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Shabbat is a very special time at camp, the highlight of the week for many CYJers. It’s a time where we step back from our normally action-packed schedule and relax, stay in the moment, and connect with each other in a deeper way. No one in the world does Shabbat quite like CYJ-Texas, which could explain why so many alumni think back on it so fondly.

CYJ is a shomer Shabbat camp, meaning we don’t use electricity or fire, write, play instruments, or do any other work from Friday night to Saturday night. Normal activities end early on Friday afternoon, giving the whole camp time to clean up camp and change into their best Shabbat outfits.

Before Shabbat begins, the camp gathers for the Shabbat Show. After preparing all week, campers in the dance, music, and video electives perform and display everything they learned for the community. We have Friday evening services in our Beit Ha’am, followed by a delicious Shabbat dinner, (chicken, matzah ball soup, potatoes, challah, mmmmm….). When everyone is full, campers do a fun Shabbat friendly activity called Oneg.

After a late wake-up Shabbat morning, we assemble for breakfast and morning services. Campers can choose from a variety of t’fillot (prayer) options ranging from an Orthodox minyan, to a traditional Young Judaea service, and even to a nature walk service. All minyanim come back together for the Torah reading, (a selection of three segments from that week’s parsha), followed by our world-famous Parsha Players (a riveting skit performed by our most theatrical staff connecting camp events to the Torah).

The rest of the day is full of relaxation and Shabbat-friendly activities, including swimming, resting, and games. Saturday evening, we gather for Havdallah, the service that marks the end of Shabbat but we’re not going to bed until after our Saturday Rikud (Israeli dancing) blow out.