INTRODUCING THE 93RD GRAND BOARD OF THE ALEPH ZADIK ALEPH AND THE 73RD INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF THE B’NAI B’RITH GIRLS

THE 93RD GRAND BOARD OF THE ALEPH ZADIK ALEPH
Grand Aleph Godol: Ron Hasson, BBYO Central Region West
Grand Aleph S’gan: Jacob Lewis, BBYO Southern Region: Atlanta Council
Grand Aleph Moreh: Dylan Meehan, BBYO Nassau Suffolk Region
Grand Aleph Mazkir: Jake Busch, BBYO Southern Region: Atlanta Council
Grand Aleph Shaliach: Jack Rosenblum, BBYO Eastern Region: Virginia Council

THE 73RD INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF THE B’NAI B’RITH GIRLS
International N’siah: Rebecca Sereboff, BBYO Northern Region East: Baltimore Council
International S’ganit: Julia Paul, BBYO Mid-America Region: Kansas City Council
International Aym HaChaverot: Allie Kalik, BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council
International Mazkirah: Caroline Shrock, BBYO Gold Coast Region
International Sh’licha: Noga Hurwitz, BBYO Central Region West

Chapter Program Showcase

Avi Zucker, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2017 Press Corps 

Avi Zucker, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2017 Press Corps 

By Emma Reed, Westchester Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

The Chapter Program Showcase displays the best of the best in chapter programming from around the Order. This year’s programs absolutely did not disappoint. Programs ranged from presentations from international delegations, to MBA programs like B’yachad BBG #2495 of Southern Region: Atlanta’s program “Inside and Out”, to StandUp programs like Chevrah BBG #2342 of South Jersey’s “Make Your Mark”, and so much more. One particular program that stood out was Chaverim BBYO #5371 of GJHRR’s “Up, Up, and Oy Vey: The History of Comic Book Superheroes and Judaism”. In the program, it was discussed how posture and tone of voice are used to convey character. There was also a conversation about the contrast between Hitler and Superman in that the Nazi party was all about those in power politically, socially, and economically dominating those of lesser status whereas Superman uses his power to help those who cannot help themselves. Another enriching program was Austria and Hungary’s showcase. I was able to learn so much about both countries’ respective histories and cultures. For example, I learned that the Danish King invited Jews into his country in the 1600’s because he had heard that Portuguese Jews had boosted the economy. Also, in modern-day Denmark, religion plays very little role in everyday life; most aspects of society, including government, education, etc. have no religious influence whatsoever. Overall, all programs were meaningful, educational, and fun, and all chapters did exceptionally in leading them!

Limmud 2: An Israeli-Arab's Journey to Israel Advocacy

Avi Zucker, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2017 Press Corps 

Avi Zucker, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2017 Press Corps 

By Emma Reed, Westchester Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

In “ An Israeli-Arab’s Journey to Israel Advocacy”, we had the privilege to hear Yahya Mohammed's story of change. Yahya is from a small Arab town in Israel called Umm Al-Fahm. Growing up, he was taught to hate Israel and everything it stands for. His entire town did not believe in Israel’s right to exist. One day in school, he saw a world map on which the entire country of Israel was replaced with Palestine and even though it aligned with everything he had ever been taught, he felt that the map’s complete lack of recognition of the state of Israel and reported the it to Israeli authorities.He remembers this as his first act of Israel advocacy. When he graduated out of school, he moved to Tel-Aviv to work at a big hotel. During his time there he was actually exposed to the Jewish people and grew friendly with his Jewish co-workers. Because of this new-found exposure, his views on the Jewish people and on Israel as a whole shifted dramatically.

Then, in 2014, when three young Jewish boys were kidnapped in Israel, he felt the need to change action and joined the social media campaign by posting a picture of himself holding up a sign saying “Bring Back Our Boys” along with the Israeli advocacy. This sparked outrage with Arabs from around the world and from his own home town. They called him a “traitor” and “spy” and made multiple threats on his life. Not long after, he was contacted by StandWithUs, an organization dedicated to education on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yahya now spends his life educating and sparking conversation with those who are on the Palestinian side of the conflict out of ignorance. “You are the new generation of the Jewish Nation” he said, “and you are being unpowered to find your connection to Israel and your heritage. And always remember that every time you stand up to hate and misinformation about Israel, you stand up for the democratic values in the middle was and all Israelis just like me”. Yahya inspired those in his program and everyone he meets to make a difference, and reminds us that all hate can be overcome with enough love.

IC Sightseeing

By Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Don’t Mess With Texas: Adventures in Downtown Dallas

On our last day of IC 2017, participants went sightseeing across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, in locations such as the Fort Worth Stockyards, Texas Motor Speedway, Dallas Zoo, and more. I visited the Dallas Museum of Art and Sixth Floor Museum, and had the chance to explore what downtown Dallas has to offer. At the Dallas Museum of Art, we got to enjoy art from Texas and around the world. We even saw a replica of Coco Chanel’s house, with pieces from her art collection! After lunch, we visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was killed. We saw the artifacts and documents which defined life in 1960’s America, in the very building where such a pivotal and horrifying moment occurred. It was an interesting and engaging way to experience a time in American history that changed the trajectory of America, and learn more about the Kennedy family’s legacy to the world. It was great for everyone who went sight-seeing to get some fresh air and experience the best of Dallas before departing International Convention. 

