Issue 6 / Shabbaton 5779/2019
Could You Save a Life?
Silence in Public Schools... Will It Work?
My Friends Told Me to Hide My Jewish Identity...
Finding Life in a Death Camp
In the Rebbe’s Words
From the Desk of Rabbi Kotlarsky
United in Light
(Don’t) Be Afraid
Prom Vs. Shabbat
What Teens Need From Their Role Models
Is Bigger Always Better?
Custom Made You
Could You Save a Life?
Teens Join CTeen...You Won't Believe What Happens Next
Silence in Public Schools... Will It Work?
I Tried It!
Losing Finding My Religion
Do You Know What The “C” in CTeen Stands For?
Keeping It Lit
My Friends Told Me to Hide My Jewish Identity... I Turned it into Art
I Kept Shabbat... on a Mission to Mars!
Social Media...It’s A Trap!
Finding Life in a Death Camp
There’s a CTeen Where?!
10 Reasons Why CTeen’s Rabbis and Rebbetzins Are The Best
What’s Your CTeen Flavor?
In The Rebbe's Words The Power of Youth By the Grace of G-d 20 Iyar, 5720 [May, 17, 1960] Brooklyn, NY Greetings and Blessings: Youth has special qualities of untapped reserves of energy and enthusiasm. In addition, being still on the threshold of life, youth has a greater measure of goodness and purity, not having had too much contact with the negative aspects of life. All these qualities of youth extremely important in all youth activities, especially with regard to education of growing children. Youth responds more readily to youth, as it more readily influenced intuitively than through the medium of reason. Consequently, the character, the feeling and idealistic approach of the instructors and teachers is a decisive factor in the childrenâ€™s education. I wish you to use all your youthful energies in this most important cause in human lifeâ€”the upbringing of a new generation on firm and proper foundations. I send you my prayerful wishes and blessing that you enthusiasm and efforts be crowned with unqualified success.
In 1984, I received an urgent call from the Rebbe’s office asking me to travel to Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean, as soon as possible. I was to gather the Jewish community there and speak to them about Judaism. Upon my arrival to Curaçao, I met with the director of the local Jewish community. As I left the meeting, a man approached me, introducing himself as Chaim Yosef Groisman. He said it was a miracle that I had come to Curaçao and that he had to speak to me urgently. Curaçao, Groisman shared, was a predominantly Catholic country with a Catholic school system. Throughout the years, whenever the Catholic students had attended prayer services, the Jewish students had played football. Recently, however, the new archbishop had decreed that the Jewish students were required to attend the prayer services. Groisman’s thirteen-year-old son had refused to cooperate, infuriating the administration and leading to his recent expulsion from school.
From the Desk of Rabbi Kotlarsky
This issue of CTeen Connection features articles and discussions that underscore the priceless gift of valuing and appreciating every Jew, wherever and in whichever state he or she may be.
Mr. Groisman related to me that in the thick of the uproar his son had caused at school, his late grandmother had appeared to him in a dream. She had reminded him that prior to his move to Curaçao she had advised him that if he ever experienced a problem, he should turn to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for guidance. “And suddenly, here you are, an emissary of the Rebbe!” Mr. Groisman exclaimed to me. I suggested that Mr. Groisman send his son to a Jewish boarding school in New York, which he did. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Venezuela, where it was much easier to practice Judaism. Two years later, I received a letter from Groisman, in which he expressed his desire to thank the Rebbe for all the Rebbe had done for his family. “Yet, how can I, a small Jew from Curaçao, ever thank a person as great as the Rebbe?” he had written. The Rebbe responded as such: “I must take exception to your referring to yourself as a ‘small Jew from Curaçao’.... [E]very Jew, man or woman, has a [G-dly soul] which is a ‘part of G‑dliness above’.... Thus there is no such thing as a ‘small Jew,’ and a Jew must never underestimate his or her tremendous potential.” The Torah’s perspective shapes our minds with the ability to see the unblemished spark of G-d within every Jew; there is no such thing as a small Jew. May we merit to see beyond externalities and celebrate the potential of each soul. I wish you an uplifting Shabbaton! Warmly,
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky 5
meet the team Leigh HershkovichIoffe Editor-in-Chief
Risa Mond: Contributing Editor
Claire Segal Content Editor
Hannah Kaplun Content Editor
Shayna Solkowitz Woodcliff Lake, NJ
Jessica Kiroff Jamaica Estates, NY
Carly Tamer W. Suffolk County, NY
Sarah Strent W. Suffolk County, NY
Gabrielle Schneiret Hollywood, FL
Orli Richman Basking Ridge, NJ
Danielle York S. Monica, CA
Lynette Martin Miami, FL
Alisa Schwartz S. Antonio, TX
Elie Glaser Leeds, UK
Hannah Butcher Fort Worth, FL
Julia Rozenfeld Bucks County, PA
Panama City, Panama
Nina Pfrenger Houston, TX
Samara Smukler Boca Raton, FL
Julia Landes Manalapan, NJ
Sara Weiss Skokie, IL
Rebecca Myers Manchester, UK
Rebeka Price Skokie, IL
Emilio Chayo Cancun, MX
Zach Marcus Basking Ridge, NJ
Andrew Stein Gaithersburg, MD
Quincy Barrett Manchester, UK
Noah Roffe Skokie, IL
Staff Speaks Hey CTeeners! Welcome to the 11th Annual CTeen International Shabbaton!! We are all different and unique. From the way we look, act, and even our personalities—no two people are identical. “The day you were born, Hashem decided that the world couldn’t exist without you.” This quote sums up what CTeen is about. Leigh Hershkovich-Ioffe: Editor-in-Chief Hashem created each of us for a reason. Risa Mond: Contributing Editor We all have a unique purpose in life. Each Segal andto Hannah Kaplun: Contributing Editors and every one of us isClaire custom-made help carry out a mission. We’re here to celebrate our unique Shayna sparks. Solkowitz, Woodcliff Lake, NJ
Jessica Kiroff, Jamaica Estates, NY
CTeen is a team, and everyone has Carly Tamer, West Suffolk County, NY their part. From CTeen HQ, to all of our Sarah Strent, West Suffolk County, NY awesome chapter Rabbis, to the ICLB Gabrielle Schneiret, Hollywood, FL leaders rockin’ their roles, to the teen Orli Richman, Basking Ridge, NJ writers here at CTeen Connection. Our Danielle York, S. Monica, CA lights shine brighter when we work Lynette Martin, Miami, FL together.
Alisa Schwartz, S. Antonio, TX
If any part of you wasElie different, Glaser,you Leeds, UK wouldn’t be you! We are all here to do Fort Worth, FL Hannah Butcher, our part. From our silly, funRozenfeld, sides, to Bucks County, PA Julia our serious, thoughtful sides, each of Sarah Hinkediker, Panama City, Panama us brings something different to the Nina Pfrenger, Houston, TX table. That’s what makes CTeen and Samara Smukler, Boca Raton, FL the Shabbaton such an awesome Julia Landes, Manalapan, NJ experience. Each of us has a Sara Weiss, Skokie, IL mission on this world, and together, Rebecca Myers, Manchester, UK we can change the world for the Rebeka Price, Skokie, IL better. This magazine is a collection of Emilio Chayo, Cancun, MX stories, ideals, and thoughts, Zach Marcus, Basking Ridge, NJ produced by over twenty-five Andrew Stein, Gaithersburg, MD teens from different backgrounds Quincy Barrett, Manchester, UK and lifestyles. We hope you enjoy Noah Roffe, Skokie, IL reading it. And, don’t forget to let your own unique spark too! The CTeen Connection Team 7
We love CTeen events! Check out CTeen’s BIGGEST events of the year!
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amazing Check out our year’s leaders at this eat! Leadership Retr
CTeen gives back with cookies for Firefighters
CTeen reppin’ at the March of the Living
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id you know that CTeen has over 100 chapters in France alone?! Not bad for a small country! Ever wonder what it’s like to live in Paris? You don’t have to wonder anymore! CTeen Connection sat down for an exclusive interview with fellow CTeeners from Paris, Strasbourg, Boulogne, and Tours!
