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CTeen Shabbaton to focus on leaders who combat hate with positive action

“We are seeing teens respond to these trying times by taking on real leadership roles,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky.

A CTeen member gets items together to send to displaced families in Israel due to events related to the war with Hamas since Oct. 7, 2023,, as part of a local U.S. initiative. Credit: Merkos 302.
A CTeen member gets items together to send to displaced families in Israel due to events related to the war with Hamas since Oct. 7, 2023,, as part of a local U.S. initiative. Credit: Merkos 302.

Anticipation is building as Jewish teens worldwide prepare for the annual CTeen Shabbaton in New York City this weekend, drawing an international crowd of 3,000 attendees. The theme “Count on Me” will provide an opportunity for teens to hear firsthand stories of peers who stepped up, took the initiative and grappled with an array of issues in their hometowns in recent times.

Throughout the past year, CTeen members from around the globe have confronted a series of challenges, from the Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel to an influx of antisemitism in schools and online. Instead of succumbing to fear or despair, those involved with the teen group, which is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, have continued their mission of empowering other young Jews.

“CTeen aims to cultivate young leaders who are both passionate about their heritage and willingly able to share its beauty with their fellow teens,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302. “We are seeing teens develop confidence in their Jewish identity and respond to these trying times by taking on real leadership roles.”

The weekend will feature participants sharing their journeys at the Shabbat Teen Talks, workshops, award ceremonies and concerts. Among them is Rachel Arrous, a CTeen leader from France who single-handedly launched CTeen chapters across her country.

Similarly, Sam Sheyman—a CTeen leader from Tri-Valley, Calif.—has been wearing a kippah with pride, refusing to hide his Jewish identity even in front of a large audience on the college basketball court. He plans to share that message with thousands of others who are planning to attend this weekend’s activities from countries around the world.

Contributing to this bolstering of Jewish pride and action among the younger generation are the 20 CTeen lounges built this past year, with 10 more scheduled to open in the coming months. These state-of-the-art meet-up spaces for Jewish teens have served as an incubator for these powerful initiatives, enabling them to collaborate and find creative ways to share their passion with others.

The Shabbaton closing ceremony will include the highly anticipated CTeen Choice Awards, recognizing young Jewish leaders from around the world. Among the nominees is Oliver William, a 17-year-old Jewish senior at Miami Beach Senior High. His refusal to let fear dictate his actions in the face of rising antisemitism, coupled with his leadership in celebrating Chanukah in his community, has earned him a nomination for this coveted award.

The closing event will be broadcast live at: Chabad.org/countonme.

Visit cteenawards.com to hear from this year’s CTeen Choice Awards Nominees.

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CTeen’s mission is to provide a nurturing environment fusing fun, friendship, humanitarian outreach, mitzvah observance and engaging Torah study among Jewish youth. Inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the group empowers teens to actualize their infinite potential while cultivating a strong sense of mission, Jewish pride and love of God.
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