Imagine the sun beginning to set onto dark clouds, as a bright October day ends, a chilly evening begins. The sabbath day comes to a close, and the candles will be lit, spices smelled, wine (or in this case, grape juice) drank—Havdallah traditions begin. Now you have this chilly image in your mind, what do the people look like? Are they dressed in their best clothes, or wearing thick coats to keep out the wind?… Neither. A snowflake stands arm in arm with a pirate and a 1920s flapper. In costume, the members of Masada BBG and New Frontier AZA gather to celebrate the end of Shabbat and experience some fun Halloween-themed activities: Havdallahween.
Havdallahween has been one of the largest events of the year for these chapters for as long as I (a senior who has been in BBYO since 8th grade) can remember. It is a wonderful chance for members to get to know other Jewish teens in BBYO and to become closer with others from their own school or Jewish community. Every year, especially last year with virtual events, our S’ganim and Sh’lichim work hard to make a classic event unique. Different themes for the Havdallah service to different activities make Havallahween a surefire success.
This year was like all others in that respect, but was special on its own. My last havdallahween and the first in-person Havdallahween in two years. The program started with the Sh’lichim sharing the prayers and connecting these prayers to the costumes that Masada’s and New Frontier’s board chose to wear. It may seem out of the ordinary to compare rappers and different decades to Havdallah, but the service flowered fantastically.
Following the Havdallah service, the S’gan ran a fun question icebreaker. With rotating inner and outer circles, everyone from each chapter got to meet new people and discuss new questions with each other. One of the most interesting questions was “What element would you use to take over the world?” After icebreakers, we went into our biggest program of the night, pumpkin carving, carefully set up to make sure the group was spread out and each had a special book with carving ideas.
It was a funny and inspirational sight to see teens work with people across different towns and grades to make beautiful and spooky creations. There was endless laughter and shouts as each group tried to carve faces onto their pumpkins. And just as the groups were finishing up their works of art—tragedy strikes. What was previously barely even a drizzle turned to a downpour! Everyone had to abandon their pumpkins and run inside.
Our entire night shifted with the rain. We were unable to finish pumpkin carvings, the COVID-safe apple bobbing we prepared was unable to be done inside the house, and our paper scripts were soaking wet! What did we do? We did what BBYO leaders do best: IMPROVISE! The S’gan skipped to Halloween/Judiac trivia, and the large crowd regrouped into small teams to answer the questions. It was an unexpected change in the evening, but everyone enjoyed answering random trivia together. Afterward, we went straight into our “outbreaker.” Everyone said one word to describe the night. Most said “wet,” “rain,” or “water,” but those who said “fun,” “entertaining,” or“exciting” showed that even when the best-laid plans go awry, we can still enjoy being together and making the most of any moments in BBYO.
Sarah Eisenberg is a BBG from Masada BBG #1519 in New York, and she is a big Disney fan and loves to write and take photos.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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