CTeen France By the Numbers 106 2 75 126 916
CTeen events across France in 5778 10
National Shabbatons per year
events hosted around France weekly!
teens attended CTeen’s Chanukah Party in 5779
humanitarian events in 5778
teens attended the CTeen International Shabbaton in New York
teens at yearly regional
CTeeners across France
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outs d, bu mplicate From the o c e r a rance . I think lives in F one else y r e v e e to be t lik we want , we’re jus le p o e oung p s taken like all y r opinion u o e v a d me dh as helpe h heard an n e e T I ount. C feel like into acc ade me m d n a rd bigger. feel hea mething o s f o t r ourg am a pa n Strasb e e T C j, Adjed -Joshua
What do you think CTeen has brought to your community? CTeen has helped me reconnect to Judaism. I didn’t really feel like part of the community before CTeen came to Tours. I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of people my age, and become part of an amazing family!
-Esther Levy, CTeen Tours
In two words, how do you describe Cteefamnily? .
How do you see the Fr en Je wish community in th ch e next 30 years? Wh
en you listen to the daily n ews and negative repo rts, it makes yo u more aware of how important Jew is h unity is. Our future will continue to b e bright as long as we help each oth er. -Aaron Bense mhoun, CTeen Boulogne
een T C d i How d then you in str eng udaism? d me yourlikJe CTeenfhoerltphee first
l I fee who I am the time g n s lear akin uestion By t q . e nd y tim er m ndersta I’ve w s n u , to a me urce e p o l s e h t the ch mor and ma u e s i a elf m heritag Jud s y dm my foun cted to e . j, djed conn e Torah A a th hu g and -Jos rasbour t S en CTe
word: I’ll give you one Teen Paris -Eden Revah, C
I was allowed to learn who I really was, why I am who I am! CTeen answered many of my questions as the reason for our unity with another Jew and Israel which allowed me to move forward in Judaism -Eden Revah, CTeen Paris 11
Sarah Strent West Suffolk County, NY
n Saturday, October 27th, the Jewish community lost eleven souls at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The act was committed by a hateful anti-Semitic man who ran into the synagogue, screaming, “All Jews must die.” This was an extremely tragic event for the Jewish people and stands as the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. If you’re like me, you’re probably at a loss, wondering why and how this could happen. Why would something so horrible happen to such innocent people? The answer will forever remain unknown. The only One who knows the true answer is Hashem. When I found out about what happened, I began to cry. I was horrified by the number of innocent civilians who were shot and killed. I couldn’t begin to imagine how heartbroken their loved ones must have felt. I was also furious. Furious at the disgusting man who killed eleven innocent people. In the Torah, it states that every Jew is an entire world. The shooter not only killed eleven people, but he ended eleven worlds. I knew something had to be done. I knew as Jews, it was our responsibility to put an end to discrimination once and for all. I knew that although such a terrible event had occurred, we, the Jewish people, can turn darkness into light.
“A little light dispels a lot of darkness.” —Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi 12
How can we, with the “power of youth,” inspire our peers and fellow CTeeners to take on a new mitzvah and change the world? Start with something simple. Check out the infographic for some inspiration! I challenge all of you to take on a mitzvah. No matter how simple you think it is, I guarantee that you will find satisfaction in doing so. By doing so, you’re showing the world that we
will never be stopped! Jews have been targeted for thousands of years, yet we always persist. Together we can change the world. We will continue teaching Jewish beliefs, doing mitzvahs, and practicing Jewish traditions We will continue to spread light: we will give tzedakah, we will give time, we will give love. We will find the light in the darkness. Light will prevail. Darkness will be inferior. Light will always win.
Danielle York S. Monica, CA
n October 27, 2018, I was in shul, celebrating my cousin’s bar mitzvah; it was a joyous and really happy occasion. I felt a burst of Jewish pride as I watched my young cousin read from the Torah. And then, the news began to spread. A gunman had opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing eleven people and injuring seven. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. The horrific news threw an ugly shadow onto the special day we had been celebrating. The recent spike of antisemitism in the US and around the world has shaken us up. What was once benign—or even ignorable— is now a serious threat. Everyone feels it. After the attack, I was heartbroken, but I didn’t think it would have any practical effect on my day-to-day life. I was almost in denial that antisemitism was something I had to worry about, here in Los Angeles. My mom, however, felt differently. She asked me not to wear, post, or even say, anything that would identify me as Jewish. That hit me hard. I was shocked. My parents came to America so that our family could openly practice Judaism without fear. I think back on the stories they tell me of the persecution in Iran, and I shudder. They raised me not only to love being Jewish, but to be proud of it. Was this the same mom who sent me to Camp Gan Izzy so I could learn to sing “I’m a Jew and I’m Proud!” over and over until I lost my voice? How did we come to the point that our sense of fear has manifested into hiding who we are?
Of course, I realize that my mom, like many other people, is concerned for my safety. Here’s the thing: Our nation makes up less than 1% of the global population. Staying silent now will make us weaker. In fact, hiding who we are—proud Jews—only sets us back. Who are we as a people if we give into our fear? Who are we if we stop celebrating Shabbat, stop attending services in shul, stop expressing and being proud of our religion? Is being openly Jewish putting us in danger? I have never felt uncomfortable expressing my Jewish pride in public. We’re stronger together, and we’re stronger when we stand up for what we believe in. Even in the story of Chanukah, where the Maccabees had a lot at stake, they stood for their beliefs in spite of the Greeks, and even displayed their faith in Hashem with pride across their shields and armor. We were given our voices to express who we are. If we stop using our voices, who will use them for us? Sharing Jewish pride means celebrating the sacrifices of our ancestors, and the opportunities that will be provided to future generations. We have the power in our hands to change the course of history. If we stay silent, what will history look like? So, how do we show the world who we are in this time? It’s not a coincidence that the first line of the CTeen anthem is: “Yes, I’m a Jew, a proud one too.” Guys, it’s in our DNA! It’s up to us to shout it out loud, and feel really proud to be who we are—no holding back. It’s up to us to show the world who we are: Proud Jews!
Who are we as a people if we give into our fear? Who are we if we stop celebrating Shabbat, stop attending services in shul, stop expressing and being proud of our religion?
FOR TEENS, BY TEENS
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Shayna Solkowitz Woodcliff Lake, NJ
ne of the hardest things about being Jewish is constantly being the minority. Whether it’s public school or a rural area, there’s usually not a lot of other Jewish people around. Speaking from experience, if you don’t have people around you who share your beliefs, it’s easier to lose touch with what you value.
moved to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Now I live in a place with many Jews, and I’m less than fifteen minutes away from Monsey, New York, which is full of Jews—you can’t even walk a few steps without seeing long peyot and dozens of shuls. I went from not having a single kosher restaurant within a three hour drive, to having dozens of kosher restaurants within ten miles of my house.
That’s where CTeen comes in. There are CTeen chapters all around the world, and in all of those chapters, there are Jewish teens making connections with each other, and helping each other keep their Judaism strong.
Since I moved, I’ve rediscovered my Jewish identity. Experiencing this first hand, I wanted to use my “CTeen Connections,” and see how teens who aren’t surrounded by Jews deal with the challenges this brings.
I used to live in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Jewish community there is pretty small, and my family was one of the only ones that kept Shabbat and kosher. Growing up, especially in middle school, it was really hard to keep in touch with Judaism. Then, right before my freshman year, I
I decided to search for the answers to my burning question: How do we make Judaism a priority in a world that doesn’t? I knew the answers would come from my very own CTeen family. Here are a few awesome examples of fellow teens living their Jewish pride in the most random corners of the world:
and: k, Thail o k g n a ,B ewish matinia o find a J up of a t N is l o ie d n n Da a gro ou ca e t to find t thing y “The bes up. It’s importan learn and practic o d r n u g o a t , r y o o t supp nd wha o back t ou can g h. Furthermore, fi otivate you y le p o e p d let it m aism wit your Jud being Jewish, an ever you go.” ut her love abo ctice Judaism w to pra
nd, Diamo A: m a d C A iego, , San D eing strong b r ys “Alwa eeping you re k a , d t n h a straig on’t be s e i t i r D prio .” tant. impor ho you are y l l a e r w e b to afraid
Staying a strong Jew in a secular world is a hard task. But does it feel like a sacrifice? I wondered how other teens would answer this question. Most of us give something up in order to better practice Judaism, whether it’s saying no to a cheeseburger or to prom, most of us sacrifice something. My fellow CTeeners answered my question loud and clear: Judaism is not a sacrifice at all!
Sarah K Raleig eller, “Peop h, NC: l confid e respect ence, a you ow nd if n it, will ge people t it.”
