My Fantastic Experience

9 years ago Leighest 0

The shabbaton was full of spiritual growth with Jewish Chabad teens across the world. I learned that Crown heights is about seventy-five percent Jewish. These large populations, densely heavy with Jews, gave a strong sense of community which a thousand teens were welcomed among many houses. Chabad emphasizes the importance of growth with each minor step, so each individual young Jewish adult can gradually grow in the direction of the Torah’s ways. The rabbis repeatedly advised to practice Judaism to strengthen our heritage; for guys was tefillin and for ladies it was lighting the Shabbat candles. The difference between Judaism and other religions is if a Jew doesn’t practice their religion they are still Jewish. Judaism is more than simply a religion. Although in Judaism there is always room for more growth — even rabbis can continue learning exponentially throughout a lifetime.

A significant and powerful moment during the shabbaton was when I was at Esther Horowitz’s mother’s house. Taking a break between courses, we decided to go around the Shabbos table and get each teen, regardless of their background to make an oath stating, “I will marry a Jew.” The importance of marrying a Jew to me is extremely important, as even if one isn’t so religious currently, when one find their bashert they can continue growing in the same direction — up the ladder, closer to Hashem. Each individual young neshama who stated this oath we would applaud in joy, and in the Horowitz house I felt pure joy while having the pleasure to witness these commitments. Sadly, the reality is that many Jews choose to intermarry and distance themselves from religion, and in Judaism the children were the ones who received the Torah. This means if both parents aren’t Jewish it’s unfair because the children aren’t getting the full foundation that Judaism has to offer. Women and men in Judaism hold different traditions in a household both; are equally as important for an upbringing of a child. Dating Jewish is just as important from what I learned; you don’t date someone unless you see a potential future.

Havdalah was amazing and honestly I feel Alex Clare is just another fellow Jew. I am not the type of girl to go fan meshugah. But the truth is the part that really highlighted in my book is when one thousand Chabad teens across the world sang, “I am a Jew and I am proud and I’ll sing it out loud and forever that is what I’ll be, oh yeah!” This song basically defines my upbringing of Chabad through Chabad of Plano Hebrew School. I was the loud obnoxious kid who would sing this song literally as loud as I can with the blood rushing to my face. This song was bringing back that same Jewish pride I had as a young child, that needed to be strengthened again. This song is universal, simple, and speaks to every Jewish teenager. Many teens at CTeen are public school kids who constantly feel disconnected from their friends at public school. For instance, “Sorry I can’t hang out with you because it’s Shabbos.” Then those same friends realize Shabbos is every week and start to give up hanging out with you because weekends are so limited in time. It’s who you hang out with on your weekends that you value the most, and mine is my Judaism and enjoying Shabbos with other Jews.

With the uplifting experience I still feel there is always room for improvement. Even Jews are improving to be better Jews, so critiquing can only help for the future. These kids have so much ruach and love for Judaism. We neglected to sing songs before Shabbos ended to say goodbye to Shabbos. We were so excited for after Shabbos when we should have lengthened Shabbos to its fullest. Chabad should teach the classic songs like, “Tov lahados l’Hashem” to CTeen. This song gives me the chills and there are many more songs. Also singing “Don’t walk behind me I may not follow, don’t walk behind me I may not lead.” This is always a good song to promote new friendships. With a growing number of teens it’s possible for someone to have a difficult time getting comfortable with a large amount of teens. It’s as many teenagers say, the dreaded first day of school going in the cafeteria and not knowing where to sit. Though in the long run I feel with a mixture of David Nesenoff’s message of, “Do Jewish don’t feel Jewish” and CTeen small baby steps, I am going to make a commitment to remember to light the Shabbat candles every Friday night and bring warmth and shalom bayis to my house.