My Shabbaton Experience

9 years ago Leighest 0

Hi, my name is Jordan Balaban from Colchester, CT. I live in a very non-Jewish area, and didn’t really know what Judaism was about or what it meant to be Jewish until I went on the CTeen Xtreme Summer Camp last year. I had the best time of my life and met many amazing people in such a short period of time. I heard about the shabbaton on my trip and that it was going to be epic… The people who told me were 100 % right. I was debating back and forth whether or not to go on the CTeen International Shabbaton, but I made the right choice by going. I expected it to be a good shabbaton and some fun, but I was completely wrong. Outside of my Bar Mitzvah weekend, it was the best shabbaton, and the best Shabbos of my life.


The shabbaton started Thursday night. As I arrived at the house and rang the doorbell, my summer camp friends and counselors opened the door singing “Shalom Aleichem”… After that, I knew I was going to have a great time. Friday started off great as I was privileged to be able to go to and daven Shacharis at 770 for the first time. The atmosphere and the amount of people in 770 gave me goose bumps as soon as I walked in. I was just about to put on my tefillin and I just happened to look to the right and saw my rabbi, Rabbi Wolvovsky’s father just starting to daven. I walked over there and talked to him for a good couple of minutes. I said to myself, “Can this shabbaton get any better?” The answer was yes.


After Shacharis and breakfast, my group (the CTeen Xtreme Summer Camp group), took the subway from Crown Heights to NYC Times Square to tour Manhattan. This was by far the craziest train I had ever been on. We sang and danced to Jewish songs as loud as we could for the entire train ride. Once we arrived in Manhattan, we didn’t stop with the singing and dancing. Touring Manhattan we all showed that we’re Jewish and we’re proud. For the first time in my life, I was able see one of my counselors put tefillin on a cop in a store in Manhattan. It’ll be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Before Shabbos, we continued to sing and dance our hearts out, but I was also able to spend some quality time with my friends from the summer camp trip and new people I met. Even though it doesn’t sound exciting, it was one of the highlights of the shabbaton. Here comes Shabbos….


I was blessed to be able to spend Shabbos with Yossi Rubashkin and his family. I couldn’t have dreamed of better hosts. Before Shabbos dinner, I was very fortunate to be able to learn the story of Purim with a local Yeshiva student. I learned a lot from him, enjoyed the session, and we are keeping in touch. The Shabbos dinner was held at Oholei Torah and it was out of this world. The chants: “WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW”, “SHABBAT SHALOM… HEY”, “I’M A JEW AND I’M PROUD”, and many more were screamed out loud by over 500 boys all across the world. After the dinner, all of the teens were privileged to hear a speech by the amazing Jewish singer/songwriter Alex Clare, which was truly wonderful. To end the night, there was a once-in-a-lifetime farbrengen by Rabbi Moshe Rappoport from Mequon, WI. It was very inspirational, and helped me grow even more in Judaism.


Shabbos day/Saturday was incredible! The day started off with Shabbos services at 770 with over 2,000 people in one minyan! I learned that in 770 don’t get up, don’t move your siddur, don’t move your feet or your arms because if you do, you lose your spot. After services, we headed back to the house for an amazing Shabbos Kiddush. I was not only privileged to spend it with my group, but also a big group from Manchester, United Kingdom, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We had an amazing lunch, and showed our Jewish pride at the house by singing and dancing to amazing Jewish songs.

After an uplifting Shabbos, we went out to party in the big city in Times Square, NYC. The party started on the way there on the subway. We screamed, shouted, and danced even louder this time. “SHALOM ALEICHEM”, “WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW” “WHEN I SAY C, YOU SAY TEEN; C – TEEN.” Everyone left the subway station without a voice, sweating, and full of joy. CTeen had a huge section of Times Square blocked off for us, and it was incredible! We were all over the screens of Times Square, and so was the Rebbe, and it great to hear his voice all over Time Square. Jewish songs were being played, so not only did we prove to ourselves that we are proud Jews, but we proved it to everybody in Times Square that Saturday night. After the crazy time in Times Square, all of CTeen went to a bowling alley in Times Square and partied it up even more there. It was so much fun and amazing to have a whole floor just for us, CTeen. Being on the screens in Times Square was one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced.


We started off Sunday in a great way. CTeen davened Shacharis at 770, and then headed over to the Rebbe’s Ohel. It was a very emotional and inspirational moment, but everyone in CTeen had a lot to thank him for. It was my second time there, but it was beyond remarkable. After we visited the Rebbe’s Ohel we went to Oholei Torah for the Farewell Banquet. I couldn’t believe that the shabbaton was practically over. It was very emotional, but still great as we got to hear great speeches from members and the elected CTeen leaders of the year.


Even though the shabbaton had come to a close, I realized that it really was the start of something new. I left the shabbaton with Jewish pride that I had never experienced before. I realized that wherever I go, it’s my job to show that I’m Jewish and I’m proud, and I’m going to do the best I can to inspire my fellow Jews, and to love them as myself.


Thank you CTeen for the best time of my life!