On the heels of last year’s resounding success for its inaugural fundraising event, Chabad Youth Network of Ontario has raised the bar at its 2nd Annual Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction, surpassing the expectations of both participants and behind-the-scenes planners alike.
The combination of an elegant wine-tasting featuring rich and unique special-reserve wines, a wide array of high-quality auction items including exquisite jewellery, sports memorabilia, and original artwork, a lavish meal, and heart-warming stories, set against mellow dinner music enthralled everyone in attendance.
As prominent dignitaries, supporters and friends converged together at the Terrace Banquet Centre in Vaughan, spirits were high and the energy was positive. But of course, the major draw for the crowd was to demonstrate support for the vital work of CYN and to pay tribute to the evenings’ three Young Leadership Honourees—Josh Freedman, Melissa Perez and Mitch DeBora, and to Rabbi Shmuli and Chani Nachlas, co-directors of the organization.
Chabad Youth Network masterfully combines two approaches in the ultimate goal of imbuing Jewish teenagers with a strong sense of identity and connection to their heritage, while at the same time empowering then with a greater sense of benevolence and responsibility to their communities. This is accomplished by offering a highly developed, educational courses through the Torah 4 Teens program, intertwined with hands-on community service and outreach provided by TFC-Teens for The Community.
For the nearly 400 Youth who come through the doors of CYN’s Drop-in Centres, whether for classes, social activities, or just to hang out in a trendy and inviting atmosphere and engage the Rabbi in lively discussion on critical teen issues, CYN strives to provide these teens with the necessary tools, both emotionally and intellectually, to navigate their way through our often murky social landscape and emerge to become the strong and confident leaders of tomorrow.
As the ballroom doors to the Gala event opened for dinner at 7:00p.m., guests were captivated by the striking decor, and were greeted with complimentary gift bags and Celebration Journals stacked neatly on each individual chair. Included in the Journal were greetings and best wishes greetings from the Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, a message from the Consul General of Israel, in addition to testimonials from students, ads and greetings from supporters, well-wishers and families of the honourees.
The evening was highlighted by a moving video presentation depicting a segment of TFC in action. Thereafter, the three Young Leadership Honourees proceeded to the podium for the awards ceremony, to be recognized for their exemplary activism in the Jewish community. Each honouree spoke passionately about their involvement with CYN, their affection for Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas and his wife Chani, and how they hope to take their positive experiences and education from CYN with them as they ponder a vision for their future.
In her personal observations of CYN, honouree Melissa Perez, a 4th year psychology and law student at York University stated:”Chabad Youth Network extends beyond the walls of the classrooms and events, to our everyday lives, and extends to the future of tomorrow.”
As dessert was served, the crowd took the opportunity to mingle with friends, or place a final bid on their item of choice at the silent auction.
Remarked one guest: “I have been to many dinners, but the positive energy felt in the room tonight was so palpable…everyone was just so upbeat and excited to be part of this amazing organization and show their support. And everyone really had a fun time.”
Finally, while gratefully acknowledging the evening’s success, Rabbi Shmuli emphasized that the greatest satisfaction, by far, will be experienced by the teens who stand to benefit from the classes and programs that Chabad Youth Network provides.