michael Stern of Yardley, Pennsylvania, declared Hisoriri a “program that brings everything needed to have a warm, inviting, educational and inspirational Shabbat experience,” Hisoriri members ran a successful shabbaton in his shul, and Stern’s remarks are not an uncommon refrain. Rabbi Amram Maccabi of Halifax, Nova Scotia, described his shul’s services as “enhanced by Hisoriri’s presence and spirituality” and Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum of Rockville, Maryland, stated that Hisoriri gave his congregation “the full package.”
Rachel Lelonek, a campus representative for Hisoriri and its vice president on the Stern Campus, has worked for Hisoriri for nearly two years and knows the impact it has on everyone involved and is currently going through the steps to make Hisoriri a TAC club (it is already a SOY club). “One good thing about Hisoriri,” said Lelonek, “is that it gives college students the opportunity to partake in a meaningful Shabbat experience that not only benefits themselves, but benefits the Jewish community at large, and really inspires smaller Jewish communities that need role models and people to look up to.” Lelonek described her 50-family congregation in her hometown of North Bellmore, and stated that Hisoriri “allowed me to have a greater appreciation for the involvement of the community members in my small community.” Lelonek added that she feels “really grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to be involved.”
Hisoriri has run over 40 shabbatonim in the year and a half that it has existed, and it continues to offer observant university students an action-packed, influential Shabbat experience. As Hisoriri grows, it allows for the strengthening of many struggling communities, and many Stern students have attested to the powerful impact it has made on them as well. As Shafier says, “Hisoriri shabbatons leave me feeling inspired and rejuvenated.”