My CTeen Experience

9 years ago Leighest 0

By: Casey Lamar

6:00 PM on a Sunday. I walk into the Chabad House in Fairfax, VA,


already smelling the pasta and French fries cooking in the kitchen. After some


quick chatting, I take up my usual seat in the library and wait for Rabbi Adler


to start the class. He opens up with a story or two about theology, morality, or


Judaism in general, and then leaves the floor open to discussion. There are


some pretty heated arguments amongst the “CTeen-ers” about whatever topic


we were discussing. After about a half hour of this, we reconvene with a wrap-up,


and move on to dinner.


The pasta is a little soggy and the Diet Coke from Kiddush the day


before (obviously the only bottle left) is stale, but no one complains. Whether its


because nobody else is quite as particular when it comes to pasta consistency or


fizziness of soda as I am, or because everyone is shoveling food in their mouth


to get to the “Game Room” as fast as possible, I will never know (Although I’d


hazard to guess the latter). Or maybe, it’s because they’re just so appreciative


for everything that CTeen does for them that they don’t really care what the food


tastes like.


CTeen does a lot to everybody who comes, but something different to


every person. I’ve gone to day school my entire life, and am currently studying at


Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi in Jerusalem for the year before I go to Brandeis University


next fall. For me, CTeen was a place where I could conceptualize the greater


questions about Judaism. I already put on Tefillin every day, and I knew why,


but I didn’t know the seemingly more simple question of “Why be Jewish?” To


other people who didn’t have the privilege of a day school education, the weekly


meetings offered a small spark of Judaism in their lives. To another, it could have


just been the social aspect that attracted them.


Each person is equally validated in his or her reasons to come to CTeen,


and we, as the larger community, embrace that. The most important lesson that


I got from CTeen was that in any community, and Judaism in particular, there are


a number of different personalities, and instead of focusing on the differences


between us, we should focus on the similarities between us, and that which


makes us a community to form stronger, lasting relationships.