CTeen members with Rabbi Chalom Loeub. (photo from Chabad of Richmond)
Did you know that Richmond Jewish teens have a group of their own? It’s CTeen, which stands for Chabad Teen Network. CTeen Richmond, a program sponsored and hosted by Chabad of Richmond, is led by Rabbi Chalom Loeub.
“CTeen is open to all Jewish teens, regardless of their religious affiliation,” said Loeub. The international program run by Chabad Lubavitch is aimed at teens in grades 8 to 11. CTeen Richmond is currently comprised of a small group of teens, but wants to expand its numbers.
This unique program includes Sunday night learning, volunteering and socializing. Participants volunteer by cooking and baking for the Light of Shabbat meals, which are delivered to elderly Jews and those who have trouble cooking for themselves. The CTeens also cook and bake for the Smile on Seniors program at Chabad of Richmond.
Six CTeen youth from Richmond recently attended a CTeen Shabbaton in New York. This Shabbaton gathered 2,000 teens from around the world. It included Friday night programs, where they learned about Jewish history, as well as how Judaism relates to science. They also learned a bit about the Tanya, ate great food, met lots of other teens, sang, danced and had lots of fun. One of the Richmond CTeens described it as “inspirational.”
Friday afternoon, the teens got to explore New York in groups. Saturday evening, with stringent security, the CTeens took over Times Square for two hours, where they held Havdalah, sang and danced, and listened to motivational speakers on topics like Torah and the importance of doing mitzvot. Richmond teen Daniel Davydova, who went with his brother Itay, took from this experience the message that “together, we are the future.” He described the experience as “enlightening.” After the talks, the teens toured New York on buses.
The highlight of the Shabbaton for most of the Richmond group was visiting the Ohel, the holy site of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s grave. The teens found it extremely spiritual, and got the chance to write letters asking G-d for blessings for themselves and others. It was here they also wrote their personal “resolutions,” and committed to carrying these out.
Dana Sander, a Richmond CTeen member, called the visit “amazing” and said she’d recommend the CTeen Shabbaton to everyone. Fellow member Aaron Benatar said he loved “connecting with other Jewish teens from around the world.” He said that “standing shoulder to shoulder as a group” was very powerful. He said it “rekindled his Jewish spirit, and made him feel even more committed to helping the Jewish community through doing mitzvahs.”
The Richmond CTeen program focuses on Torah study and the importance of helping others. Eyal Levy, who’s been part of the program for a few months, is very enthusiastic about it. “I love the cooking most of all,” he said. “We get to cook for seniors who need it. I also love the socializing and games. Plus, we get to talk to the rabbi about topics that interest us.”
According to Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad of Richmond, “CTeen harnesses the incredible potential of teenagers by offering awesome programs that bring teens together to give back to their communities. CTeen welcomes every Jew and creates a sense of belonging.” The CTeen Network views the teenage years as a time not just for partying and frivolity, he added, but as a time of purpose and self-discovery. The goal is to connect participants to anything and everything Jewish.
For more information, contact Loeub at 778-712-7703 or email [email protected].