Ryan Lipma n, C “Stay positiv ape Town, South Afr ica: e. Try doing something s everyday (e mall x: giving tze dakah, putt tefillin, or sa ing on ying Shema ) because it really make can your day a lo t better.”
, baum s j a R : xico iana Mar cun, Me f about Can yoursel re rm ple a o o f e n I P “ anti ism. Juda to make ents going tic comm the i Sem ds you in , and r s towa question efend f o od form no way t don’t ’s ou there rself if y ou are u y o t y wha t.” know ing abou k l a t
Emilio Chayo, Cancun, Mexico: “I skipped prom because it was on Shabbat. Trust me, it was a hard decision, but there was no way I would skip Shabbat for a dance.”
Rachel Frie dman, Fairfax, VA : “Being a pa rt of CTeen helped me tr ansition from day sc hool to pub lic school. CTe en has help ed me stay con nected to Judaism.”
Nina Pfrenger, Houston, TX: “I’m a senior. I won’t be able to attend my graduation this spring because it falls out on a Saturday morning. As disappointed as I am—I would have given a speech and everything—Shabbat is more important.”
Skipping a football game for a Shabbat dinner, missing school for the holidays, or giving up Sunday mornings in order to teach at Hebrew school, are all sacrifices Jewish teenagers around the world make. But, to many teens, they don’t feel like sacrifices. As Jews, it’s important to stick together, and keep our traditions alive. Even when it’s tough, and we feel like we’re alone, we’re not. There are thousands of teens going through exactly what we are. After talking to many teens from all different backgrounds, it’s apparent to me that surrounding ourselves with people who understand the best part and the struggles of being Jewish helps us stay connected. It’s important that we educate ourselves about Judaism in order to share our knowledge with others who may not know or understand. It’s our job, as Jewish teens in today's society to help educate and share who we are. It’s important that we shine on! 19
What Teens Need from Their
Role Models Orli Richman Stony Brook, NY
f I don’t speak up, who will? The question has been asked throughout history by Jews and others who were targets of hate crimes, and today, it continues to be asked.
Just this past year the Jewish people suffered a loss like no other in America. It was the worst singular attack on American Jews in the country’s history. “All Jews must die,” the murderer declared. The question remains: Why do attacks and hate crimes happen, and how should our role models address our concerns? First off, denial is not an answer. Hate crimes happen; it is no secret. Our leaders must be open about this and not hide the facts. Antisemitic acts will only continue to
happen if we are not aware. However, this doesn’t mean that we need to be constantly reminded of these tragic instances and install security in all of our synagogues. Doing this may only instill fear in a place that is supposed to be full of joy and pride. Instead, our leaders should be open to communication about hate crimes, and be there to ease our worries. Secondly, they should remind us that these
incidents should make us stronger as a nation and create a more secure ideal of what we want our world to be and what we don’t want it to be. Role models should also know that these events may cause a crisis in faith for members of the community. People may want to turn away from Judaism as many did after the Holocaust. Questions such as, “How could G-d allow this to happen?” and “How could people hate Jews this much?” may arise. While it is important to give these people the support they need, they may just need some time to recoup and re-identify themselves as Jews. Additionally, role models of the Jewish community need to remind us that in times of sadness, our strength as a nation can grow if we stick together. Jewish communities of all different backgrounds and levels of faith should come together to make each individual feel a part of the whole. If each community kept separate from one another, this would not allow for the development of our people. Leaders must recognize this and work to unite the Jewish
people even more than before. Leaders should also ensure that people of their communities understand that not all bad things can be prevented. People should not have to feel as though they are responsible for what happened, when there was really nothing they could have done to prevent it. Others may have a strong desire to take direct action. Role models should assist these people in finding a way to help those in need, whether that be by giving tzedakah, showing those who suffered that they are not alone, or doing a mitzvah in their honor. Most importantly, as mentioned before, any leader or role model should give people a safe space. After occurrences such as hate crimes, people often need a place where they can come to talk about what is going on in their minds. People may feel unsafe in their community and might need reassurance that they are safe and that there are people willing to help and support them. The power of words can be very strong and sometimes that is what a person needs. The key thing to know is that the world can only become a better place if we work together to make it one, and take on roles as leaders within our communities to help one another out in times of need.
Basking Ridge, NJ
hen I first arrived at the CTeen International Shabbaton two years ago, I was expecting CTeen the way I knew CTeen: A small group of teens with monthly events and an intimate environment. I was expecting a small gettogether in Brooklyn. I was one teen in a group of six, coming from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and I didn’t think that the other chapters would be that much bigger. Well, little did I know that many chapters would actually have dozens of people, with stickers for their Chapter of the Year campaign, and tons of spirit and singing, all trying to be louder than each other on the subways and in the streets. I was blown away by the sheer sizes of the chapters, and I was even a little intimidated. But coming to my third and last shabbaton, I have come to appreciate my small CTeen chapter. Basking Ridge is about forty minutes west of New York City, and this particular area of the suburbs has a relatively small Jewish population. Combine that with the high density of chapters in the New Jersey area, and you get a fun but small CTeen group. An area that might contain one or two chapters in many states can have five to seven chapters in suburban New Jersey, and that means that there are less people available for each one. We don’t meet that often, and events don’t usually attract more than twelve people. To some, that is business as usual, but to many, that is unheard of. Many chapters have their
own lounge, weekly meetings, and t-shirts. Us? Not as fancy. While these differences create a different overall experience than many are used to, I love how we operate as a very close family and always enjoy spending time with each other. It has also led me to be friends with everyone in the crowd: people that, outside of a small setting, I might not have had the courage to speak to. Sometimes we have combined events with nearby CTeen chapters, and we partner with our town’s BBYO chapter, as well. Then we have a bigger crowd. Usually, though, the events are small—but that doesn’t take away from my CTeen experience. I definitely take pride in being from a small chapter. Just because my chapter may not be as loud as some others may be, my passion for CTeen isn’t diminished. Obviously, there are different benefits and drawbacks to having a small or big chapter, and it’s part of the reason coming together for this annual shabbaton is so amazing. Every chapter has a unique identity, and without it, interacting with other groups wouldn’t be as fun. This combination of big and small helps to create the great atmosphere that the CTeen Shabbaton is known for. So while having our own lounge would be cool, I am very happy being in a small CTeen chapter. I have learned that small in numbers doesn’t mean small in spirit, and I hope others in small chapters are proud as well.
Carly Tamer West Suffolk County, NY
id you know that you’re unique? Do you ever stop to ponder the fact that Hashem, the Creator of the world, custom-made you for a specific purpose? All your traits and talents, that culminate in who you are and what you do, were curated by Hashem, and given to you so you can fulfill your life’s purpose. This idea is a keystone of CTeen, and has been an important part of my life as a high schooler. What makes me unique? My passions! My passion for graphics and media has enhanced my CTeen experience. I’ve used my talents to build my chapter’s CTeen website, and by capturing the essence of CTeen through the many videos I’ve created for CTeen Connection. If Hashem had not given me my love for these areas, my CTeen journey would not have been nearly as special. Every person has passions that make them unique. In addition, we all come from different parts of the world, with unique interests, personalities, talents, perspectives, and ideas.
Each individual's goals, talents, and traits were intentionally given to them by Hashem, and it is crucial that we honor and appreciate them all. If we were all the same, CTeen (and the world in general) would be boring. We are all different because Hashem wants us to figure out how to work together and love each other despite our differences. It is incredible to see teens connecting with teens who are so different from them, whether they live down the block or across the world. We are all brought together by one thing: our Judaism. Each person in CTeen brings something special to the group, and CTeen wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without every single person across the globe that dedicates their time to give back to others, learn about Judaism, and connect with other Jewish teens. I am so excited to connect with every custom-made CTeener at this year’s international shabbaton!
