Chanukah, the festival of lights, was made a bit brighter…
Over 200 shluchim, shluchos, and teen leaders from around the world participated in the 4th Annual CTeen Leadership Retreat and Kinus, to connect with one another and to gain and share insight for the year ahead. The conference was held on 28 Sivan-1 Tammuz, June 22-25, at the scenic Bushkill Inn and Conference Center, in Pennsylvania. The scholars-in-residence were Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, lecturer and dean of yeshiva.net, and Simcha Chaya Azulay renowned speaker and Shlucha to S. Paulo, Brazil.
CTeen shluchim and shluchos facilitated workshops on a range of topics, including team building strategies, mental health awareness, how to delegate effectively, and real-life training scenarios. Additionally, teen leaders from different chapters brainstormed together and with their CTeen rabbis and rebbetzins to plan events for the upcoming year.
The Kinus also offered workshops tailored specifically for the new CTeen shluchim who have gone out in the past year or will soon be heading out on shlichus, including shluchim from Bangkok, Munich, Buenos Aires, Rio, and Leeds, among other places.
There were lively farbrengens on Shabbos, which was also Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, focusing on preparing for Gimmel Tammuz. Scholar-in-residence Rabbi Yossi Jacobson farbrenged with shluchim well into the early hours of Shabbos morning.
The Retreat also marked a special occasion for two teen leaders, Olivia Rubinsky from Palm Springs, California, and Hannah Kaplun from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, who chose Hebrew names. Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, chairman of CTeen, conducted the naming ceremony at the Torah reading on Shabbat, which was followed by spirited dancing and celebration. “Watching the next generation of shluchim and teen leaders prepare for their roles was very inspiring and uplifting,” he shared.
I was excited about attending the retreat, but what I hadn’t anticipated was the inspiration I would feel from within,” shared Hank Loeb from Cincinnati, Ohio. “I plan on making changes to the way I live my life, starting with wearing a yarmulke daily, following more of the kosher laws, and remembering to wrap tefillin every morning are my commitments to myself at this point…Thanks to the Leadership program and retreat, I see possibilities I hadn’t considered in the past.”
“Last year, right off of the inspiration of the Retreat, I attended CTeen’s Heritage Quest,” shared Zack Horowitz, former leader at the Wilmington, Delaware chapter shared at the program’s opening ceremony. “It was because of these two events that I decided to take the next step in my Jewish journey, and attend Yeshiva for a year after high school. I am very happy to say that I will be attending Mayanot next year. The Leadership Retreat gave me the tools to take charge of my life and make decisions in ways I never did before.”
The Kinus offered shluchim the chance to rejuvenate and prepare for the year ahead. From senior shluchim who have been out in the field for over five years, to those just starting out, the weekend provided a chance to reconnect to their mission.
As Esther Greenspan from Northbrook, Illinois, shared: “Now that the Kinus is over, I plan to get going and get my chapter up and running. I feel very empowered to start reaching out to the few teens we know, start a High School club, and develop real relationships with the youth in our community. As I learned this weekend, that’s what CTeen is really about.”
CTeen 5777 Recap Song: