Six Weeks Later, Teens Still Feel Empowered

A Purim party is being arranged in Wilmette, IL by a surprising group.

Normally the result of many long hours and creative efforts put in by the Shliach and his wife, this year’s event is being produced by local teens who have recently returned from CTeen’s National Teen Shabbaton in New York. Inspired by the incredible unity and spirit of the Shabbaton, the teens decided to pool their energy together and put it to good use by helping to whip up the community event.

“That doesn’t even begin to demonstrate the powerful effect the Shabbaton has had on the teens,” says Rabbi Benzion Treitel, CTeens’s National Events Coordinator. “Every day seems to bring a new story of Jewish teens living their lives with renewed Jewish pride.”

There is the teen from Las Vegas, NV who wrote that “even though I’ll be looked at differently in public school, I decided I will wear a Kippah, and eventually work with my family to keep Kosher.” The Shliach who brought that teen and others to the Shabbaton, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Metal, tells of two other Vegas boys who committed to putting on Tefillin each morning, another who decided to learn the Parsha each week, and yet another who will only date Jewish girls.

CTeen’s Facebook page has a discussion started by a Chicago girl who so craves another CTeen Shabbaton, she is planning an Illinois meet up on her own. You might also meet Noah from Chomedy, QC, who said the Shabbaton taught him more than double what he had known about Judaism beforehand.

CTeen Director Rabbi Mendel Perlstein says the thank yous just keep pouring in to the office of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky and the CTeen Central office at Chabad House HQ in Merkos Suite 302. “I have felt things here I have never felt in any other Jewish setting. I feel at home,” reads a message from 18 year old Rebecca Zaslavsky.

Parents of the Shabbaton attendees are grateful, too. “Dinarose had an amazing time, met new friends, and we are lighting Shabbat candles again, so it was a gift that keeps on giving,” writes Beth Fraum.

While these offer a taste of the feedback received from last month’s Shabbaton, they don’t tell the full story. Who can quantify the effect of an event which touched the lives of the hundreds of attendees, their friends, families and communities? As Rabbi Shimon and Chaya Posner of Rancho Mirage, CA writes, “The Shabbaton has generated excitement within our whole community.”

That Shluchim are raving over the success of the program is  not surprising, considering that quite a few of them are receiving messages like the one Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum of the Montreal Torah Center found in his Facebook inbox:

“Yo Rabbi Dovid, I feel something is missing within me. I think it’s being away from all the new friends I made over the weekend. I have to tell you I am wearing my tzitzis today like I told the Rebbe I would. I feel a really strong sense of Jewish pride after this weekend.”

Now, with preparations underway for Purim and other community events, Shluchim are harnessing the teens’ enthusiasm to bring their programs to the next level and involve the teens in ways previously untapped. As many are finding out, there’s nothing like the power of youth.

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