Andrew Stein Gaithersburg, MD
love the game “Stump the Rabbi.” I have a lot of questions about Judaism, and it’s always interesting to see how Rabbis and Rebbetzins will respond. I know I’m not the only one—all of us have burning questions that we would love to learn the answers to. In that spirit, here are some of your stumping questions, with responses from our very own CTeen Rabbis and Rebbetzins:
Why do we have to the repeat the story of every holiday every year? Each Jewish holiday has a unique energy that sparked miracles in its times. On each holiday, we can tap into that energy—by telling the story and reliving it, as if it’s happening now. —Rabbi Adi Goodman, CTeen Cooper City, FL
How do we know that there is an afterlife? Our soul is literally a piece of G-d inside of us, as we see in Genesis, that G-d formed the body of Adam and then blew a soul of life into him. Just as G-d is infinite and way beyond the limitations of this world, our soul, too, is infinite and lives on forever. —Rebbetzin Rochel Flikshtein, CTeen Delaware
Why is marrying a Jew so important? A marriage is a fusion of two half-souls, which were separated before birth, and are reunited under the chuppah. Since the makeup of the Jewish soul is different from that of the non Jewish soul, the soulmate of a Jew must be another Jew. —Rebbetzin Rochel Flikshtein, CTeen Delaware
Isn't pledging allegiance to the American flag kind of like idol worship? On the contrary! The American Flag is not a religious symbol, the symbol of a country which is constitutionally separate from religion. By Pledging allegiance you’re thanking America for the freedom of the country, and the rights you’ve been given.
Can a Jew be a medical examiner/someone who performs autopsies? Yes, with exceptions. A kohen, who is not allowed to come into contact with dead bodies, is not allowed to be a medical examiner. Anyone else may perform autopsies, except on the body of a Jew, which must be respected in life and death. —Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, CTeen West Suffolk, NY
-Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, CTeen West Suffolk, NY
Why is saying the Modeh Ani in the morning and the Shema at night so important? The way we start the day and end the day is important. By saying Modeh Ani, we start the day with gratitude to the One who believes in us and our potential, and grants us another day. By saying Shema, we end our day thinking about and connecting with G-d. — Rebbetzin Rochel Flikshtein, CTeen Delaware
What does it mean to "kosher" something? Keeping kosher requires not using utensils or dishes that came into contact with non kosher food. Some items may be koshered through different processes, usually involving heat, to remove any non-kosher that is absorbed into the walls of that item. -Rabbi Adi Goodman, CTeen Cooper City, FL
Why are Jews allowed to asked non-Jews to break Shabbat by turning on lights, etc? Actually, on Shabbat (after nightfall on Friday,) A Jew may not ask a non Jew to do anything he is not allowed to do himself. However, he can ask him to do a task that the Jew is allowed to do, and if on their own initiative, they would like to benefit from a Jewish prohibition such as turning on the light, they may do so. (*The laws of asking a non-Jew to do work on Shabbat are very complex and it is important to learn more about the details to this law.) —Rabbi Adi Goodman, CTeen Cooper City, FL
Could You Save a Life? Lynette Martin
ver the summer, I was granted the opportunity to attend the CTeen Leadership Retreat in Bushkill, PA. I was one of thirty five lucky teens to attend this awesome program. The retreat was extremely fun and educational. Going in, I knew that we would learn about leadership, but I didnâ€™t necessarily know what that meant. After all, what does it mean to be a real leader? We learned many important skills, like how to effectively communicate with others,
how to work with a team, and even how to do Krav Maga. However, the workshop that stands out most in my mind, one that helped me understand what it really means to lead, was SafeTalk, run by Rabbi Yarden Blumstein. At SafeTalk, we learned how to handle and assist our friends who are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. At first, I thought it was weird that we were discussing this at a leadership retreat. But then I realized: As leaders, this is what weâ€™re meant
Resources National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support Texting Suicide Prevention Hotline: https://www.crisistextline.org/ SafeTalk and SuicideTalk Prevention Training: livingworks.net Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative: http://www.rcii.org/
to do! We’re supposed to be there for our peers, and look out for ways to help them.
struggle with depression and suicidal
The SafeTalk training left me feeling confident about my abilities as a leader, and provided me with lots of resources and tips, including a booklet with national helplines and strategies. I loved how other CTeeners opened up about their thoughts on the topic as well. It was an impactful and emotional training.
anything to make them feel better. The name
It is hard to think about our friends who
life affirming tool.
thoughts. It may feel like we can’t do “SafeTalk” implies that it is safe to talk. This training made me feel comfortable as a resource that individuals can reach out to. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget, and I am so thankful to CTeen for offering all of us leaders this valuable and
Surviving Suicide M Alisa Schwartz
S. Antonio, TX
ental illness can affect anyone. It does not discriminate between race, gender, religion, social class, or physical appearance. Many of us suffer alone, in silence. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is often not identifiable externally; people put on masks to hide their struggles because they are afraid of what having a mental illness may mean. I remember the first time I realized that something was up with me. My family noticed changes in my behavior and suggesting that my outbursts may have been deeper than simply “becoming a teenager,” I continued to deny that anything could be seriously wrong. I did not want to admit that I needed help. Eventually, I was diagnosed with mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. As someone who had always been the bubbly one, my diagnoses was hard to accept. I remember, vividly, the first time I self-harmed. I did it because I thought it would help me deal with the emotional and mental pain, make it better, and maybe even make it go away. At least if it was physical pain, I could do something about it, right? Wrong. It turns out that you can get addicted to just about anything, and that’s true of self-harm, as well.
I convinced myself each time that I did it that it would feel good—that the pain would be an escape—yet, all it ever did was make me feel worse. The more I did it, the less I felt the physical pain, and it became harder and harder to quit.
Self harm led to suicide attempts. Suicide is a complex topic, one that most of us—myself included—don’t understand. People say it’s selfish; others say it’s more complicated than that. All I know are my truths: When I attempted to take my life, yes, I wanted to escape all the pain, but even more so, I wanted to eliminate all the pain that I believed I was causing those around me. At that point, I was out of school, and in and out of treatment facilities that were meant to keep me alive while trying to help me get better. It was taking so much time, money, and energy and was causing such emotional turmoil for all those around me, I thought being gone would make all of that disappear. When a person is in a dark enough place that they want to hurt or kill themselves, it is nearly impossible to understand their feelings without experiencing them yourself. At that point, the main thing that helps is unconditional love and support from those who care and making sure the person knows that you will never give up on
him or her.
the top of my class.
To be clear: I did receive professional help. It took time for me to find the right fit, but along the way, I knew I had the unconditional love and support of my family and friends, which made all the difference. When anyone is in this place, it is so important to try to remind them of the truth, until it is so ingrained in them that they begin to believe it too.
The first step to preventing future suicides— or attempts— is to be open to having conversations about it. The myth that talking about suicide puts the idea in people’s heads is just that—a myth. If a person is considering suicide, talking about it can help him/her understand the resources available to help, and that suicide is not the answer. When having a conversation with someone who is contemplating suicide, it is important not to belittle or make jokes about their feelings because they should feel supported, loved, and comfortable while sharing. It is important to listen, give them hope that things will get better, and help them find the right professional help.
As I worked on breaking my cycle of self-harm, I continued to attend regular therapy sessions and work with my psychiatrist to find the right medications to fix the chemical imbalance in my brain. Within a few months, I began to feel better and eventually started to feel like myself again. To stop harming myself, I had to find healthy coping mechanisms. There are ones that people often suggest: write, exercise, draw, etc., and while those may work, I believe it is important to find ones that are unique to you, your interests, and what helps you to be calm. For me, some of those include listening to music and writing lyrics to my own songs. Between therapy, medication, and healthy coping mechanisms, even people with chronic mental health illnesses may be able to manage their health and live “normal” lives. Getting better doesn’t happen overnight, and the treatment timeline is different for everyone. I struggled for years and was eventually able to overcome my illness, trying different treatments until we found what worked. The thing is, I did beat it. I am ALIVE and THRIVING! To prove that a person with mental illness can be successful, I am spending the year in Israel at my top choice program, I am going to my dream college, and in spite of all the school I missed, I graduated at
As we start the conversation, we begin to break down stigmas and make it more socially acceptable to talk about mental illness. We can can set the example of treating someone with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses as we would someone who has diabetes or cancer—with respect, love, dignity, and support. Sharing my story has opened so many doors. I have had the privilege of meeting with a professional basketball player, being interviewed on the news, working with a group of teens on suicide prevention, and helping people find their way through their mental health challenges. Whether you have struggled personally, know someone who struggles, or care about the issue, get involved! If we work together, if we show we care, we have the chance to save lives.
