New club for Jewish teens aims to empower and guide youth

Kickoff event to feature Pokemon Go-inspired games


A program for teens is helping local Jewish youth make the transition to adulthood and become active participants in their synagogue and community at large.

CTeen, which stands for Chabad Teen Network, is based on a national program that focuses on a comprehensive curriculum based on a three-part framework: education, humanitarianism and social skills. Scheduled to begin Sept. 18, the program aims to provide a deeper and more advanced Jewish education and act as part of teens’ Bar/Bat Mitzvah training, as well as a monthly get-together for young teens.

Chabad at the Beaches launched a local chapter of the teen program about seven years ago, but how active the program has been over that time depended on the amount of youth that fell into the age group of about 11-15. This year, the program has picked up steam with a new group coming of age.

“We feel that it’s a need for the community – to fill the need of those kids who come to synagogue and feel lost and they don’t know where to go,” said Rabbi Eli Wilansky, the club’s director. “We want them to understand and be part of the community during services and other aspects that we do in our daily life – especially in the synagogue, to understand what the prayer is all about and how to pray.”

The CTeen program is designed to bring teens together, help them learn about themselves and give back to the community. An extension of Hebrew school, the program will include one monthly outing or in-house activity and run for the length of the school year.

To make the kickoff event fun and relatable to children, Wilanksy said, some of the event’s activities will be based on a theme already popular among teens – Pokemon Go. But instead of catching Pokemon, the teens will play “Gotta Catch All the Mitzvahs Scavenger Hunt” and “The Kabbalah and Torah of Pokemon Go.”

CTeen will hold its 2016 inaugural kickoff event Sunday, Sept. 18 at 9:45 a.m. at Chabad at the Beaches, 521 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. The event will feature brunch, games and other activities. Parents are welcome. For more information, call (904) 535-9193 or visit for more information about CTeen events.