Over 150 Jewish teenagers gathered at the Chabad Neshama Center in Brighton Beach for the grand opening of its highly anticipated CTeen Lounge, one of the 36 new facilities designed as a welcoming and positive space geared for Jewish teen communities around the world.
The CTeen Lounge opening took place at the annual Neshama CTeen Gala and marked a significant milestone for the Chabad Neshama Center as it continued into the 4th decade of serving teenagers in the area. “Chabad Neshama has always been the go-to spot for teens, but now that we will have our own space dedicated solely to our program, CTeen will draw hundreds more,” said Rabbi Mendel Winner, co-director of Neshama CTeen.
Combining Jewish pride, community engagement, leadership development, and kindness initiatives, Neshama CTeen provides teens with meaningful experiences to empower the next generation of Jewish leaders. “Having a home for our teen is a game changer which will give them a greater sense of belonging to the Jewish community and where they can come together to learn, grow, and have fun in a safe and welcoming environment,” said Rabbi Moshe Winner, director of Chabad Neshama. Reaching hundreds of teens annually, Neshama CTeen offers programming for Jewish holidays, Torah classes, and engages in various humanitarian efforts such as supporting the homeless, children with disabilities, and hospitalized kids. CTeen also organizes various social activities and promotes mental and physical health awareness amongst teens.
With over 150 teens and parents in attendance, the gala dinner and award ceremony recognized the outstanding community service hours contributed by the dedicated CTeen members as well as donors who had made the CTeen Lounge possible. Speakers at the event included Rabbi Zushe Winner, founder of Chabad Neshama, Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, community leaders, and proud parents.
The proud donors, CTeen leaders, and directors gathered for the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was followed by all participants getting a chance to tour the new lounge.
Excitement was high amongst the teens as they checked out their new space.
“This is so much more than just an addition to our community. As a Jewish teen, the world can sometimes be cold and sometimes scary. In times like these, I’m so happy to have our teen community and a welcoming place where I’ll be accepted and be able to be myself. I already feel a positive energy here,” said one participating teen.
The state-of-the-art lounge is one of 36 being constructed around the world as committed to at least year’s Kinus Hashluchim. The lounges will serve as hubs for Jewish teens at CTeen chapters around the world. Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of CTeen International and driving force behind the incredible initiative, shared the vision, “Within the CTeen lounges, Jewish teens find their tribe, their purpose, and their voice, embarking on a transformative journey as ambassadors of their Jewish heritage. With this resource, the sky’s the limit for what is possible at CTeen Brighton Beach and around the world.”