Teens Join CTeen, You Won't Believe What Happens Next! Ellie Glaser Leeds, UK
It’s a fact: CTeeners love CTeen! We love CTeen for the exciting moments: parties and events, for friends and the ruach (spirit). CTeen is a home for us, where Jewish spirit unites with the power of YOUth to create a unique environment in which we can flourish as Jewish teens. But, I wonder, why do alumni continue to love CTeen as much as they do? We checked in with some CTeen alumni, to see how CTeen has shaped their lives in the year or two since they graduated from high school. No surprise, every single alum that I spoke to said that CTeen taught them valuable lessons that have changed the course of their lives.
“CTeen showed me the beauty of being Jewish and made it accessible to me.” ~ Hannah Kaplun, Woodcliff Lake, NJ “CTeen definitely helped shape who I am today. It taught me leadership, pride and empathy. I grew into the person I am today because of my time at CTeen.” ~ Ryan DeCosta, Suffern, NY
“Thanks to the amazing Rabbis and teens, I was reminded of the fun and excitement that comes along with being a Jew.”
“CTeen gave me a place where I could express who I really am.”
~ Netanel Ashkenazi, S. Antonio, TX
~ Sarah Salles, Cooper City, FL
My time at CTeen continues to prove to me how important it is for our generation to be proud of who we are, and how, when we come together, we can accomplish anything.” ~ Nathalie Tick, Mequon, WI “CTeen helped me develop as a person and helped me overcome many barriers that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the tools to face. I am so grateful to CTeen. Also, singing Shema in front of thousands of people in Times Square was one of the highlights of my life!” ~ Aby Singer, Panama City, Panama
“CTeen was one of the best things I was involved in during high school, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.” ~ Tomer Andegeko, Grand Rapids, MI
Before writing this article, I saw CTeen as a youth group, my escape from reality, a haven of happiness away from exams and social pressures and judgements. I now realize that it is so much more. The experiences we have in CTeen have a personal impact on each of us. Individually, CTeen enables us to explore our identity as Jewish teens, allows us to build on our relationship with Hashem, and fuels our daily lives with enthusiasm. Moreover, CTeen unites all of us from around the globe, connecting us as an international family and truly incorporating the “power of youth” into our lives. If you’re a freshman, you have a ways to go before you have time to reflect. If you’re a senior, your time is now. How has CTeen shaped you into the person you want to be?
Silence in Public School: Will It Work? Hannah Butcher
Lake Worth, FL
y high school was forty minutes away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. After the shooting there last year, my schoolâ€™s administration hastily reacted by enacting a confusing string of new rules: our IDs were required to be visible at all times, the front doors to all buildings were locked, teachers were doubly employed as hall monitors, and cameras were mantled to the sides of all office buildings. While these precautions were justified, it is debatable whether or not they were truly effective. Douglas survivors joined the International CTeen NYC Shabbaton last February, baruch Hashem, in order to celebrate life through Judaism. There, Rabbi Shimon Rivkin officially announced that CTeen had launched its own initiative to prevent
gun violence in public schools: moments of silence before each day begins. I asked a few public school students, kids from diverse religious backgrounds, what they thought about the moment of the silence proposal. “Students are always stressed with everything,” junior Zach D. said. “Whether it be self-consciousness, school work, or lack of sleep… [A moment of silence] would really give them a calmness before walking into the rest of the day.” While most supported a moment of silence, some of the kids I interviewed were strongly against the movement, saying that it violated the Constitution and the separation of church and state. However, as of 2014, state legislations in a total of thirty-four states permit public schools to hold moments of silence. It is already legalized in places like Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Virginia because congressman recognize its educational value. If you encounter someone who may be against moments of silence in public schools, explain to them that a “moment of silence” has multiple definitions depending on the student. They will then realize the beauty of the idea. A moment of silence isn’t strictly religious, nor is it strictly secular. Unobservant students can use reflection time to contemplate what they want to achieve, what they want to learn, or their goals for the month ahead. Jewish students, though, can choose to internally daven at this time, whisper to themselves the Modeh Ani prayer, or simply reflect on what G-d would want them to accomplish that day. The overall goal, no matter your religious background, is to consciously and unconsciously acknowledge a higher power and a greater purpose. It is meant to take the focus away from the self and place it on the universe. Still not convinced? Evidence highlights the positive impact of a moment of silence in public schools. In the words of the administration of P.S. 191, The Paul Robeson Elementary School in Brooklyn, N.Y., adopting a moment of silence in the beginning of every day has made a
drastic impact on their school climate. Students transformed from being uncaring to empathetic simply by being given the chance to think at the start of the day: “Before we introduced [a moment of silence] several years ago, overall student attendance was down, parent participation was low, and student achievement was climbing but not at the rate that everyone was hoping for,” read a 2013 report. “Our students required, and still require, a greater need to be listened to. Our students required new ways of dealing with emotion and crisis. Our students needed the time and an outlet that would provide an opportunity to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of their experiences. They needed to become more contemplative... The moment of silence provided the students an opportunity to become more mindful and reflective of their experiences inside and outside the classroom. The students have become more introspective in their writing and have a greater appreciation, empathy, and understanding of their peers... Students have also gained a greater understanding of educational objectives.” For six years, the Rebbe spoke about a moment of silence during his satellite-broadcasted farbrengens (chassidic gatherings). He said that, “experience has shown that you need not go to Washington to have an effect. You can act on a local level, in your own city, by lobbying individuals with influence in the matter in your town or neighborhood.” (20 Av, 5746) Clearly, the benefits of implementing a moment of silence before each school day are astounding. Students who reflect before the day starts (and not in the middle of the day when they are exhausted and apathetic) contemplate the time ahead of them, embrace their empathy, and are thankful for the day they are given. They not only become better students by doing this, they also become better human beings. This CTeen initiative is sweeping the nation; in a few easy steps, you can join the movement too. Help us achieve world peace by encouraging your school to reflect before the start of every single day. 33
I Tried It!!! Emilio Chayo Cancún, México
magine this: You are running like your life depends on it. The feeling of the wind in your face, the roaring crowd cheering you on, the pain in your legs from sprinting so long. You have only one goal: to make it to the end. You are at the top of your game, the height of the thrill, unbeatable. And then… Boom! You crash, face first, into the ground. One pebble is all it takes to bring you down, stop you along your tracks, and keep you from achieving your dream.
trying to be faster and stronger than we were before. Some races are doable at first but get harder with time, and some are extremely difficult to start, but once you catch up, there is nothing to hold you back.
Life, in many ways, is a track and field tournament. During the course of our lives, we run multiple races, all in the hopes that we'll get to be the one who wins in the end. Who are we racing? To me, the answer is, ourselves. We are always racing ourselves,
The Jewish laws about guarding our tongue are very extensive, and over the years, many books have been written in an effort to help us understand how and why this mitzvah is kept. These are the very basics of lashon hara:
In the spirit of bettering myself, I decided to try something new, and take on a new challenge: not speaking lashon hara. Lashon hara (literally, “evil tongue,”) is when someone speaks in a derogatory way about a person..
It is forbidden to speak negatively about someone, even if it’s true. Gossip is not allowed! You’re not allowed to listen to or take part in gossip or slander that is being said about someone else—even if you don’t speak at all. It is forbidden to listen to or believe in lashon hara that one hears; one should always judge people favorably. Even more so, you can’t even go as far as to suggest something negative about another person, or even yourself! Why, out of the many things I could've chosen to “race” with, did I choose lashon hara? There are many ways to hurt somebody, for example, physically or financially, but none come close to hurting someone emotionally. Wounds and bruises heal over time, and money can be repaid, but harming someone through our speech lingers, like a scar. Yes, it might be small, and it might be well hidden and often looked over, but in the end, it's always there. Gossip hurts. All of us have been on both ends of gossip. We all look back and regret saying something mean to that kid in middle school, or that time we made fun of a waiter, not only because it affected them, but also because it affected us. Speaking lashon hara is sometimes so ingrained into our minds that we don't even realize we are saying it, but I'm here to tell you that it can be different. As much as we’d all like to stop gossiping and make a positive change right away, life doesn’t really work that way. After all, if we could just walk to the finish line, there would be no race at all. Over the course of a month, I tried to better myself. I picked out an hour every day where I would try my hardest to keep those three core tenets of guarding oneself from lashon
hara. Although I tried my best to make it to the end of the race without tripping, it goes without saying that I tripped. A lot. Sometimes I didn't realize it was that hour of the day, or sometimes I didn't realize what I was saying/hearing until I said/heard it, or sometimes the pull was just too strong. Let’s be honest: It’s really, really hard not to talk about other people. I tripped up a lot, but that’s how I learned how to overcome the obstacles. One of the strategies that I found to be the most effective was to fight fire with water. If during the hour I spoke or listened to lashon hara, I made a point to make a positive comment about whoever the lashon hara was about. The first few times, this got a weird reaction from people, but I think people understood what I was trying to do. Gossip is ingrained into our society, but it doesn’t have to be. By the end of the month, people came to expect that I would always have something nice to say about everyone. The experience was fascinating. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to control the words that come out of my mouth. I totally think that every one of us would benefit from changing the way we think and speak about our peers, friends, and even strangers on the internet. All and all, guarding myself against lashon hara helped me win a lot of races, some I didn't even realize I was running. It’s important and awesome to try out new things that are difficult for you. I encourage all of my fellow CTeeners to try something new—for a day, a week, a month, whatever!— and get in the spirit of changing the world, one positive deed at a time. Encourage yourself to keep going and stand up when you trip. And remember this: No matter how many tries it takes, a winner is a loser who tried one more time.
