Reflections on the Tikvah Family Shabbaton

This reflection was written by Emma Gelb, a long-time Ramah staff-member, sharing her thoughts on this past weekend’s Tikvah Family Shabbaton.

There are countless things I love about camp. One of my absolute favorite things over the past few years has been working at the Tikvah Family Shabbaton.

The Tikvah Family Shabbaton is a weekend retreat held each year for families who have children with disabilities. What I love so much about the Shabbaton is that it is geared towards each individual family member attending. There are programs for parents, their children who have special needs, and siblings who don’t.

When I think about my experiences at the Tikvah Shabbaton as a whole, the two words that come to mind are community and meaning. Each year when I experience these special weekends, I am reminded of just how strong our community is and the meaning it brings to me. This past weekend while at the Shabbaton, I got to play like a kid in the bouncy house, have raw and meaningful conversations in our “sib shops,” and learned more about our families and staff through meal conversations and bonfire shenanigans. I also got to challenge my thinking in discussions with our tzevet (staff) and to spend time with a group of people who value one another so much – both as individuals and as a community.

Not only does the Tikvah Family Shabbaton provide all of these amazing experiences, but the Tikvah Shabbatonim are unique because of how accepting they are. While many communities and experiences we engage in throughout our daily lives claim to be accepting, I find that few follow through and actually feel completely accepting. The Tikvah Shabbatonim are among the rare times when I feel there is true acceptance for everyone present.

I could ramble on and on about how much I love the Tikvah Shabbatonim, what they mean to me and how much they have impacted my life, but that would take forever. Instead, I would like to end by taking a moment to challenge myself and others to surround ourselves with those who make us truly happy and to work on strengthening our communities and making them more accepting. I can’t wait until the next Tikvah Shabbaton – I hope to see some of you there!