A Moment In Time

8 years ago Leighest 0

By Sarah Zolty

As an experienced CTeen-er, I have been attending the New York International Shabbaton since I was a freshman, three years ago. Seeing as this will be my last year, it will be a bittersweet experience. I’ll be saying goodbye to many of my friends but welcoming new, warm memories that I am sure to make. When I attended the CTeen shabbaton for the first time I didn’t know what to expect, but came back with a new appreciation for my Jewish identity and for Shabbat–as well as new friendships with diverse and incredible people. To this day, Istill with the friends I have met each year from all over the world.
In all the years I’ve been a part of CTeen, last year Shabbaton was the most life changing. While each year everything was so well organized, with the increased flow of participants in the shabbaton from my first year to my last, CTeen had upgraded and outdone. Last year, I made an amount of memories that one would think was impossible to make in such a short time. Overall, there was one moment that stood out to me as a specific time in which I not only felt completely proud to be a Jew, but felt powerful, important, and part of a bigger picture. CTeen had roped out the middle of Times Square, on the red steps, where only CTeen members were allowed to be. Then, Alex Clare serenaded us with some of his songs, and we all were featured on the big screens. Hundreds of teens, including myself, were dancing and cheering and sharing an experience that we knew none of us could forget.
But there was one moment that meant the most to me: me and the four friends that I had just met, from around the world including Arizona, New York and Atlanta, were holding hands and watching the big screen as one of the Rabbis stood up to talk about the importance of Jewish pride. I looked at my new friends, all so different but at the same time so alike, sharing our pride and our identities with the rest of the world.
It that moment, I knew my life would change forever. I realized how beautiful our faith is, and how special it was for all of us to be together. We are all part of the bigger picture which G-d has created for us. At that moment, I felt like the whole idea of Ahavat Yisrael was one of the most important mitzvot that I had ever learnt–and now, experienced. I felt unstoppable. With this connection and friendships that I had made within my faith, I learned what it means to be a Jew in todays society. I felt so much pride when I declared, out loud with hundreds of other teens, my Jewish pride. After our ancestors and generations before-hand were suppressed, oppressed, and often hated, it felt amazing to be able to stand together with so many Jewish people and just express our love for Judaism and for each other. In a crowd of such spirit, I felt that it was impossible not to feel, deep down, an undeniable assurance for our nation’s existence forever.