4 weeks ago Shai Fichtelberg 0
Allan Feldman// CTeen Palo Alto, CA
The new year has kicked off for CTeen chapters around the world, and what better time to start than on Rosh Hashanah? Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, chapters have found sweet ways to connect with their peers and celebrate the new year, even if it’s virtual or six feet apart. Here’s how different CTeen Leaders are keeping their chapters’ spirits alive.
We start our journey on the East Coast, home to CTeen Ridgefield, Connecticut who hosted an outdoor apple picking event. To ensure safety and prioritize social distancing, the chapter limited attendance to eight teens on a first-come, first-served basis.
“It was a great time,” Ben Wiener said. “Apple picking is like a fall tradition. We live in a pretty rural area, so basically there are farms 20 minutes away from my house.”
After picking apples, they had a lesson on Rosh Hashanah at their Chabad and heard the customary blast of the shofar — a first experience for many in their chapter.
Moving down south now, CTeen Potomac, Maryland also chose to have their kickoff in-person, where their 15 members decorated apples using individual supply bags.
On the West coast, CTeen Las Vegas had a heartfelt farewell party for one of their members who was leaving to the US Marine Corps. Call it a surprise party if you will.
“He was really happy,” Idan Malka said. “We had a barbecue; we had a Kahoot, which had personal questions and inside jokes; we played basketball. It was a really chill event, and at the end we all wished him goodbye.”
Meanwhile, chapters who held their kickoffs virtually over Zoom, including Basking Ridge, New Jersey and North Fulton, Georgia, sent supply bags to members’ homes. Some activities included baking challah, making honey cake pops, and playing Minute to Win It. CTeen Manchester, UK also made the best of their heavy lockdown via Zoom, forming unbreakable bonds between friends over making honey cookies.
However much chapters are able to adapt to Zoom, it’s still difficult to ignore the obstacles posed by virtual events. Like many chapters, CTeen Basking Ridge hopes to return to in-person events as soon as they can.
“COVID-19 has made it hard to socialize and hang out during these events,” Eliana Marcus said. “For Sukkot, we are making pizza at home and hope to do a drive-by event, so we can all eat in.”
In fact, even in-person events are becoming more difficult to plan, as chapters must make games and activities COVID-friendly. On top of that, CTeen Leaders, who are often responsible for building an inclusive environment during events, must face the challenge of being unable to identify who’s being left out when everyone is socially distancing.
But for CTeen leader Leora Gadd from Naperville, Illinois, the best thing to do is “just to stay positive.” Her chapter, who had to hold online events at the end of last year, made their return to the outdoors this year with a barbeque kickoff, while playing backyard games.
Among a variety of other in-person kickoffs, tie-dye events made a large appearance this year, making a feature in CTeen chapters Skokie, Illinois; Manhattan Beach, California; and more. Looks like chapters have had a lot of fun so far and the year’s just kicking off!