My CTeen Shabbaton Experience!
4 years ago Andegeko 0
Hey everyone! Tomer here. I want to share my thoughts about one of the best experiences of my life, the 2017 CTeen International Shabbaton. The excitement leading up to the Shabbaton every year is always incredible, but this one felt different. It was going to be the first year for me without some of my very good friends that graduated and I wanted to see what that would feel like. Would it be different? Would I still have fun? I was excited, but still nervous.
Thursday, the first day of the Shabbaton, was also my birthday. Attending the Shabbaton was the best birthday present I could have asked for. As soon as our chapter arrived in Crown Heights, emotions started running high as I ran into friends who I had not seen in a long time.
I had waited so long to finally see my CTeen friends again that I couldn’t hold in my excitement. When we got to Oholei Torah and got our sweatshirts, it finally sunk in that the Shabbaton was actually here after a year of waiting. It was everything I imagined it would be. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, my chapter went up on stage and sang happy birthday to me in front of hundreds of other CTeeners. It was overwhelming and exciting—hands down the best birthday I’ve ever had and one I’ll never forget.
One of the best parts of the Shabbaton was Shabbat. The incredible feeling of Jewish pride is one that I have never felt anywhere else. On Friday night, all the guys went to 770 to see the Chabad headquarters and where it all started. After that, we all crowded into the Rebbe’s room. It isn’t just a room, you feel the spirituality all around you. When you’re there, you understand that you are truly a part of something bigger than yourself. After 770 and the Rebbe’s room, we all climbed a lot of stairs to the top floor of Oholei Torah where we learned a little before the Kabbalat Shabbat. After this we had dinner, and the highlight of the night was listening to the incredible life story of our key-note speaker, Berel Solomon.
When Shabbat was coming to an end, it was time to race across the city to Times Square for our annual CTeen take over! This year’s singer was Eli Marcus and we all rocked Times Square to the tune of Jewish songs and there was no better feeling than seeing my picture on a big screen in Times Square. This coming together of Jewish teens for a big event like this is something that every Jewish teen deserves to experience. After this amazing event, all the guys went back to Oholei Torah to a party with really good food, and fun activities. I chose to go downstairs and join a basketball game. After this party at Oholei Torah, we ran into over 100 people at Sweet Expressions, the best ice cream shop in Crown Heights. It was unforgettable.
On Sunday morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed, ready for one last epic day of the Shabbaton, beginning with the Ohel. The Ohel is the resting place of the Rebbe, and the best place for someone to ask for blessings. Being at the Ohel is a time for everyone to put everything aside and take in the spirituality and Jewish history that’s there. Following the Ohel, we got on busses to the banquet, the finale of the Shabbaton. The banquet was crazy. Eli Marcus sang again, I got to go on stage as part of CTeen Connection, and Gad Elbaz came out of nowhere and performed.
When the banquet was over, everyone was sad. It was time to say bye. Giving everyone that last hug, knowing that it’s going to be a very long time until I see them again, and leaving that place knowing that there were people feeling sad and crying was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. This shows how CTeen changes your life. In CTeen, you don’t just meet people. You make friends that last you a lifetime. I hope that my Shabbaton experiences and stories can help get more teens in CTeen because once you’re in CTeen, you never want to leave.