CTeen Shabbat Programs in honor of Terror Victims


Leigh Hershkovich
CTeen Upcoming Shabbat Program Dedicated to Those Affected by Terrora

With ongoing terror attacks in Israel and now France on everyone’s mind, CTeen chapters in the United States will join together with thousands of teens from around the globe to learn about overcoming differences and pray for peace in those two nations and worldwide.

This groundbreaking initiative will take part from Nov. 20-21 as part of the CTeen International “TGIS” (“Thank G‑d It’s Shabbat”), a weekend retreat arranged in honor of the Hakhel year that gives Jewish teens the opportunity to experience the spirit of Shabbat with other teens from nearby cities and towns. More than 155 chapters—from Melbourne, Australia; to Netanya, Israel; and Plano, Texas—will be participating in this year’s event, many of them attending the five regional Shabbatons taking place throughout the States.

Each group will spend a half-hour during the weekend focusing their attention on a piece of learning material pertinent to this week’s events, looking beyond each other’s differences and uniting together. With just days until the Shabbaton begins, every one of the 48 time slots for the 24-hour service has already been filled, making this weekend all the more impactful.

“Many teens outside of Israel and France have been worried and confused about how they can help the situation there,” said RabbiMoshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch—the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—and chairman of CTeen. “They think that because they’re across the world they can’t do anything to help, but they can. Praying and learning in the merit of the safety and well-being of the world is a great and powerful thing. It’s very impressive to see all of the chapters coming together to unite for this purpose.”

For the 45 French CTeen chapters involved this weekend, the message hits close to home.

“We’re very grateful that CTeeners from around the world have invested in a 24-hour learning program to pray for France,” saidSamuel Partouche, who lives in Paris near the Bataclan theater, which suffered the worst of the multiple terror attacks on Friday night. “Coming together, even if we may not all be together physically, to pray for peace is one of the most inspiring things we can do at a time like this.”

“I spent the summer in Israel a few years ago,” he continued. “I became even more connected to the land and to my roots. Knowing that there’s something I can do from far away makes a big difference. I think it’s really cool that we’re dedicating this learning program to world peace as well because at the end of the day, all of humanity is hurting from these terrorist attacks.”

Keeping Shabbat a Joy

Last year, more than 100 CTeen Chapters from across the United States participated; many of the teens who attended kept Shabbat for the first time. In honor of the Hakhelyear, CTeen organizers have doubled their efforts to encourage teens to join. A “TGIS” promo video was created starring teens from all over the world, explaining the concept and importance of Hakhel.”

Many of the teens are returning this weekend after now having kept Shabbat for an entire year. The success of the program is attributed to the joyful and wisdom-filled Shabbat experience that teens take home with them.

“Knowing that I was part of a worldwide CTeen Shabbat celebration really pushed me to keep Shabbat as best as I could,” said Emily Glazer from Cincinnati. “I thought that keeping Shabbat would be hard and a burden, but I really enjoyed it.

“Not being able to use electricity turned out to be a huge plus. I’m really looking forward to doing it again this year, and this time I’m dedicating it to all people around the world who have been affected by terror.”

CTeen is a Chabad-affiliated international club where Jewish teenagers learn about themselves and their heritage through giving to others and participating in interactive, hands-on activities. It’s open to all Jewish teens, regardless of affiliation.