“To stay or to go?” was the question that puzzled organizers of the International CTeen Shabbaton ever since the conclusion of last year’s Shabbaton.
Rapidly expanding, CTeen International now numbers at 256 chapters worldwide. The exponential growth, coupled with the quality and variety of programming these shluchim are offering their local teens has led CTeen to estimate that 2,000 teens will participate in the Shabbaton this year, b’ezras Hashem. With the ever-increasing challenge of finding enough places for the teens to stay, CTeen seriously contemplated relocating the Shabbaton elsewhere.
“This was a decision we were weighing for quite some time,” discloses Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice-chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and chairman of CTeen. During the CTeen Kinus in Tammuz, Rabbi Kotlarsky invited shluchim to weigh in on the pros and cons of the matter.
Reflections of teens, such as Samantha Rosenthal from Dallas, Texas, helped tip the scale in favor of keeping the Shabbaton in Crown Heights. “My time in Crown Heights taught me many valuable life lessons,” she wrote in an essay on the CTeen Connection blog for teens. “The true feeling of belonging I experienced in my short time there assured me that if I ever find myself lost throughout my life, I will always have a home that will take me in and show me the way, even if it is halfway across the country.”
With the decision to stay in the Rebbe’s shechuna, CTeen shluchim are grateful to know that they can count on local Anash to join in their efforts to provide an unprecedented Shabbos experience to thousands of teens. Indeed, the generosity and hospitality of hundreds of Crown Heights residents who opened their homes and hearts to the teens over the last number of years is unparalleled.
“Last year, it seemed like every house in Crown Heights was hosting CTeen,” Rabbi Michoel Goldin, a member of the CTeen vaad related. “If we find enough houses to host the 800 additional teens we’re expecting, we will have solved the housing crisis,” he quips.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky echoes the Vaad’s sentiments. “The influence of the warm and caring chassidishe atmosphere that the hosts offer can’t be obtained anywhere else,” he says.
The International CTeen Shabbaton is scheduled to take place on 17-19 Adar 1 (February 26-28).