Throwback: Operation MItzvah
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By Miriam Gabai//CTeen of Conejo, California
Editor’s Note: Our awesome teen staff at CTeen Connection is working hard to create inspiring, meaningful, and uplifting content to help us stay connected during this new and challenging time. We’d like to thank all of the teens who submitted articles for the magazine and the blog. You can read the magazine by clicking here. Check back in for new and exciting content, coming soon!
On Feb. 21, 2019, 25 CTeeners of the Conejo Valley excitedly boarded the plane heading to New York City. The 2019 Shabbaton was an especially special Shabbaton for our chapter, CTeen Conejo, because we won Operation Mitzvah.
The CTeen International Shabbaton in New York City is an exciting weekend filled with new friends made at events like the massive Shabbat dinner Friday night and public demonstrations of Jewish pride, like Havdalah in Times Square Saturday night. On Sunday, the Shabbaton culminates in a banquet where CTeeners present on the theme of the Shabbaton and winners are announced for Best Male Leader, Best Female Leader, and Operation Mitzvah.
The objective of Operation Mitzvah is to create a project that encourages community members to partake in one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s 10 Core Mitzvot. Our winning project called “6thirteen” was an Instagram account that promoted daily Torah learning.
“We wanted to find a way that we could reach a lot of people in a way that was really easy access for the user and social media seemed to be pretty [perfect] for that” said Mushka Friedman, rebbetzin of CTeen Conejo when asked about the brainstorming process of the project.
The account is structured with different themed posts for each day of the week. The lineup included Story Sunday, Mitzvah Monday, Teen Tuesday, Wisdom Wednesday and Tefillah Thursday.
Tuesday posts, definitely a follower favorite, featured a different CTeener each week who discussed a personal connection with Judaism.
“I was lucky enough to be able to write about something I felt so close to” wrote Maya Abezis, 16, on her contribution to 6thirteen. “This page really helped me connect to the Torah and all of the greatness that comes with it”
Followers of the account found that it achieved its purpose of promoting the Mitzvah of learning Torah daily. Anonymous users commented that “ [6thirteen] helped me take a moment to learn Torah when I normally wouldn’t” and that “6thirteen reminds me to think positively and do an extra mitzvah”.
Leading up to the Shabbaton a few dedicated leaders ran the account, either creating content or curating posts from teens in the community.True to the Rebbe’s goal, our chapter used tools in the world today to make the world a little brighter.
“I think it’s incredible when teens can harness the power of social media to spread G-dliness in the world and that’s ultimately why all this was created, to make the world a little holier” commented Rabbi Sapo, executive director and lead chaperone of CTeen Conejo. “I could not have been prouder of the group for what they did”
During the Shabbaton, all Conejo members in New York became a crucial part of the campaign, passing out stickers that said “Vote for Conejo” in English, Hebrew, French and Spanish. At the end of the day, votes determined the winner.
“I was really thankful for the opportunity to learn how to interact with people from around the world and effective strategies for campaigning” commented Coby Barnett, 16, of his experiences talking to other teens at the Shabbaton about the project.
The teens representing the Conejo chapter could not have been more ecstatic when they won.
“Watching CTeen [of Conejo] grow so quick from its inception five years ago to winning the award was a very powerful and humbling experience” commented Rabbi Sapo.
“The moment it was announced that we won was a true bonding moment for our chapter as we realized what we had done together,” said Sara Lewis, 16, on Conejo’s victory.