By Merkos 302 news blog
How do you run a shabbaton for 200 teens from twelve cities without a common language?
“Shabbat across Europe”, CTeen’s second annual European shabbaton, proved that geon Yaakov and friendship run much deeper than language and mentality barriers.
Traveling in from cities as far as sixteen hours away, teens from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, England and France flocked to London for an uplifting weekend of Jewish pride and friendship, organized by Chanky Friedman.
“We’ve clearly seen that there is great demand for CTeen in Europe, thank G-d,” concluded Rabbi Mendel Perlstein, of CTeen. In addition to doubling the number of male participants since its inception last year, the shabbaton debuted with a simultaneous, separate track for girls.
On Friday and Sunday, London’s landmark attractions such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussaud’s, and Hamleys were streamed with energetic t-shirt cladded teens singing songs of Jewish pride and unity.
On shabbos, Alex Clare, the guest speaker and singer who starred at the shabbaton in NY, shared his story at both the boys and girl programs.
“The highlight of the spirited Shabbos was the learning and Farbrengening with Rabbi Gordon in the Yeshiva Zal,” raves Rabbi Chmouel Lubecki.
The Motzoei Shabbos programs opened with public havdalah ceremonies at the Trafalgar’s square overlooking the London Bridge and under Big Ben.
During the closing ceremony, each teen accepted a Mitzvah upon themselves. On Sunday morning, CTeen’s Facebook page received a picture of a Mezuzah hanging on the door of Ben Bursk’s room in Manchester. “Thanks to the CTeen auction my mezzuza is now up. Thanks so much CTeen!”
CTeen is grateful to the families of Golders Green and Hendon for hosting the teens. The unconditional Hachnosas Orchim displayed by the Weinbaum family, who hosted the boys at the Jewish Family Center, and Rabbis Overlander and Plotke from Chabad of Hendon, the central location for the girls program, made a great impact on the teens.
“As the teens return home, the momentum from the shabbaton is spreading across Europe,” says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and chairman of CTeen. “European Shluchim now want more shabbatons and are signing up for regular CTeen programming.”
As for the teens, the only disagreement during the achdus-rich weekend was who would host the third annual shabbaton next year.
Refuting all their suggestions, Amie, who kept Shabbos for the first time, burst out in song, “Leshanah Habah BiYerushalayim.”