Part of the Family

5 years ago Archive 0

Jenny Butler

When is the last time you stepped out of your synthetic leather comfort shoes and jumped into the oblivion of the Unknown? It’s less appealing than it sounds—I can tell you that with confidence. As of February 25th of 2016, however, I’m able to honestly reassure you that I have experienced that exact feeling. The anxiety-induced adrenaline coursing through your veins, squeezing your lungs and convincing your heart to practically beat right out of your chest. Of course. With so much swirling around under my trembling skin, my eyes gave away nothing while my lips wore a genuine smile. They weren’t lying, though. I mean, how could you not smile when you are on your way to the CTeen 2016 Shabbaton??

I was not raised in a religious household, aside from the occasional “Masul Tofe!” my mother would unnecessarily mispronounce while holding up her dinner glass. Chanukah was a Jewish Christmas, Passover was some story about a green mist killing a bunch of babies. And thus, I would live on while my arrogant naivete unnoticingly choked me until I nearly suffocated. So when all things Jewy started in succession around me (my birthing of two Jewish clubs at my local high school, organizing two Holocaust survivor seminars for my student peers and the community, attending JLI classes weekly, and experiencing Shabbat every Friday at Rabbi Barash’s dinner table), I couldn’t help but get sucked into the Jewish community. It was sort of a surprise adoption, if you will. It was ushered along by my older brother Jasen, who had lived in Israel for a year and couldn’t stop raving about the religion and culture. I saw how beautifully a new ideology or perspective can sculpt one’s view of the world. In simple terms, it was art. So when I was offered the chance to travel to New York as a proud bearer of the Jewish title, I jumped at it.

Fast forward through the airport security and flight, past the nauseating taxi trip and the wonderfully comfortable bed in which my fatigue seeked refuge, right up to that Saturday. Now, imagine your teenage self exploring the streets of Manhattan with fellow Jews, meeting new people super-charged with the excitement of what CTeen has planned for that afternoon. Maneuvering through subway cars that are flooded with CTeens from 25 different countries, all chanting prayers and songs in their native tongue. Place yourself amongst over 2k teens huddled together in Times Square, dancing and swaying to the music of the 2016 CTeen private party. Screaming, jumping, laughing, until the clock read 2am. That was me; I was there. I was the girl in the green beanie crying as she ripped up her prayer as an offering at the Rebbe’s grave. Every experience lent itself to a memory, and every memory makes me smile and laugh with reminiscence. CTeen Shabbaton was a weekend of a lifetime, and it’s the reason I am able to be a part of the family of CTeen bloggers who spend their time verbalizing their thoughts for us to appreciate and understand. I am definitely going to attend the 2017 Shabbaton, and you can bet that it’ll be just as life changing as this year’s. So hello, dear reader, my name is Jenny, and I am proud to be a part of the CTeen family!