Senior Program

By Harrison Thorn, Rocky Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

The Song Session of a Lifetime

To honor the seniors, a special song session was held for them after the State of the Order Address. It featured songs like "Wonderwall," "One Day," "Count on Me," "Magnificence," and other songs of that we know and love from summer programs. As the night drew to a close, it began to dawn on some that for them and myself, we are nearing the end of IC and our BBYO careers. The mood of the room shifted from happy to nostalgic in a matter of moments. I know I speak for all of the seniors when I say that I will always miss my friends from outside of the region, but I know these friendships will last a lifetime. The song session for the seniors truly highlighted the power of BBYO, Summer Experiences, IC, and music. 

On behalf of the seniors, I'd like to thank everyone who helped make this song session and this incredible weekend possible, for allowing us to have one last meaningful moment with all of our closest friends.

State of the Order 2017: How Could We Get Better?

By Leah Kay, Liberty Region Alumna, Elon University 2019, IC 2017 Press Corps

Tonight, the Grand and International Boards spoke to the order about the past year and their many accomplishments. Seeing BBYO flourish in Jewish teens around the world in the last year, Aaron Cooper, 92nd Grand Aleph Godol, and Ellie Bodker, 72nd International N’siah kicked off the evening with an empowering speech. Following, we celebrated the achievements of our movement presented by the rest of the Grand and International boards. AZA and BBG are stronger than ever, and that could not have been any clearer on a night like tonight. 

Main guest speakers included:
Anthony Ervin: 2016 Rio Olympics Medalist, US Olympic Swimming Team
Joshua Malina: Actor, Scandal & The West Wing
Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan: Act, Hamilton
Congressman Pete Sessions: 32nd District of Texas, Republican Party
Milana Vayntrub, Actress and Refugee Activist 

These speakers ensured teens would stay active in their communities through motivating speeches connecting them to the teens. All reflecting on the past day or two about the activities the teens have participated in, showing how much of an impact they are already making.

50th Year Alumni Q&A

By Ari Kaganovsky, Liberty Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

International Presidents Reconnect With Their Predecessors

This afternoon, Aaron Cooper and Ellie Bodker, the Grand Aleph Godol and International N’siah, met with former international presidents of BBYO from around fifty years ago. They started the session by introducing themselves and giving some insight into what they have accomplished this term, including completing the push for nineteen-thousand North American teens during ILTC, the #VoiceYourVote campaign, Global Shabbat, and the great successes in globalization. Following this, they turned the floor over to the alumni, who asked questions about their experiences in this new era of BBYO in the 21st century.
 
With the magnitude of teens attending IC, many of the alumni were concerned about finding the balance between intimacy and the element of togetherness that was felt in the days where IC was at B’nai Brith Perlman Camp. Ellie explained that this is always questioned to maintain the feeling that BBYO exudes while adapting to the current situation. She discussed how opening ceremonies, Friday’s plenary, State of the Order, and more all help to allow all to feel the BBYO experience. At the same time, smaller programs such as Leads Day Labs, Limmuds, and Separates all have a more intimate atmosphere where fraternity and sisterhood as well as friendship can be felt. For example, in last night’s separates, there were an average of fifty to sixty Alephs or BBGs in a room, but all were able to experience the same programming. Much thought is put into picking which moments to make meaningful and which ones to show off the amazingness of 2,500 teens being together.
 
Another alumnus asked the presidents what they would say to the future Grand Aleph Godol and International N’siah at their fifty-year reunion. Ellie stated that she would talk about how BBYO gave her the opportunity to develop deep connections with other teens in her smaller Jewish community of Kansas City. Aaron talked about how BBYO was an introspective experience, allowing him to find his personal identity as the son of a caucasian Jewish woman from Long Island and an African American Christian father from South Carolina. One specific experience that he would share would be during his time in Budapest, Hungary, where BBYO is playing a great role in getting the Jewish community of the city back on its feet; seeing this rebound from the devastation of the Holocaust will always stick in his mind.

In this new age of technology and a much greater number of teens, one alumnus asked how the elections process is handled today. After explaining the specifics of how to run for Grand or International Board, it was clear that it is a much more rigorous process now, especially because of many calls and online forms they have to complete. Many of the previous Grand Aleph Godolim and International N’siot even remarked that the difficulty of the process would even cause many of them to drop their caucuses.

Ultimately, this Q&A session showed how now, as one alumnus put it, BBYO is “so different, but so the same.” Despite the half-century between their terms, all in the room were able to connect in their mutual love for BBYO and knowing their everlasting impact on the movement that they dedicated so much to. 

