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Blast from the Past - Outtakes from the 2023 CTeen INTL Shabbaton

By Emily Schenkel // CTeen Charlotte

Editor’s Note: Soon after arriving home from the 2023 CTeen INTL Shabbaton, staff writer Emily Schenkel sat down to record the life-changing weekend she had just experienced. Whether you’re a seasoned CTeener or are eagerly awaiting your first Shabbaton, consider this article your virtual hype squad to get you into the spirit of the weekend.

Above: Emily taking a selfie with one of her friends from CTeen Connections

This past February was my first time heading to NYC for the annual CTeen Shabbaton. This was the most unreal and amazing long weekend I have ever experienced. The second our plane landed in Laguardia the adventure began as we met many people from across the world congregating in the airport on their way to Crown Heights. That night continued with a fun-filled ride to Crown Heights in a party bus and then right to Ohlei Torah for dinner and registration. The amount of people I met within that short hour of time is unbelievable. Then we headed to 770, the heart of it all, and with all of the dancing and singing it could never get old. Then I had the best sleep of my life back at our hosts’ home. 

Moving on to Friday, we had a quick breakfast in preparation for an exciting day of city touring. We got to venture around the World Observatory and even have lunch in one of the luxurious Trump Buildings. Going up all 104 floors of the Observatory was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and the view was beyond beautiful. Later, we got to explore all of the different shops and see some of our friends while exploring our home away from home; Crown Heights. We then went back to our hosts’ house to get ready for Shabbos and candle lighting. From there, we “Sha Sha Sha Shabbat Shalom” -ed our way to Shabbat dinner and an evening of connection. This was an incredible day as I got to spend so much time in new places with new people. 

On Saturday, I ventured to the CTeen INTL Leader’s Breakfast and got the opportunity to hear different people speak about their CTeen journeys. Then, it began to snow. These five snow-filled minutes were so magical for me. Afterward, I walked back to meet everyone for the Shabbat programming with a group of friends and met even more new people. I spent my time before the Shabbat meal playing board games, getting to know CTeeners I had just met, and forming deeper connections with those I already knew. Then it was a nice walk back to our hosts’ house for lunch. During the meal, I got to know everyone in the Charlotte and Raleigh groups much better while eating amazing food and discussing the highlights of our weekend so far. Then we went to Ohlei Torah for a snack and bonding games before Havdalah. 

Once Shabbat ended we changed and ran to the Subway for the busiest night ever; the Times Square Concert. It’s what everyone was waiting for as we were all decked out in orange and blue. We had havdalah and then listened and danced to Benny Friedman. It was so busy, so bright, and so loud, making it the most fun night ever. From there on we headed back to Crown Heights for dinner and got to see and interact with a wonderful illusionist. The night felt like it would never end and was beyond surreal. 

Waking up Sunday morning was so difficult, knowing it was the last day of my incredible CTeen Shabbaton experience. We got ready super quickly in preparation for visiting the Jewish Children's Museum, where we got to learn more about the Rebbe and why we chose to go to the Rebbe's grave. Afterward, we headed to St John's University for our closing ceremony featuring lunch, a Nissim Black performance, Leader of the Year awards, and, of course, a ton of dancing and screaming. The music has never been louder and this was the absolute best way to close out the weekend. We topped off our trip with a visit to the Rebbe's grave. In a deeply spiritual moment, we ripped and dropped our notes at the Ohel after being educated about the Rebbe’s impact and mission. It

was such a meaningful way to end our Shabbaton experience. 

This entire weekend was one of the most amazing weekends I have ever experienced! I am so thankful I was able to go and experience it all.


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