Echoes of a Jewish Soul
6 years ago Leighest 0
By Shana Weisman
New Haven, CT
When two magnets turn their back on each other, it repels away from the other. However facing forward, there’s an automatic attraction between the two. Jews are like those magnets. If a Jew were to turn his back away from his fellow “magnets” it will miss out on a relationship that could have been. However, one who chooses to go toward Judaism will find an automatic unity pulling them closer to their essence. Like magnets we Jews come in all different colors and shapes, but what connects us is what’s found inside. A magnet is considered anything that contains iron, no matter what it looks like on its exterior and that makes the connection. Each Jew holds within them a Jewish soul that binds each and every one of us.
Now imagine this: 1300 magnets all pulling closer together. 1300 Jewish teens that chose on their own to make that connection with their fellow Jews; this is how the Cteen shabbaton of 2015 looked. One would think this of an unnecessary cluster of people, hardly fitting in one hall. However, everyone there knew that wasn’t the case at all. The more magnets or Jews who joined together built this indescribable strong energy and amongst all those other teens, I was able to feel the unity throughout the crowded hall.
Entering the lobby of Ohlei Torah, I could feel the heat rising in the air, hundreds of teens pushing past me, with the brush of their shoulder on mine to catch up with their friends. Voices filled the room of faces I didn’t recognize, people I don’t know; yet I still feel the urge to approach them and just get to know them.
As the holy day of Shabbat came in I felt a certain vibe, everything felt at ease. Now, I can’t go on and on about how CTeen inspired me to become religious and that’s for one reason; I already am religious. However, that doesn’t mean CTeen didn’t inspire me in other ways. Just the fact that so many different kinds of Jews from all over came together for this Chabad teen program and the unison amongst them brings out a spark from within me. It’s a hard feeling to describe, hearing all these inspiring messages from girls or boys who found themselves through CTeen, makes me think how much more so I should be the good Chabad Jew who I was raised to be. Meeting people who struggle through so much and still came on this program to find their light, sends chills down my spine and it gave me a new appreciation for who I am.
After meeting so many wonderful people, Shabbat soon came to an end but the light never went out. From Crown Heights Brooklyn, all 1300 teens and 200 advisors made our way into the overly crowded subway, to hear havdalah in Times Square. Bless those strangers in the subway, for putting up with all of us for those long overly packed 30 minutes. One by one we all shoved into the opened subway doors. Of course with all of us there, there was nowhere to sit so I grabbed on to the sweaty bar to keep my balance. There was a short second where I felt proud, proud to be a Jew. I’m not sure what it was exactly, maybe the fact that we all assembled in this crammed subway, wearing our CTeen sweaters. The genuine smiles shown on our faces, laughs echoing through the bumpy vehicle, and its times like this that we have to demonstrate to others who we Jews are. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think our outspoken unity sold it for those strangers. No one fussed or shoved, we were just genuinely happy to be a part of such an amazing program. Not even a heated, putrid subway with nowhere to move, was able to ruin the pleasure each one of us felt.
Havdalah in Times Square was something else. It’s only certain moments like these where I feel like I’m on top of the world. There were echoes of voices shouting for redemption, singing on the top of our lungs, dancing like there’s no one watching. In this moment, I got to witness the essence of 1500 Jews pouring their hearts out and emanating throughout the streets of the city. For a split second I glanced over at the crowd of 1500 Jews and I swear I was able to feel a sudden shift. I knew this is where I was meant to be and all the problems in the world didn’t matter anymore. Gad Elbaz performed, his voice was so pure and it was so special to see a Jewish singer perform in a public setting like this. CTeen was fortunate enough to rent out a giant Times Square screen which showed everything that was going on for the world to see. What really got to me was when they played a Rebbe video on the massive screen, as a chabad Jew I became very emotional, for my Rebbe was portrayed in such a way that gave me hope. As a lonely tear escaped my glowing eyes, I felt so content; there’s really no other word to describe it. The night flew by, but that feeling still remains in my heart, for that night, we Jews were the lights of the city.
The closing of the Shabbaton, surprisingly didn’t make me sad. I was too joyous to have been able to be a part of such an incredible weekend. As the doors of Ohlei Torah closed behind me, I felt complete, like I had just been a part of something that mattered. I went home at peace with how my weekend went. Not once did I ever feel uninterested or alone, there was constantly something to do, and a never ending list of new people to meet. The CTeen shabbaton had a warm, welcoming, non stressful mood set. Looking back at the weekend as a whole I think it’s safe to say this was one of the best experiences of my life.