Our 26 local teens joined close to 1,000 Jewish teens from around the world, as we lit up the city that never sleeps for 3 days jam-packed with activities, learning and an immersive Shabbat experience that was beyond amazing.
Though the temperatures in NY were freezing, one could practically feel the warmth coming from these teenage 'neshamas' as they discussed, danced, sang (and ate) their way through the weekend practically bursting with Jewish pride.
Click Here to see pictures. And, Click Here for a short youtube of the teens singing, dancing and hearing havdalah in Times Square. (Be sure to Check out how the 10 jumbo screens in the American Eagle building continually broadcast "mitzvah messages" :)
Friday morning, after a hearty kosher breakfast we took the subway to the city and split into different tracks, based on the teens’ interests.
One group took the ferry to Statue of Liberty and then had a tour of the World Trade Center site and 9-11 Memorial Museum.
A lucky few got the most unique experience of riding and ‘working’ in a real live “Mitzvah Tank” where they passed out Shabbos candles to Jewish women.
And for those who conceive of New York as “Shoppers Heaven,” they got a chance to shop their way along Fifth Ave.
Friday night, our girls joined over 500 girls for an all-girls Friday night dinner with singing, cheering, lectures and discussions, including a talk with Alex Clare, of Microsoft’s famous - despite Rabbi Horowitz having never heard of it ;) - “Too Close” song which peaked at number 4 on the UK singles chart and number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100, who shared his personal journey with the teens who were amazed to learn how the British superstar keeps kosher, Shabbat, and learns Torah even on tour.
The boys had their own unique experience as they joined the Yeshiva for a real yeshiva learning session, followed by a delicious meal and then lectures, discussions and a talk by Alex Clare.
Shabbat morning, the teens had a choice of joining a beginners service, regular service or one of several round-table discussions on a variety of topics.
Our group (which had somehow grown to 35 by this time), joined Esther’s family for a delicious Shabbat lunch. Afterward we all went back to the yeshiva for games, nosh and hanging out with some of the other Cteen groups.
Saturday night, we took the subway to Times Square where we practically “took over” the square. We heard Havdalah and a concert by Alex Clare, and watched as the jumbotron broadcast pictures and videos of us and of all kinds of Jewish themes.
Sunday morning, we went to the Ohel (The Rebbe’s resting place in Queens) where we all had a chance to daven and leave a note. Many of the teens described their feelings as "very inspired."
After the Ohel, we had a quick tour of Crown Heights and hit the Judaica store, which was the kids’ favorite.
We then had the closing banquet lunch and award ceremony, where 4 of our teens received an award for leadership and our chapter was a finalist in the running for “best chapter of the year.”
After that, we rushed to pack up and catch our taxis to the airport.
Miraculously, despite a snowstorm brewing in NY and an ice storm in Dallas, we took off and landed safely in Dallas. Doubly miraculous (as far as the teens were concerned) School was canceled on Monday! And everyone was able to sleep in!