Friday, / April 19, 2024
Home / news / Photos

More than 3,000 Jewish teenagers representing the largest network of Jewish teens met up in New York City at the annual CTeen International Shabbaton on February 22-25.

At a time when many Jewish teens are feeling targeted by hate, the immersive Shabbat experience at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, gave them a rare opportunity to connect with peers from around the country and abroad and a chance to assert their identity among fellow travelers. 

At the close of Shabbat, the teens—among them a delegation of 200 from Israel—rode the New York City subway to Manhattan for the annual “Times Square Takeover”—a  Havdalah ceremony and a celebration of Jewish life. They all joined in a prayer for the hostages and peace in the Holy Land.

Ethan, a senior who plays on his high school’s basketball team, came from El Paso, Texas. “My Jewish grandmother kept us involved in Jewish practices. She was the one who introduced me to camp Gan Israel and CTeen of El Paso,” he said. Five months ago, Ethan’s grandmother passed away, and the family stopped doing anything Jewish. 

“Then one Saturday morning I did something different. I decided to go to the synagogue. Standing there in a place she loved, I felt so connected to her and to my Jewish roots,” he said. “I started wearing my Judaism more openly. Now when I leave the house, I’m always wearing my kippah and tzitzit.”

Now Ethan plays every game with a very visible kippah outfitted with custom clips to keep it on his head. And when on the sixth night of Chanukah, his team was competing for the district title, Ethan stepped up to the free throw line with seven seconds left and the game on the line. He secured his kippah, and then made the winning free throw.

“I realized I’m not just showing up for my basketball team. I’m also on another team—together with all of you here,” Ethan said. 

Moshe Italy, 21, came from Maslul, Israel. Reflecting on the experience, he said, “The Times Square Takeover was incredibly impactful. The melodies, the collective prayers for the hostages—it felt as though the heavens themselves were moved by our actions.” he said.

The theme of the weekend focused on supporting each other. To Ethan, it means “boosting our connection with Torah and mitzvot. It means sharing our Jewish identities with the world without apologizing for being different.

“And when we feel like the world doesn’t hear us, let’s amplify our voices, using them to share the light through Torah and mitzvot.”


Be the first to write a comment.


More Galleries
At the Farmer’s Market
Been to the Farmer’s Market lately?   The freshly-baked hand-braided breads—courtesy of your local Chabad center—are selling out fast.  From Setauket, N.Y. to Petaluma, California, from…
Zambia’s Chabad Rabbi Meets Presidents of Zambia, Israel
Zambia’s brand-new Chabad rabbi Mendy Hertzel recently met with the president of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, at a dinner hosted in President Hichilema’s honor by Israel’s…
700th Chapter for Cteen in Estonia!
During the Havdalah Ceremony in Times Square, CTeen announced the launch of its 700th chapter, founded in Estonia under the directorship of Rabbi Michi and…
81st Annual Commemoration of Babi Yar Massacre in Kyiv
Today, on the 81st commemoration of the Babi Yar massacre, Chabad emissary and Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markowitz lit candles and led the annual memorial…
97-Year-Old World War II Vet Gets Surprise Medal Ceremony at Chabad of San Antonio
Ninety-seven-year-old Gerald Teldon was in Chabad of San Antonio for his great grandson’s bar mitzvah when Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Stein surprised the World War II…
Rabbi Shalom Stambler Awarded for Work With Warsaw’s Jewish Community
Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, awarded Chabad of Warsaw’s Rabbi Shalom Stambler an honorary badge, recognizing his 17 years of work advancing the…
Kosher Cuisine comes to Rwanda
Rabbi Chaim and Nechama Dina Bar Sela opened the first kosher restaurant in Kigali, Rwanda, bringing kosher Israeli cuisine to central African locals and travelers…
European Teens Explore Jewish Heritage In Budapest
Nearly two hundred teens from CTeen chapters across the European continent gathered in Budapest, Hungary for a memorable Shabbat full of song and friendship on…
Find Your Local Chabad Center