Last Friday, over 2,000 teens from around the world united in Crown Heights for a weekend of inspiration at the largest and most impressive CTeen International Shabbaton to date.
CTeen’s annual International Shabbaton—which is world famous for events such as the Times Square Takeover and CTeen Choice Awards—far exceeded its past years both in size and in grandeur. CTeen attributes a large part of the overall success to the over 200 families who graciously hosted CTeen chapters in their homes.
A week before the Shabbaton was set to begin, many CTeen chapters were without places to sleep or eat over Shabbos. The families of Crown Heights stepped up to the task, many of them hosting more than one chapter in their homes. By the time the teens and chaperones began to arrive on Thursday afternoon, every single group had been set up by a host family.
“We cannot begin to thank the families of Crown Heights enough for their effort and participation in this Shabbaton,” shared Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky. “Many of the teens shared that the highlight of their weekend was spending time with the host families. You left a lasting and memorable impression on all of them, and for that we thank you.”
“Our teens returned home with such a different perspective about Judaism and Torah,” shared Chana Avtzon from Hong Kong.
This year’s theme was Unite with Light—it was a grand celebration both of the Hakel year as well as a gateway to inspire teens to add more light into the world through acts of goodness and kindness; and add they did. The families of Crown Heights brought the messages of CTeen—and of Hakel—directly to the teens themselves.
“Besides for lining their floors with mattresses and giving up their beds to hosts teens (for the 5th year!), The Weingarten’s hosted over 60 teens from Great Neck, West Suffolk, Grand Rapids, Alabama, Essex England, and Hawaii,” shared Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, shliach to West Suffolk County, New York. “What an unreal atmosphere! The teens were amazed at their open house and hospitality, truly teaching what a Shabbos meal is all about!”
“All of the Texas chapters were graciously hosted by the Cohen family. It was an incredible atmosphere—a real chance for the Texas chapters to get to know one another. It was an opportunity we may have otherwise not had,” shared Rabbi Yudi Horowitz, shliach to Plano, Texas.
The concept of hachnasas orchim came to life for them as they witnessed families opening up their homes to strangers, treating them like family,” shared Rochel Sugerman, shlucha to Wilmington, Delaware, The hostess for the girls, Mrs. Brunya Schaffer, gave them bracelets to wear for Shabbos and a heart candle to bring home as a gift at the end! The girls were so moved from her kindness.”
“Leah and Baruch Jacobson stepped in at the last minute to host us, giving us their kid’s beds, preparing beautiful meals for us, and making us feel so welcome in their home,” shared Bayla Blumstein, shlucha to West Bloomfield, MI.
While teens and participants alike were sad to depart and return home, they each left with a spark, prepared to ignite the light everywhere they go.
Crown heights was a really lovely place, everyone are Jewish and all of the stores and restaurants were Kosher which I loved!” shared Esther Blum, a teen from Geneva, Switzerland. “On Saturday, after we went to synagogue, we went to eat with our hosts, Mussi and Nachman Rivkin. I had so much fun! They were both so nice and Mussi’s food was delicious. I loved the fact that no one was on their phones thanks to Shabbat, so we all talked and laughed a lot.”
Residents of Crown Heights had plenty to share about their experience hosting CTeeners as well. As Hindy Goldstein, whose family hosted one group of girls, put it: I would like to thank the CTeen girls for coming to our home and adding such a beautiful touch to our shabbos! It was incredible to see the chayus and energy that these girls have for Judaism and for life!”
The Deitsch family, which hosted four groups of teens from around the world, added a special taste to their shabbos meal by inviting speakers to farbrengen with the teens during lunch. “Dr. Rosen came to speak to them, as well as Chaplain Yankel Goldstein, in full army uniform, no less!” Tzirl Deitsch shared about the experience.
CTeen of Boulogne, France had a special message to share with their Shabbos hosts, the Rubashkins: “The girls really enjoyed themselves and said it was the best shabbos meal they’ve ever been to!”
CTeen would like to thank the families and residents of Crown Heights for once again going above and beyond. Your level of hachnosas orchim made a world of a difference and has left a lasting impression on the thousands of teens you welcomed into your homes.