Losing Finding My Religion Julia Rozenfeld Bucks County, PA
he great thing about Judaism is that it’s more than just a religion. It’s a culture, a people, a family you can connect with no matter how involved you are with the religious aspects. The first time I realized this was about six years ago when I moved from North Providence, Rhode Island, to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Where I used to live, I was the only Jew in my school and I didn’t find a problem with that because I was pretty secular. I celebrated Hanukkah and Passover with my family, but never formed true connections with the holidays and religion; it seemed more of an excuse to get off from school than a celebration of historical—and biblical—events. However, this all changed when I arrived in Bucks County. As refugees from the Soviet Union who faced religious persecution, my parents found it important that I understand my Jewish identity and have more exposure to other Jewish kids. At the time, I did not understand this at all. I was moving six hours away and leaving all my friends for a stupid purpose such as this? While the reasons for moving seemed dumb to me at the time, my parents knew I would see the benefits of this in the future. Our move coincided with Rosh Hashana. I found myself at a Chabad House—for the first time in my life—for a Rosh Hashana dinner. I’ll be
honest: I didn’t even know what Rosh Hashana was. I had never heard of it before, let alone celebrated it. I wore jeans and a t-shirt, thinking this was normal attire for a dinner. However, when I got there, all the other young girls were dressed in skirts and dresses. I was ready to be judged and laughed at for my ignorance in dress. Instead, this night became one of the best memories I have of my moving here, and it is the night I met my first Jewish friends--people who I am still extremely close with today. From that day forward, I have met some of the greatest people through my local Jewish community, and later on, through CTeen. Judaism has become a way to connect with others in a way that I was not able to do in my old hometown. It has led me to a family that I can count on and feel accepted in, all because of one shared quality--Judaism. As a teenager, it is easy to start feeling lost or stressed with all of the pressure put on us nowadays. This is why it’s necessary to build strong friendships and bonds with others during this time of your life. And for me, Judaism helped me find those certain individuals that I know I can rely on. Without a connection to my Jewish Heritage, I’m not sure how I’d have found my amazing friends, who have become like family.
Do You Know What the
Quincy Barrett Manchester, UK
In “CTeen” Stands For?
have been a proud member of CTeen for a long time, starting before we even had an official chapter here in Manchester, UK.
In the beginning, I didn’t realize the importance of belonging to this group that helped me discover my Jewish identity. I didn’t even know what the C in CTeen stood for. I’ve come a long way from those days! (In case you don’t know, it stands for Chabad!) It took our incredible CTeen Shluchim, Rabbi Shalom and Mushky Cohen, to turn CTeen into the amazing program that it is today. I was pretty surprised when I first met them. They were so...non-English, and so enthusiastic about CTeen. I wasn’t sure they knew what they were getting themselves into, but boy, was I wrong! CTeen became a core part of my life. From TGIS shabbatons to chill zones, I found myself constantly coming back for more. I couldn’t get enough. I was inspired to continue growing. So, when the chance arose for me to become a CTeen leader, I held on and didn’t let go. It has been a privilege and honor to be a CTeen leader this past year. Since taking on the role, I’ve grown in ways that I never thought would be possible. I’ve been able to take my leadership skills to a new level by creating games for Shabbat meals, setting the scene for game nights, helping plan for regional shabbatons, and much more. When I first came to New York for the International Shabbaton, I had no idea
what to expect, but the weekend far surpassed anything that I could have imagined. The idea that I was one of thousands of teens coming to New York to spend Shabbat felt awesome. The idea that there are teenagers like me all around the world who are also CTeen members, was mind blowing. I came back from the shabbaton desperate to go back, and sure enough, a short four months later, I was the first non-North American to go on the Leadership Retreat. Because of CTeen, I have friends in the far-flung ends of the Earth. Because of CTeen, I now see how I can express my Judaism in a non-Jewish world. Because of CTeen, I have a rabbi to whom the only bad question is the one not asked. To express my true feelings about CTeen, I quote one of my biggest inspirations, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. A few years ago, when people were arguing about how far up the family tree one needs to go to prove being Jewish, Rabbi Sacks said the following insightful line: “The question is not so much whether your grandparents were Jewish, but whether your grandchildren will be Jewish.” CTeen has taught me how important Judaism is to me, and how much of a role I can play in carrying Judaism on through the chain of generations. From what began as a simple barbeque with a few friends, CTeen is now, to me, an all-encompassing movement that allows all teenagers, from whatever background, to find joy in their Judaism.
Keeping It Lit Noah Roffe Skokie, IL
he CTeen International Shabbaton attracts people with very diverse backgrounds and opinions. I think the one fact that everyone can agree on is that leaving the shabbaton is by far the worst part. So how do we make sure that the lessons, experiences, and inspiration we gained on the shabbaton, don’t go to waste?
a huge effect by itself. Think of inspiration like a fire: It is very powerful when first lit, but, if it’s not attended to, it can easily burn out in seconds. Think about how inspired you are now, here, reading this, at the NYC Shabbaton with thousands of Jewish teens just like you. Pretty great, right? How can you make this feeling last all year round? How can you fan the fire?
It’s all about inspiration. But, what is inspiration? Simply put, inspiration is the intangible feeling that makes you want to do something you wouldn’t normally do. For example, someone attending a CTeen shabbaton might be inspired to take a new mitzvah, like lighting Shabbat candles, or wearing a kippah in public. (Shout-out to all the awesome teens out there who have taken those on!)
In order for inspiration to have its maximum impact, an action must go along with it. Additionally, it is helpful to establish a system that will ensure that this action gets completed. For example, a person attends a CTeen Shabbaton and they become inspired to wear tzitzit. The person should then set up a system that ensures he will continuously wear tzitzit in order for the inspiration to have the intended impact. Inspiration, like fire, can be a beautiful, amazing thing, when used and fed properly.
Inspiration seems like an amazing thing, and it is, but there is one big flaw to inspiration—it is only in thought and feeling, and not in action. Therefore, it won't have
Part of drawing in inspiration comes from
the lessons you take away from your experiences. The CTeen International Shabbaton is basically a huge, incredible experience made up of smaller experiences. You’ll probably end up doing things you’ve never done before—how many times can you say that you’ve stood in Times Square to hear Havdalah? Obviously, taking pictures is a great way to remember experiences, but most of the shabbaton takes place on Shabbat, when taking pictures and using technology isn’t allowed. But, ironically, the best memories people have are often when the cameras aren’t around. It’s those moments, those experiences, that help us take away lessons that will stay with us once the lights of Times Square have dimmed in our memories. So, how do we take memories and put them into practice? How do you grow from the lessons you learned this weekend? Each person has their own way, of course.
Every person is different and everyone has their own individual, optimal, method of making sure the candle stays lit. But, everyone’s lives can undergo a huge positive change if the inspiration is maintained. Personally, one way I maintain my own motivation to learn more Torah, is by partnering with a friend to learn with. So even during times when I feel that the inspiration might die down, or simply that there is no time to keep it lit, I have a responsibility to my friend that I must uphold. Also, you are more likely to keep a good resolution if it’s something you do on a regular basis; say, at the same time every day or week. It’s also good to write it down, to give it that “set in stone” effect. So all in all, it’s up to you to organize ways to preserve the lessons, memories, and inspiration you bring home from the CTeen International Shabbaton, and any local shabbatons as well.
empowered! Talk to your principal about starting a KFC (Kosher Food Club) in your school.
