Emet Outreach recently held its 4th annual men’s trip to Arizona. Twenty students spent a meaningful week in the sun along with Rabbi Mordechai Kraft, Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov and Rabbi Yakov Musheyev. Geared towards students who have completed Emet’s Fellowship program and are ready for more advanced learning, the trip was an opportunity for the young men to delve into Torah study while relaxing during winter break.
Home base for the group was a majestic estate in Scottsdale Arizona that featured many luxurious amenities, including a heated pool and hot tub. The daily schedule was structured to facilitate learning in the morning and fun in the afternoon. The day started with davening at Ahavas Torah in Scottsdale. After davening, it was time for “morning seder” and Beit Midrash-style learning. The sessions began with a textual-based lesson on a portion of Gemara. The students then broke off into groups to learn with their chavrutas. This was followed by a shiur and then more in-depth study, and “debate” on the stimulating topic at-hand.
“One of our main goals on this trip is to introduce our students to a real appreciation of Gemara study,” Rabbi Fuzaylov said. “We would present them with five lines from Bava Kamma, which on the surface seemed simple. We would then ask them questions on the text, revealing to them how much depth was beneath the surface. This led to heated debates between the students and rabbis on how to properly understand the Gemara."
Following the intense learning and a break for lunch, afternoon excursions included horseback riding, a visit to a shooting range, hiking and go-carting.
A highlight of the trip was a drasha given by Rabbi Ariel Shoshan of Ahavas Torah. He spoke to the group about “achieving greatness” through struggles in life and changing one’s lifestyle, patterns of thinking and actions. His words really made an impression on the students.
Shabbat was spent together at the house and davening was at Congregation Beth Tefillah. Gourmet meals were catered by Samarkand restaurant of Phoenix which specializes in Bukharian cuisine.
“Of equal importance to the Torah learning, is the unique opportunity the trip provides to build lasting connections,” said Rabbi Fuzaylov. “At Emet, our students are like our family and we create deep relationships that will carry them throughout their lives and religious journey. We want our students to know that we will always be there to guide them. The quality time the students spend with each other and with the Emet rabbeim cannot be compared to our experiences back in New York. In Arizona we share pure bonding and we get to know one another in a relaxed way that leaves us all with a deeper connection and lasting memories.”
“One of the truly notable things about the Arizona trip is that most of the 18 and 19-year-olds who attended are public school graduates and this was their first opportunity to learn Torah,” said Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Director and Co-Founder. “The college years are a transformative time when young adults set the direction for their future. At Emet, we are educating unaffiliated students to connect with Judaism through our programing and unforgettable trips like this one. Most importantly, our devoted staff members are great role models for the students on their spiritual journey.”
The Emet students returned to New York refreshed and reinvigorated for their spring learning programs which begin in February.
For further information on Emet programs and upcoming events, visit www.emetoutreach.org
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