12/3/13 Philadelphia, PA
By Mara Tazartus
Family, friends and food; these essential traditions create a joyful Hanukkah celebration. When thinking about the holidays, reconnecting with old friends immediately resonates, but what about meeting new friends? In what will hopefully become a new tradition, this year CTeens (including me) from different states celebrated Hanukkah together at a Hanukkah party. The event focused on creating new bonds and friendships within the Jewish community. This exciting new type of Hanukkah celebration was made possible by the leadership of the CTeen groups operating in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
CTeen is a program that brings young Jewish teens together to explore their religion and identity with a mix of educational, humanitarian and social activities. Social events coordinated through CTeen bring together Jewish teens that may never have otherwise met to celebrate their Jewish roots with fun and laughter.
Our CTeen Hanukkah party at Bnei Abraham synagogue in Pennsylvania was a complete success! To begin the celebration, we all shared a delicious Chinese dinner while getting to know each other better. Teens from many different backgrounds and schools, even the Valley Forge Military Academy, were in attendance, so there were plenty of new people to meet. To start off the event we all played an icebreaker game that involved meeting people from a variety of places and grades, finding out their name, taking a picture with them, and then uploading that picture onto Facebook. This activity got us all out of our comfort zones to start making new friends, and there are many pictures to prove it! The game also rewarded great prizes to two lucky winners at the end of the night.
After the icebreaker game, we had a candle lighting ceremony, followed by watching and participating in a hilarious hypnotist show. Audience participation was encouraged, and there was no shortage of volunteers. Participants in the show were hypnotized to believe their favorite celebrity was in the room, among other hysterical circumstances. Heather from CTeen in Wilmington summed it up nicely saying, “The laughter never stopped!”
During Hanukkah, a time of festivity and joy, making new friends fits perfectly with the holiday spirit. We had a great time getting to meet new friends this Hanukkah through CTeen, so why not make it a tradition? There are many community Hanukkah events at different synagogues and community centers open to everyone. Next holiday, why not go out and share the holiday with new people? Hopefully, together, we can all add making new friends to the list of Hanukkah traditions.