By Sara Trappler Spielman, Chabad.org
Photos by Bentzi Sasson
Teenagers from the United States, Canada and Europe are in New York City for a weekend of inspiration, education and entertainment as part of the CTeen (Chabad Teen Network) International Teen Shabbaton, Feb. 28 to March 2.
Many coming in with their local Chabad rabbis will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Shabbat for the first time, as well as get a dose of the city that never sleeps.
The weekend is centered at Lubavitch World Headquarters in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., and participants stay with host families in Crown Heights.
The 3 days are jam-packed with activities and programs, beginning with a sightseeing trip to Manhattan on Friday and a visit to the Jewish Children’s Museum once back in Brooklyn.
Later in the day, women will participate in a candle-lighting ceremony to usher in Shabbat, while men will be afforded a yeshivah experience at Oholei Torah boys’ school, learning from Jewish texts with students there. Shabbat services follow, as do a unity Shabbat dinner, and roundtable discussions with rabbis and Jewish celebrities, including British hit singer and songwriter Alex Clare.
The Shabbat schedule includes classes, meals at the homes of host families, “Hot Topic” workshops and interactive games.
On Saturday night, the group heads off to none other than Times Square for a Havdalah ceremony—to be led by Clare—heralding in a new week, followed by shopping, bowling, arcades, food and live DJ music.
“CTeen has been one of the most amazing experiences for me,” says Atlanta resident Talya Gordon, who attended last year. “I got to take a look at the lives of other Jewish teenagers like myself. I created many lasting friendships and felt a strong connection to Judaism. CTeen brings together Jewish teenagers who lead different lifestyles, but all share their love for Judaism. The experience enabled me to view Judaism as not only my religion, but as a way of life.”
The teens will take a Sunday-morning trip to the Ohel in Queens, N.Y.—the resting place of the Rebbe and his father-in-law, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchok Yosef Schneersohn, of righteous memory. The group will then return to Crown Heights to tour the main mikvah there, followed by a farewell banquet in the ballroom of Oholei Torah, complete with a buffet lunch, comedy show, CTeen “Choice Awards” program and closing ceremony.
The Shabbaton was launched six years ago with 60 people at its initial gathering in New York. It has grown exponentially ever since, with this year’s attendance reaching 1,000 for the annual weekend program.