Inspiration, and high energy were tangible in Texas this past Shabbos, as over thirty teens gathered together for the first ever CTeen Texas Regional Shabbaton. Teens from three cities participated in what was anticipated to be one of the best Shabbatons they had ever been to.
The Shabbaton kicked off at Chabad of Dallas on Friday with a teen meet and greet that included a t-shirt airbrushing station, food, music, and games. The ice broke quickly as the teens’ acquainted themselves with each other, and as Shabbat began, you could already feel the energetic buzz in the air.
As the girls brought in Shabbat by lighting candles with the Rebbetzins, the boys headed to shul at Chabad of Dallas for Friday night prayers. The energy was palpable. Between the beautiful singing of the girls in front of their Shabbat candles, and the boy’s focusing intently on their Shabbat davening, the tone was set for a beautiful Shabbat experience.
The highlight of Shabbat, hands down, was a late night farbrengen with Rabbi Dubrawsky, shliach in Dallas. As Rabbi Yudi Horowitz, shliach of Plano, Texas explained, “it left the teens absolutely spellbound. They walked away inspired and transformed. More than a few teens came over to me and told me that it was the most meaningful talk they had ever heard.” Rabbi Dubrawsky touched upon the questions like: “Who am I?” and “What makes me, me?”
“It was one of the most intense and engaging moments of my life,” said Ephie Wiedermann, teen leader of CTeen of North Texas. “During the talk, I had a complete brain shift. When Rabbi Dubrawsky asked us to truly think about the answer to the question of who we are, my mind shifted completely. It was mind blowing. The way he asked the question changed my perspective on so many things.”
Following the farbrengen, the teens stayed together, talking and connecting, until the early hours of the morning. “We had all just met,” A few of the teens relayed, “yet we were all able to connect with each other so easily. It felt like we were family.”
On Shabbat afternoon, the teens were treated to yet another wonderful talk by Josh Hochschuler, owner and CEO of Talenti Gelato. As a shomer Shabbat business owner and entrepreneur, and the owner of one of the leading gelato companies in the country, he spoke to the teens about the challenge and importance of maintaining his Judaism while working in the corporate world. “What I found enlightening about this talk,” said Risa Mond, the President of CTeen North Texas, “was that he really believed in what he was doing. By starting to keep Shabbat, he was potentially sacrificing many business opportunities. However, people understood and respected him, which made his success that much greater. It just goes to show that making Judaism a number one priority does not take away from leading a successful life in the secular world.”
Shabbat ended with a bang, as the teens gathered together for the havdalah ceremony at the Shops at Willow Bend, a local shopping area. Together, they sang and danced in the street, catching the attention of many locals who stopped to watch the teens’ excitement and happiness. On Motzie Shabbat, teens were treated to bowling and laser tag, followed by Chinese food and a grand raffle at Chabad of Plano. Teens took on mitzvot such as lighting Shabbat candles, or donning tefillin every day, for the chance to win an all expenses paid trip to this year’s international Shabbaton in New York.
Teen leaders from all three Texas chapters were excited and proud to see how their hard work paid off to make a wonderful Shabbaton. “We experienced what it really takes to make a Shabbaton a success. We worked around the clock with the Rabbis, Rebbetzins, and CTeen headquarters, doing everything from sleeping arrangements to program guides.”
As Risa Mond explains: “It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I really got to see how every person can make a difference. The weekend went superbly. Everyone enjoyed themselves throughout. There was learning, laughing, and new friendships made. We are all anxiously waiting for the international Shabbaton where we could once again reconnect with the friends we made during this inspiring weekend.”
On Sunday, at a bittersweet farewell breakfast at Chabad of Texas, the teens all had one thing on their minds: reuniting. As they said goodbye and went their separate ways, their final goodbyes were all the same: “See y’all in NYC… unless Moshiach comes first!”