Freshman Retreat 5776

October 21, 2015

2B6A8269You might say that Frisch’s annual Freshman Retreat, where cubs become cougars, was a roaring success.

Taking place over a period of four days – from Thursday to Sunday – at the Raleigh hotel in the Catskills, the Retreat allowed freshmen and their big brothers and sisters in the senior class to further deepen their connections with each other and the numerous faculty who came up to the hotel, many of them with their families; immerse themselves in Jewish learning and spiritual growth; and have a blast playing icebreaker games, sports and a beautiful Saturday night bonfire with singing and dancing.

“Our annual Freshman Retreat is an excellent way to instill some Cougar pride and for new students to Frisch to bond with each other in a setting outside of the classroom,” said Rabbi Eli Ciner. “These few days that we spend together learning, growing and having fun sets the tone for the rest of the year and the next four years of high school.”

Sessions included Thursday night icebreakers run by the seniors, designed to introduce freshmen to peers from other classes with whom they might not have had a chance to get to know.

“It was really interesting to be on the Retreat  as a senior adviser because I got to be behind the scenes and have a real hand in helping this year’s freshmen have the best experience possible,” said Abigail Raykher. “In a way, it was like coming full circle for me and my friends, who remember very well our own Freshman Retreat.”

A Friday morning session focused on the students getting pieces of paper listing all the things of which to take advantage at Frisch (classes and electives, sports and clubs, Israel activism, opportunities for religious growth and more) and then having students rate the top three things they wanted to work on during the coming year. Students also enjoyed an exciting and competitive panoply hosted by Rabbi David Goldfischer, Assistant Principal, where students realized that each of them has special areas of knowledge that will help the entire team advance in the game. 2B6A8244A Shabbat afternoon activity, Zoom, involved faculty members showing groups of students a special picture book where each page zoomed out farther until the big picture, at the book’s conclusion, could be fully realized. It was a fitting metaphor for how students could retain perspective as they craft their own high school stories.

Shabbat ended with a beautiful and spiritually-uplifting havdalah ceremony and a round of singing and dancing. Students enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by a grand finale bonfire before a Sunday morning breakfast and departure back to school.

“Freshman Retreat was one of the best experiences ever,” said Addison Hartman, a proud new Cougar. “I experienced unity of a whole grade and met many new friends, who I will be close with throughout my Frisch experience. My favorite part of Freshman Retreat was the bonfire on Motzei Shabbas where everyone was together, standing around the huge fire and singing and dancing.”

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Rabbi JZ Spier, the freshmen grade dean and Director of Informal Education, helped run the Shabbaton with Rabbi Goldfischer. “The theme of the Shabbaton, like the Frisch motto in general was to highlight the uniqueness of the individual, but the collective power of community,” he explained. “This retreat is a perfect way to introduce students to the culture of the school and get them excited to explore what makes them unique, but to remember that together, we are stronger.”