BUDD ES Your chance to learn one-on-one with a fellow Chabad teen.
HEAD TO CTEEN.COM/TORAHBUDDIES TO SIGN UP.
IN CONJUNCTION WITH
YOUR TORAH BUDDY.
My Friends Told Me to Hide My Judaism... I Turned It into Gabrielle Scheinert Hollywood, FL
t’s easy for Jewish public school students to lose touch with their Judaism. It's common to try to blend in to your surroundings rather than stand out, especially when there’s only a handful of Jewish teens at your school. In order to fit in, some people disconnect or try to hide their Jewishness in school. I am not one of those people. It’s hard to be the one of the only Jews in my grade who don’t try to hide being Jewish in school. As a person who is always open about who I am, it’s difficult to be around people who wish I would hide my identity. I decided that I needed a way to express my Jewish pride at school in a way that would resonate with my peers. I decided that art, a universal language, could help accomplish this. I began exploring my connection to Judaism at school through art. It was a great way to integrate the things I felt personally connected with. One of my art classes included photography. I was assigned a topic that I would focus on throughout the year. That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head: I would focus on, expand, and explore my knowledge about my religion at my public school! My ability to remain connected with Judaism and myself in my school environment was through religion-exploration-based
photography. By the end of the year, I would need twelve photos, each one completely different from the next, but still having a joint visual representation of my topic. The central idea of my concentration was to create a series of digital photographs that were centered around the ideas of Judaism. I created this series of works because I have been raised in a Jewish family; I have a vested interest in Judaism because I am a part of a Jewish organization and enjoy exploring the topic of my heritage. Through my photography project, I was able to uncover more and more about Judaism. I focused on anti-Semitism, Shomer Negia, and various traditions. There are things that I would be completely uneducated about if not for relating art to Judaism. Each page completed, each photograph taken, and each sentence written, reflected a part of me and my journey through my Jewish lifestyle. It was amazing to find a unique connection to Judaism in this environment. By taking what was available to me—my heritage— and exploring it from a new perspective, I was able to connect with it in ways I never could have imagined. I took on this project as a way of expressing my Jewish pride. Not only do I feel prouder to be a Jew, but now, I understand my place in the world so much more.
Gabrielle's portfolio featured dozens of images of Jewish life.
I Kept Shabbat... on a Mission to
Nina Pfrenger Houston, TX
ey y’all! My name is Nina Pfrenger, and if you didn’t already guess from the “y’all,” I live in Houston, Texas.
I’m currently a senior at a public high school. I’m also an observant Jew. About a year and a half ago, at the 2017 CTeen Shabbaton, my journey to become more observant started. After the Shabbaton, I took on dressing modestly, and keeping Passover. After that, I started keeping Shabbat every week. (Thanks to the amazing Lazaroff family for hosting me every week!) It wasn’t long before I was keeping more and more mitzvot.
Florida. I was so excited when I was picked for the onsite program, but I was always nervous. I knew they were accommodating in previous years, but I was still worried that I would have issues rise up when asking for exceptions. Not only did they accommodate me with a kosher meal plan, but the program also fell out in the middle of the week, so I wouldn’t have to spend Shabbat there. I was extremely grateful for the accommodations I received.
Throughout my junior year—while I was increasing my observance— I participated in an online course called NASA High School Aerospace Scholars (or HAS for short). It was through this program that I was able to participate in an amazing week-long onsite program at none other than “Houston, we have a problem”: NASA!
When the program officially began, I had the best time ever. We constructed and launched our own rockets, got to visit mission control, where we saw astronauts on the International Space Station, and got to hear from really interesting speakers who worked on projects at NASA. At the closing ceremony, I even won the Ambassador Award (for promoting the HAS program through social media the most).
I heard about this program from a girl at my Chabad House who participated the year prior to me. She told me that they were extremely accommodating to letting her wear skirts, keep kosher, and keep Shabbat. As someone who wants to go into mechanical engineering, this sounded like the best of both worlds! Only a select few are chosen to participate in the program at the Johnson Space Center in
Becoming more observant has changed my life (for the better, of course) but it doesn’t hinder what I am able to do. I still have opportunities to experience amazing programs that any other person could attend, while still keeping all of the mitzvot. Seeing how accommodating this program was has shown me that I can be an observant Jew and still do what I love in my life, and so can you!
It’s A Trap! Samara Smukler Boca Raton, FL
or many of us, social media is a lifestyle. We're checking Instagram first thing in the morning, taking BuzzFeed quizzes when we’re procrastinating, keeping tabs on a million WhatsApp group chats, and scrolling through funny tweets on Twitter daily, without fail.
While we wouldn’t usually associate this consumption with education, there's a lot social media can teach us, as well. Here are some of the many things we can learn from social media.
Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. Social media is often a breeding ground for comparison and competition. It's so easy to make judgements about someone’s life based on what you see on social media, whether it’s that person at school who always looks perfect, or your favorite celebrity who’s on their tenth vacation of the month, or your best friend who just got into their dream college, or even other CTeen chapters who are having a blast. But you're only seeing a carefully curated and filtered part of who they are, through a very selective lens. Remember that everyone has their struggles, even when they'd prefer not to let others see that. Plus, you have plenty to be proud of, too! Make sure your feed feeds your soul. Social media can be a source of boundless inspiration and creativity, if you use it well. The people you're following should spark positivity in you, not bring you down. Isn't it crazy how sometimes we can like pictures on Instagram posted by people we aren't too fond of behind the screen? It’s healthy and sometimes necessary to unfollow or mute people who bring negativity to your life and make you feel “less than.” Similarly, it’s awesome to follow people who inspire you and make you feel better when you’re scrolling down your feed. We can also use social media to become even closer to our Judaism. I personally have been able to connect with other Jewish teens, learn about important news and events happening in Israel and for Jewish people around the world, and discover new community service opportunities to do mitzvot, through social media. These opportunities are so soulenriching, and would not be accessible without social media! We can really be grateful to have it all. Choose living in the moment over just trying to capture it. I'm totally guilty of this, too—taking a picture of your food as it’s brought to the table at a restaurant, spending an entire trip abroad
snapping pictures of all the sights, having your friends take a ton of photos of you when you feel like you're looking your best. But often, as we’re poised behind the lens, we’re forgetting to make those memories beyond it. Be present. Take five pictures instead of trying to get fifty on your search for the “perfect” photo. Make real memories rather than attempting to pose them. Manage your screen time wisely. Thanks to new advances in technology, it’s now possible to see exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone as well as on certain apps. Most of us probably don’t want to know! That’s why it’s important to have strong timemanagement skills. When you catch yourself reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, wait. Take in the new day and just let yourself wake up naturally first. Similarly, don’t go on your phone too much before bed; allow your body to unwind without the light of your screen tricking your brain and messing up your sleep schedule. Give yourself certain times during the day where you refrain from checking your phone or refreshing social media. (This especially helps when you’re doing homework or studying!) It’s great that we have all of this new information at our fingertips, but that also means we’re often just constantly consuming, consuming, consuming. It’s awesome to spend time behind your screen, but it’s also important to step back from it for a few moments! You have a voice. One of the most important things about social media is that it gives you the opportunity to express yourself in a positive way. Whether your interests lie in the arts, politics, sports, education, animals, or anything else, the iinternet has the ability to connect you to things you are passionate about and allow you to share your love for them. Originality and creativity should never be stifled, and social media grants you the incredible chance to use both. Now go and be your best self, both online and offline! 49
Finding Life in a Death Camp Julia LandIs
t all started in Poland, at the death camp named Treblinka. I was one of forty girls attending CTeen’s Heritage Quest this summer. Poland was our first stop, followed by Israel a week later. I was excited and nervous about the experiences that were yet to come.
Each camper was asked to choose and “adopt” a town, one that we would bring the memory of home after the trip. The goal was for us to connect with and commemorate the lives from that town that never had the chance to experience life as we do.
Walking into Treblinka felt surreal. My shoulders felt heavy as I walked along the path that our ancestors walked on many years before. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Everyone felt solemn.
At first, I thought it was a bit odd and random for us to do this, but it was a very thoughtful action to take. I walked in a couple rows and decided on a stone. My friend took a picture of me in front of it and then we both went on to catch up with everyone else. The name on the stone was Radom. It was a powerful experience, but to be honest, I didn’t think about it much after we left. We finished our tour of Treblinka, and continued on our way.
