Northeast CTeen Leaders Meet Jewish Politicians in DC

Over 150 Jewish teens from throughout the Northeast United States gathered for an unforgettable weekend at the CTeen Regional Shabbaton held in Washington D.C.

Over 150 Jewish teens from throughout the Northeast United States gathered for an unforgettable weekend at the CTeen Regional Shabbaton held in Washington D.C.

Hosted by Rabbi Sender and Nechamie Geisinsky of Chabad of Bethesda, MD, the Shabbaton offered the teenagers the opportunity to network with other Jewish teen leaders from different communities and have a unique Shabbos experience. But that was not all; they were also given the rare opportunity to learn from government officials on Israel and combating antisemitism.

The trip included a visit to the White House and other memorials in D.C., but a truly memorable part was visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This visit was especially poignant for many of the teens who had family members impacted by the Holocaust. One of the most moving aspects of the trip was when the boys put on Tefillin and the girls recited Shema at the cattle car on display at the museum. Those moments in front of the cattle car, in which Jews were brutally taken to the concentration camps, gave the teens the opportunity to reflect on the fact that the Jewish people are still alive and well, and it is up to the next generation to continue their special heritage.

“Visiting the Holocaust Museum was a profound and emotional experience for our teens. Seeing what our people have endured and understanding the impact it had on our community gave our teens a newfound appreciation for their heritage and a sense of responsibility to continue our traditions. It was a powerful reminder that we must never forget the past and to channel that to a greater connection and commitment to their Judaism,” noted Rabbi Yosef Orenstein of CTeen Woodcliff Lake, NJ.

With the help of American Friends of Lubavitch, the teens were honored to hear from Aaron Keyak, the Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, and Eliav Benjamin, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Israeli Embassy to the US. The government officials shared the roles they play in representing the Jewish community and Israel on national and international stages. They also shared personal experiences, on how they both lead Shomer Shabbos and Kosher life in their government positions, as well as how to stand up and combat antisemitism. 

“Listening to officials speak about their roles and experiences combating antisemitism and advocating for Israel was truly inspiring. They taught us that being a Jewish leader means standing up for what is right and taking action to make a positive impact in the world,” said one teen from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. “This trip taught me that we, as Jewish teens, have the power to make a difference and create a better future for ourselves and our community.”

During Shabbos, the teens engaged in meaningful Shabbos meals, leadership workshops, and interactive games to learn and discover more about their peers. They were also encouraged to disconnect from their phones and connect with others on a personal level to strengthen their connections with one another and enhance their Shabbos experience. 

“The combination of learning, exploring, and celebrating their Judaism together creates a truly unique experience that leaves a lasting impact on the lives of the teens,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of CTeen International and Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch,  “We hope the knowledge and energy theyve received empowers them to be leaders and advocates for Yiddishkeit in their communities.

Overall, the Shabbaton was a powerful and transformative experience for all those who participated. Through meaningful discussions, visits to historical sites, and the celebration of Shabbat, the teens were able to deepen their Jewish pride and strengthen their commitment to Jewish leadership and advocacy. 

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