Rabbi Mendy Chazan and his wife Bunie are the new leaders of CTeens in Leeds.
Chabad Lubavitch appointed the couple following a two-year recruitment drive for the best candidates.
The dynamic duo visited the city last summer and has recently settled with the goal of enhancing a teenager’s Jewish identity.
To date they have hosted teens to get know them and have run a number of social activities.
“The programme will benefit participants now and when they move forward to university,” said Rabbi Chazan, who hails from Manchester.
“It is so important to develop Jewish pride to help combat anti-Semitism.”
Bunie Chazan, who grew up in Crown Heights, New York, believes the venture offers an exciting and unique opportunity.
“There are a lot of resources we have access to, which is great,” she said.
“We’d like to run holiday events, whilst Shabbat dinners boost a teen’s identity.
“We aim to build numbers; we want teens to bring their friends along and to help arrange events.”
For Rabbi Eli Pink, director of education of Lubavitch Leeds, it was essential to make the correct appointment.
“While interviewing it was important to have an America-English couple, because Rabbi Mendy knows the British mentality and Bunie has that American razzamatazz,” he enthused.
“CTeens is a prominent element of programmes that we offer.
“Teens are one of the most important demographics in our community because they grow into engaged students and future leaders,” he explained.
“We have youth programmes but needed a coherent plan for youngsters because there is a gap in our youth provision, there is lots of room for growth.
“To succeed in getting teens involved you need more face time with them. That is the best way to get to know them personally.
“It’s important you are not just the rabbi calling or face-booking them about events. There has to be a personal connection.
“It’s about empowering youth and handing responsibility over to them.”
“We’ve developed our work with younger kids and young professionals for a number of years; Chabad are successful on campus so this now enriches our overall commitment.”
He added: “Leeds is a growing, vibrant community. It’s an exciting time to move to the city with Leeds Jewish Free School now open; there is a lot happening.
“There is a really positive feeling, but the provision for teenagers is not quite there. We need to expand activities for teens in general.”