Teens’ Resilience Celebrated at Grand Finale Event

Photos: Itzik Roitman

CTeen concluded its international Shabbaton that brought together 3,000 Jewish teens with an inspirational closing ceremony featuring a live concert by Nissim Black and powerful stories of growth and resilience from Jewish teens.

Photos: Itzik Roitman

CTeen concluded its 15th annual international Shabbaton this Sunday with an inspirational closing ceremony at the 5,000-seat Carnesecca arena in Queens. The event brought together Jewish teenagers from 30 countries around the world for a weekend of inspiration, unity, and fun.

Rabbi Avi Rapoport, of Chabad at the Shore and known as “the TikTok Rabbi,” served as the event’s host, which featured a lineup of speakers focusing on the Shabbaton’s theme of “Meant2B”, that everything happens for a reason.

Inspirational Teenager Rosie Grossbaum from Morristown, N.J., who has cystic fibrosis, touched the crowd with her steadfast faith and positive attitude. “When I was younger, I thought I would live forever,” said Grossbaum. “When I got older, I realized my condition was a lot more serious than I thought it was. Yet I wouldn’t want it any other way. This is how G-d made me. This is how G-d wants me to be. Everything that happens to us is G-d’s plan,” she said.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of CTeen International and Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, spoke to the attendees about the importance of Jewish unity and the power of the youth to make a difference in the world. He then launched a special CTeen Shabbaton OneMitzvah Campaign for participants to share their Shabbaton takeaway Mitzvah on their Chapter’s team page.

Afterward, Joey Edelson from New York’s Upper West Side spoke about finding G‑d after losing his mother just a few months ago. He recited a poem he wrote about the G-d supporting him through every twist and turn. 

Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, presented the CTeen Leaders of the year awards. Hannah Belinkiy was awarded CTeen Female Leader of the Year for her dedication to her local Chapter. She spoke of growing up in Deerfield, Illinois, with a small Jewish community and the pride she now has in her Jewish identity.

Moshe Rembaum from Panama was awarded CTeen Male Leader of the Year, and he emphasized that the award was for everyone gathered there and how each of them is a leader.

Next, Shoshana Mann of Portland, Oregon, shared the story of her creating “Teens Against Antisemitism” after the rise of anti-Jewish rhetoric on social media. “Whatever darkness we find ourselves in, it’s important to remind ourselves it is part of our journey, and G‑d is there to make sure you’re never alone.”

An emotional moment was when singer Berel Zucker led the teens in a powerful rendition of Ani Maamin, followed by Hasidic Black Rapper Nissim Black, who concluded the event with an incredible performance of his greatest hits and classic CTeen songs, as the teens joined in around the stage.

“I’m proud to be a Jew,” said Landon Katz, a 9th grader from Hunterdon County, NJ, “I never knew how fun it can be to be a Jew, and this event gave me that. I’m only a freshman, so I have three more Shabbaton years to join and I am excited!”

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