Why Diller is Amazing! The Diller Leadership Shabbaton

By Naomi Derfel

The Diller Leadership Shabbaton took place Feb 1 - 3 at Mansfield Outdoor Centre. The Leadership Shabbaton is a unique opportunity for teens to hone their leadership skills by working with a budget to plan a schedule and activities for the group of 24 Diller teens and staff in the spirit of a pluralistic Shabbat. It is an opportunity for them to work on key skills and evaluate themselves and their peers.

What’s so special about our Diller group is how we embrace challenge and welcome it with open arms. We have tackled intellectually probing discussions about Tikkun Olam and pluralism, and organized an entire Shabbaton, with none of us having an inkling of experience doing so. When we were presented with the challenge of planning the Leadership Shabbaton, we all automatically jumped at the opportunity. We were told the entire weekend would be run solely by ourselves, from activities to prayer services to meals. Our staff gave us a list of potential committees and sent us on our way.

After being given minimal instructions and left with only each other to work with, I expected to be faced with chaos. But rather than disagreements and talking over one another, I was pleasantly surprised to see the cohort utilize my favourite Diller motto of “Step Up, Step Down.” Each fellow took initiative when needed in terms of taking a leadership role, and even more importantly, listened respectfully to the others and encouraged different ideas.

The logistics team worked incredibly hard budgeting, shopping for meals, and buying supplies. The Shabbat ceremonies team planned the most meaningful, enlightening prayer services, and the Ruach team did an amazing job of creating fun games and activities.

February 1 finally rolled around and it was time to put our plan into action. I was very nervous, yet I knew that because of how well we work together we would be able to overcome any challenge just as readily as we embrace one.

And I was right. The Shabbaton flew by and it was unbelievable to see how our hard work paid off. Each and every one of us put in our all to make it an unforgettable weekend, and that it definitely was. It was an opportunity for every person to get involved and truly shine.

Diller captures the unique abilities, personalities, and skills of each fellow. I walk into our workshops never feeling scared to speak up and share my opinion, because that is exactly what we are encouraged to do. I am extremely lucky to be part of this amazing program, and cannot wait to continue to grow as a Jew and as a leader with this even more amazing group of people.


To learn more about Diller Teen Fellows, or to apply, click here.