9 years ago Leighest 0

This shabbaton was the first time I have ever done anything with Chabad but it has definitely made me want to do more – the only way I can possibly describe my experience was surreal and absolutely amazing. Coming from Manchester, it was a long airplane journey but it was so worth it. To be honest, before I went I already had formed an idea in my head that this trip would be very religious, similar to other organisations that had taken my school year on a shabbaton.

However, New York completely exceeded my expectations; people were so accepting, no matter how religious you were or how much you followed the religion and belief, and everyone listened to your opinions and ideas. No one judged you and everyone on the trip made an effort to speak to whoever they saw, although it still amazes me how many people went from so many places. I think the most obvious highlight of this trip was Saturday night in Times Square – listening to Havdalah and being able to sing and dance with so many teenagers was inspiring and just insane. That was one of the best nights I have ever had, and the fact that I got to share it with so many people made it even better.


Another major part for me was that I got to bond with so many people I would never have met or spoken to. Personally, I felt like I bonded with the group I arrived with and our chaperones, especially since it was made up of people who are not in my year and who I would never have even thought I could have had anything to speak to about, and who I now call my friends, as well as becoming closer with the people I already knew. I was also able to meet so many Jews from all over the world, many whom I want to keep in touch with and see again – hopefully at CTeen New York Shabbaton 2015!


Being able to discuss and debate topics of Judaism with other teenagers and rabbis broadened my knowledge and made me realize that there is so much more to the Jewish faith – I go to a Jewish school, yet I don’t think I have ever had anyone explain answers to my questions so clearly, or had a conversation with someone who listens to what I have to say and appreciates people’s inputs.

Then we were stuck in Philadelphia for an extra day, and were able to help another girl who missed her flight also due to the bad weather. As a group we decided that missing our connecting flight was in order for us to help her, and it also made me realize that no matter where I am or what situation I am in, I should always feel like I can ring Chabad and ask for help – the hospitality of the people there was incredible and I could not thank them enough. As a bonus I was able to have more time to get some more sweets (‘candy’;) and stay with my group even longer!

I am unable to think of only one highlight since the whole time from Thursday through to Tuesday, when we finally arrived home, was on a completely different level to anything else I have ever done before, and I wish we could have stayed for longer. I have taken away from this trip so much – people who I am so happy to have met, and a closer tie to my Jewish faith – never beforehand did I think that it was possible to enjoy Havdalah until Saturday night, and I am so glad I took part in this weekend. I am certain that I will be coming next year, I just wish it would hurry up – even with the jet lag and the flight length, the shabbaton was indescribable and completely outshined anything and everything; it was so good that you could only understand if you went.

-Yasmine Cooper (Manchester, UK)