Why is 16-year-old Rachel Wilkes on a quest? Or is the answer…
As the school year comes to a close, people the world over celebrate accomplishments. CTeen is no exception. Dozens of chapters across the globe marked their graduating leaders this June with award ceremonies. From France to California, over elegant luncheons and sit-down dinners, the hard work of the CTeen leaders and volunteers were acknowledged and applauded.
Each chapter recognized the involvement of their teens in a different way, but at all, parents and friends attended, excitedly sharing their personal experiences with CTeen. Many related the impact CTeen had on their families, but most spoke about their increasing Yiddishkeit.
At CTeen of the Rivertowns’ breakfast reception, Rabbi Levi Levitin shared a story from his chapter. The teens in that area of the lower Hudson Valley regularly visit a children’s hospital. Over the course of many visits, the group met and connected with another Jewish teenager who had been in and out of hospitals all his life. Right there in the hospital, the CTeeners arranged an elaborate Bar Mitzva party, and the young boy put on tefilin for the first time in his life. So inspired was he, that the teen promised to put on tefilin every single day.
The incredible impact CTeen is making has also been felt by government officials and local community leaders. New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins attended the event in the Rivertowns, acknowledging the service of the CTeen volunteers to her community. In particular, she thanked the leaders of the chapter for their responsibilities, which include arranging programs, volunteering at local charities and encouraging its group members.
In the past few years, the Meromim Foundation has initiated the founding of fifty CTeen shluchim. Thanks to Rabbi Bentzi Lipskier, these chapters are provided continuous support and encouragement. The support of the Meromim Foundation enables CTeen shluchim to maximize their potentials in each individual community.
The CTeen year includes an array of exciting trips, regional Shabbatons, High School Clubs, Torah classes, Campus-Connect trips and Jewish Heritage Nights. But perhaps most important of all is its international network, based out of Merkos 302, and the incredible resources it provides. Executive director Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky is proud of its global accomplishments, “It’s absolutely amazing and inspiring to see what CTeen shluchim around the world have accomplished with their teens and communities this year, as their work and dedication continues to expand the CTeen network exponentially.”
As they graduate, the teens are sad to leave. “I know I’ll always be connected to CTeen,” says Robin Weiss, one of the six leaders honored this month at CTeen of the Rivertowns. “I loved being part of our group. I learned so much and gained a strong Jewish identity, all while having fun.” But while Robin is feeling bittersweet, she looks forward to connecting with Chabad at every stage of her life and adds, “One day in the future, I plan to be involved in CTeen again.”
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