We had the privilege of speaking with Zachary Shabman, recent Mayanot Men's Program alumni, and discussing how his Mayanot experience impacted him and what he will take a way with him. We were very inspired by what he said, and hope you will see why!
Zachary, please describe your Mayanot experience:
I really enjoyed my experience at Mayanot. I think the students and the Shluchim played a major role in making my experience what it was. The students are very welcoming and supportive.
I came to Mayanot because I wanted to grow in my yiddishkeit (Judaism). The students created an encouraging environment that, in as little as one month, I was able to grow tremendously. Additionally, I thought the Shluchim were also integral parts of my Mayanot experience. Getting to learn with them and hang out with them was always a highlight and a great opportunity for growth.
Please share one experience that most impacted you at Mayanot:
There wasn't one experience that touched me the most. For the most part, the heart to hearts that I had with students, shluchim and Rabbis, were most impactful for me. The learning, outside of the classroom, i.e. walking through different neighborhoods in Jerusalem, going to the mikveh for the first time, experiencing different parts of Israel on trips and for Shabbat, going to Hebron, praying three times a day, learning in the Beit Midrash at Mayanot, Shabbat, and so much more. I was able to understand a different side of Israel, which I have never experienced before and was immersed in Jewish life in such a beautiful way. As well, my experience at Mayanot helped me strengthened my commitment to prayer and allowed me to think deeply and question my relationship with G-d and the role G-d plays in my life.
What practical steps do you think you will take to further your Jewish learning?
I hope to move to a Jewish community close to where I work and intend to find a chevruta (learning partner) and continue praying three times a day. I hope to return to yeshiva one day to learn even more, but in the mean time, continue to do some learning on my own.
Please describe where you are now, as it relates to your Jewish life in comparison with when you arrived?
When I arrived at Mayanot It was difficult for me to pray traditionally. I was also afraid of praying at orthodox shuls. I have been home for two days, and I no longer feel afraid to walk into an orthodox shul. I feel much more confident in what I am doing, what is going on around me, and also being able to just connect to the people.
After Mayanot, how have you been empowered to move forward with your Judaism?
I am empowered to take Judaism with me where ever I go and not be afraid to be Jewish!
Are there any resolutions you have and are willing to share:
I plan on getting a pair of tefillin and am proud to wear a kippah now.
Zachary, thank you for sharing your testimonial and aspirations with us,
we cherish your Jewish journey, where ever it takes you!