Dazzling Times Square Screamed “Am Yisroel Chai”

Photos: Rivkah Laber, Mendi Dahan, Mendel Grossbaum

In the heart of New York City, amidst the dazzling lights of Times Square, a powerful expression of Jewish pride and solidarity unfolded last night. The testament of “Am Yisroel Chai” was broadcast live to over 100,000 viewers.

In the heart of New York City, amidst the dazzling lights of Times Square, a powerful expression of Jewish pride and solidarity unfolded last night. The “Times Square Takeover,” a highlight of Chabad’s annual CTeen International Shabbaton, took on new significance this year as representatives from the largest network of Jewish teens, including 200 from Israel, gathered to pray for the hostages and peace in the holy land.

With Israel at the forefront of their thoughts, Times Square pulsated with the rhythms of dance, song, and prayer, echoing the fervent hopes for the safe return of hostages held in distant lands.

“For fifteen consecutive CTeen Shabbatons, we’ve echoed the same resounding three words. Tonight, their significance resonates more deeply than ever: AM YISROEL CHAI,” declared Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, his voice resounding through the CTeen branded streets of Times Square. These words, a testament to Jewish resilience, echoed not only through the streets but also within the hearts of all present, both physically and virtually.

Broadcasted live to an audience exceeding 100,000 viewers, the event featured uplifting performances by the renowned American-Israeli pop star, Gad Elbaz and Italian-Jewish singer Yossi Rodal. A poignant moment emerged as Daniel and Neriya Sharabi, brothers, survivors of the Nova Festival massacre and who fought off terrorists on Oct 7th for five hours, led a prayer for peace and the safe return of the hostages

Reflecting on the experience, Moshe Italy, 21, from Maslul, Israel, who joined the weekend together with 200 fellow Israeli teens, shared his impressions with CTeen Connection Senior Editor Alfie Joseph: “The Times Square Takeover was incredibly impactful. The melodies, the collective prayers for the hostages—it felt as though the heavens themselves were moved by our actions. Since October 7th, the youth in Israel have matured beyond their years. Despite being labeled as the ‘TikTok generation,’ their strength is undeniable. They are the future leaders of our nation.”

Harry, 17, also from Maslul, Israel, echoed similar sentiments: “Times Square was an awe-inspiring display of Jewish unity and strength. Before October 7th, we were carefree, but adversity has united us in ways we never imagined. Our resilience shines through, demonstrating to the world that the Jewish spirit cannot be broken. Despite our losses, we proclaim: Am Yisrael Chai & Am Yisrael Chazak!”

Aligned with the theme “Count On Me,” the concert showcased videos highlighting teen leaders who have spearheaded initiatives to support those affected by recent events in Israel. Giant tzedaka boxes circulated among the vast crowd, enabling direct contributions to affected communities.

As Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302 and Vice-Chairman of CTeen International, concluded the event, he emphasized the power inherent in each individual to effect positive change: “Our resilience, our spirit, our deeds—these are the true catalysts for change. Let us return to our communities, ready to lead and demonstrate to our brethren in Israel that they can indeed count on us.”

Photos: Rivkah Laber, Mendi Dahan, Mendel Grossbaum

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