Unlike other concentration camps, Treblinka was completely razed after the war. As we walked up to the camp, we saw about seventeen thousand stones which were memorials for the death camp. Our tour guide explained that the stones commemorate the towns of origin of the Jews who perished there. Each stone was built to commemorate an entire town, not just one person. That put into perspective how many people had perished in the spot that I was standing in. So many people who died there have been left unidentified until this day.
The importance of this gravestone was only recognized when I got home from my trip two weeks later. Upon returning home, I discovered that the photo had much more meaning. I was talking to my grandma about my trip, so we started with Poland. She mentioned to me that my greatgrandfather was from Poland—which was
new information to me. I asked her what town he was from, and she said, “Radom.” As soon as those words left her lips, I started sobbing. I could not believe that she had said the name of the town on the stone that I took a picture in front of. Hashem had guided me to my family’s memorial stone. My grandma explained to me that my great-grandfather was the only one to survive out of his entire family. He had escaped the ghetto with a friend and fled to Ukraine.
Radom was my great-grandfather’s birthplace, and out of seventeen thousand stones in Treblinka, that is the one I had stopped at. I attended Heritage Quest because I wanted to learn about our history, and explore the world in a unique way. What I gained was so much deeper and profound than I could have expected. Thank you, CTeen, for connecting me with my roots.
Argentina Bahia Blanca Buenos Aires Rosario Wolfsohn Australia Vaucluse RARA Sydney Kingston AZERBAIJAN Baku BELARUS Minsk Mogilev Belgium Brussels Edegem
Choisy-le-roi Clichy Clichy La Garenne Colmar Colombes Creteil Domont Fontenay-sous-bois Gagny Ivry-sur-seine Joinville Juan Les Pins Kremlin La-Varenne-saint-hilaire Les Lilas Levallois Longjumeau Lyon Marseille Massy Maurepas Meaux Metz
Frankfurt Munich Guatemala Guatemala City
Asuncion Romania Bucharest
California Sherman Oaks S.
Holland Amsterdam India Mumbai Israel The Gush Ashkelon Gadera Giv’at Ada Kfar Saba Kiryat Gat Kiryat
Brazil Curitiba Rio De Janeiro S. Paulo Canada Hampstead Victoria British Columbia Ottawa Montreal Alberta Cote S. Luc Mississauga Maple Toronto Ville S Laurent Calgary Durham Edmonton Richmond Richmond Hill Thornhill Vaughan Victoria Colombia Bogota Cali Costa Rica S. Jose Estonia Tallinn France Alfortville Antony Aubervilliers Aulnay Bois-Colombes Bondy Boulogne Bry-sur-marne Casablanca Cergy Pontoise Charenton Chaville
Montmagny Montmorency Montrouge Nice Nogent-sur-marne Pantin Paris Pavillon Sous Bois Poissy PontaultCombault Puteaux Rennes Ris Orangis Romainville Rouen S-Germain-en-Laye Saint Gratien Saint Maur Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt Saint-Cloud Sarcelles Sarcelles Village Savigny-sur-orge Sceaux Sevres Strasbourg Sucy-en-Brie Suresnes Toulon Toulouse Tours Verriere Le Buisson Versailles Villeneuve La Garenne Villiers-sur-marne Vincennes - Saint-Mé Germany Dusseldorf
Bialik Lod Nahariya Nes Tsiyona Netanya Netivot Omer Ramla Rechovot Tiberias Dimona Petach Tikva Rish L’Tzion KAZAKHSTAN Alma-Ata
Thailand Bangkok United Kingdom Birmingham Finchley Leeds London Manchester Radlett
Mexico Cancun Guadalajara
Birobidzhan Ekaterinburg Khabarovsk Krasnodar Moscow Nizhny Novgorod Orenburg Perm Rostov-on-Don S. Petersburg Samara Tomsk Ufa Ulyanovsk Volgograd
South Africa Cape Town Johannesburg
Latvia Riga Luxembourg Luxembourg Malta St. Julians
Panama Paitilla, Panama City Paraguay
Watford West Hampstead USA Alabama Alabama City Alaska Anchorage Arizona East Valley Scottsdale
Brentwood Tustin Pacific Palisades Malibu S. Monica Contra Costa The Valley Tustin Conejo Valley Poway Dana Point Folsom and El Dorado Hills Laguna Beach Placer County Palo Alto M. Viejo S. Clarita Valley Ojai Laguna Nigel Mt Olympus Bakersfield Los Angeles S Clemente chula vista Sonoma County Beverly Hills Castro Valley Bel Aire Redondo Beach Los Altos Los Alamitos & Cypress Long Beach Irvine S. Diego Goleta Los Gatos Marin County Colorado Denver NW Metro Denver South Metro Denver Longmont
Looking at this map, itâ€™s hard to believe that CTeen is only 11 years old! Can you spot your chapter on the list? Stapelton
West Palm Beach
Southern Dutchess County
Morganville Mullica Hill Old
Olney Battery Park City Tribeca
Knoxville Texas Dallas
Merion Station Rhode Island
West Suffolk County
stream Brighton Beach
Plano Woodlands Houston S. Antonio Sugar Land West Houston Arlington
Eastern Orange County Roslyn
Bensonhurst Ulster County
North Fulton Illinois Bal Harbor
Rivertowns Manhattan Beach
North Carolina Cary
Chabad of South Broward
Dnepropetrovsk Kiev Greensboro
Morrisville Raleigh Queens
Sheepshead Bay Larchmont
Bellaire Salt Lake City
Reasons Cteen's Why R and Reb abbis betzins Are the Best!
Our CTeen Rabbis and Rebbetzins do everything for us! They are the reason that CTeen keeps on ticking. Here are ten reasons why they are the best! â†’ Sara Weiss Skokie, IL 56
They Are Committed
They Are Understanding
They Are Courageous
Our rabbis and rebbetzin are committed to us and to Judaism. They are willing to leave everything behind— often moving to the middle of nowhere— just to offer another Jew the chance at a Jewish life. Did you know that CTeen has chapters in Mumbai, India, and Rara, Australia? Yeah, that’s commitment!
They don’t see labels. There is no “Orthodox”, “Conservative”, or “Reform.” A Jew is a Jew and that is all that matters.
How many people do you know that will move to the middle of nowhere without many resources to build a community? Shluchim are those people, and they do it for us!
They Are Welcoming Our rabbis and rebbetzins ALWAYS have their doors open to anyone for anything at anytime.
They Are Hardworking Organizing a Jewish community in the middle of Africa is not easy, but they make it look like a piece of cake!
They Are Fun They don’t lecture. They teach Torah without watering down, in a way that all of us teens can relate to.
They Are Resourceful
8 # 9
They have the Cutest Families
They always seem to have the right answers for us. No question is off limits.
We all know our Chabad rabbis’ kids are the cutest ever!
They Work Together Forming the Chabad community was not easy, keeping it together is even harder. Yet these Chabad rabbis stick to their beliefs, work hard, and do it together.
They Are Inspirational They make the world a better place by ordinary—and extraordinary—means for every teen, adult, and child! 57
Rebecca Myers Manchester, UK
Hashem makes each Jew in his image, yet we are all unique in our own special way. Every aspect of ourselves and our lives is designed especially for us. Our lives are all made up of different components that are each unique to us...kind of like our choices of ice cream! Whatâ€™s your flavor? Take this quiz and find out!
Are you of Ashkenazi or Sephardic descent?  Ashkenazi  Sephardic
Whatâ€™s your favorite shabbos food?
 Mitzvahs  Minhags (customs)
 I love both
What do you prefer?
 Chicken soup  Cholent  Kugel
What’s your favorite category of food?
My Jewish Holiday is...
Which is your favorite of the three main Jewish holidays?
 Chanukah  Lag B’Omer
I really love...
On Chanukah, I prefer:
I attend a:  Secular school
 I like them both!
 Chanukah gelt
 Jewish school
 Sufganiyot (Dounuts)
If you answered mostly A, you are… Classic You love to keep things classy and are in par with tradition.
If you answered mostly B, you are… Classic with a twist You love tradition and also love to try new things.
If you answered mostly C, you are… Modern You love to mix it up and try new things.
שבילי נב ר א
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