The Shabbaton: A weekend to change the world

3 years ago Adina Ichilov 0

In honor of one month since the CTeen Shabbaton, we bring you this reflection by Rachel Arrouas from CTeen S. Maur, France.

We each have a unique journey in this world. We each have the power to change this world. “A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness,” said Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the first Chabad Rebbe). Have you ever had a bad day change because one single person smiled at you, giving you the impression that you could overcome anything and that everything was going to be fine? Because, after all, it is the little things in our lives that make the big ones happen. I have really become aware of the power we have in each of us since the first CTeen Shabbaton I attended two years ago, and it continues to be true after this one.  

There are were many incredible things that happened to us for just a few days over the Shabbaton weekend. We meet incredible people and strengthen the bond between the teens in our chapter. We learned that it is in fact totally normal to shout “Where are you from” and “Add me on Snapchat” to other CTeeners who are complete strangers we meet across the street. We gained the feeling of having found a family that will always be there when needed or a home away from home in the streets of Crown Heights. We discovered the true meaning of post-Shabbaton depression (PSD) and the bond that continues to connect all of us after the weekend. We also experienced what it is like to see your old friends, from the years before, while making new ones. 

Leading up to the weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about my favorite Shabbaton memories: my “Shabbaton-habits”, the “Shabbaton-food”, the “Shabbaton-atmosphere”. After each Shabbaton, I realize the uniqueness of each. But do not get it wrong: the Shabbaton does not just raise your amount of followers on Instagram, or give you a lot more people to do streaks on Snapchat with. It is so much more than that.

Every year on Saturday Night, we do Havdalah in Times Square. My favorite part of the whole Havdalah was when Rabbi Kotlarsky repeated “Shavuah Tov” dozens of times with over 3000 Jewish people from around the world reunited answering back. At Havdalah, I felt like Mashiah could come at this exact instant. It is the most intense and most perfect moment as we are united and strong.

Jews back in the 1940s would not have believed it. They would have said it is a miracle if they could have seen us. And actually it is a miracle. How can you explain this particular feeling of magic we all experienced during the weekend and which we experience only during the Shabbaton? The feeling that you are finally home, that you cannot be harmed, and a feeling that is going to last forever.

On Sunday, when the Banquet ended, and we find ourselves on the plane, this feeling may start to fade away and we come back to “reality”, to our everyday life. Of course, we return to our realities full of renewed energy and determination. The Shabbaton was a month ago already, and who could have thought we would be in quarantine, that schools would be canceled and that the virus would have done so much damage? How could the world be put upside-down by an invisible virus in so little time?

I was really curious and I wanted to find an answer. Then, it came to me: Hashem is trying to send us signs. He has given us the possibility to see how much we are capable of, how strong and happy we are when we are together. And now, it is like He was urging us, that it is the time to act; by learning Torah, doing Mitzvot, and improving ourselves to become better people. Just like we learned at the Shabbaton. 

Even if we are not united in New York, we can do big things from where we are. This Shabbaton’s incredible feeling should not be limited to the New York borders. We have to spread it around the world, everywhere, where we are, every single second (even at home). Because after all, that is our mission: to put back in place, not a jungle, but G-D’s beautiful garden: the world.