Limmud III - Alternative Facts

Hannah Geeser, Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Hannah Geeser, Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Harrison Thorn, Rocky Mountain Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

To believe or not to believe

In a country where the media is being questioned at every turn by not only citizens, but also the President himself, it is more important than ever to understand what news we can trust, what we cannot, and how to know if we are looking at facts or "alternative facts." Luckily for IC participants, there was a Limmud session that served specifically for this purpose. The program was led by Sydney Gart (RMR) and featured a panel of three journalists: Tomer Avital, an Israeli reporter who specialized in writing about political corruption, Julia Reinstein of BuzzFeed News, and Harry Enten from FiveThirtyEight. The program was a question and answer session where the audience asked questions about the guests' journeys to their careers as well as how to know what to trust. Some of the main insights came from Reinstein, who suggested that if a site sounds partisan, it probably is. She also implored that we try to find facts from multiple sources when trying to confirm or deny something. Another sentiment which seems to have been largely forgotten recently came from Enten. He said that the purpose of journalism is to portray the facts to the public and let the chips fall where they may. 

Alternative facts and fake news seem to be spurred largely by money and corruption. However, it can also come from people not necessarily motivated by money, but less educated people with opinions to share, or people like me - I'm the only source of news on this panel discussion, so as the reader, you have very little choice over whether or not to believe what I'm writing.  In other (fake) news, Selena is too good for Justin, so give up on that now. Overall, the panel discussion was a meaningful program where participants were able to dissect the current state of the media in America and Israel, as well as to learn how to combat the problem.

Shabbat Shalom Y’all

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps  

Shabbat is meant to be spent with family, and it was so special to spend Shabbat with my BBYO family from home and abroad. We started off Shabbat with Friday night services. I attended a Zen Shabbat service, which gave participants a sense of calm in the midst of a hectic week. We talked about our favourite ways to relax, which reinvigorated participants for the second half of IC. After services,  we had a traditional Friday night dinner - if you consider a Shabbat dinner with 2,500 people, traditional. I attended a special Shabbat dinner for high school seniors, where we celebrated our last Shabbat dinner at International Convention, and looked forward to continuing our involvement in the Jewish community on post-secondary campuses. To finish off Friday night, we attended Onegs to celebrate Shabbat, which ranged from song sessions to arts and crafts - there was even a rodeo! Saturday morning, we attended more Shabbat services to start off a busy day of Limmud sessions. I went to a Twitter service, where participants learned about the importance of social media in activism and self-expression. Celebrating Shabbat is always my favourite part of a BBYO convention, and this time was no exception. To see Jews from all over the world celebrate Shabbat in unison was such a beautiful and fun experience, which engaged and excited all participants.

Limmud 1 - ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

By Harrison Thorn, Rocky Mountain Region, and Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

The Frate Train to Success: The Story of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the social media campaign which went viral in 2014. It raised awareness and funds for ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a disease which slowly deteriorates its victims’ motor neurons, until victims lose all physical ability. But few people know its origin story. Andrew Frates always looked up to his older brother Pete, and considered him his greatest role model. Participants of IC 2017 were able to hear Pete and Andrew’s story from Andrew himself at a Shabbat Limmud session. 

In 2012, Pete was diagnosed with ALS, and knowing nothing about the disease, Andrew looked online to find any information he could about his brother’s diagnosis. He found hope in the story of a victim whose ALS symptoms had miraculously reversed, and used this hope to propel a movement. He started Team Frate Train, and organized fundraising events like sports tournaments to raise funds for his brother’s treatment. Once the Ice Bucket Challenge reached his hometown of Boston, he re-branded it as a way to create funds and awareness for his brother’s disease. 

What started as a small initiative within his hometown and inner circle became a global phenomenon when high-profile celebrities like Julian Edelman, Justin Timberlake, and Sidney Crosby took part. The Ice Bucket Challenge eventually raised over $220 million, had ten billion views on Facebook, and “what is ALS?” was the third most searched term in 2014. “The conversation has changed from if there’s to cure to when there’s a cure”, said Andrew, who said that while his brother’s motor ability is deteriorating, he still lives a rich life; he has a wife and children, and attends sports games and concerts with his family. Not only that, but also Pete has surpassed the average lifespan for those with ALS, which is usually two to four years after diagnosis. Andrew reminded participants the importance of finding a role model or mentor, and to always “be passionate, be genuine, be hard-working, don’t be afraid to be great.”

Shabbat Shalom BBYO!

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Leah Kay, Liberty Region Alumna, Elon University, IC 2017 Press Corps

As we come to the close of our BBYO Leads Day, we have time to reflect on all of our programs, events, and learning opportunities from the past days. Teens, speakers, staff, and all other attendees have been inspired through social justice causes and advocacy sessions. We learned about globalization, Israel, leadership, marketing and communications, philanthropy, political engagement, relationship building, service, chapter and program development, event management, design and more with experts from organizations and companies across Dallas!

Together for a Shabbat like no other – between tonight and tomorrow morning, we have several oneg options, including a Bro-neg sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity and Dough-neg where teens can make challah for charity with the organization Challah for hunger. With over 23 different Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat service options (all teen-led, of course), there are plenty for teens to choose from and find a great spiritual and engaging fit! 

@BBYOINSIDER AND ALL OF OUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCES WILL GO OFF-LINE IN OBSERVANCE OF SHABBAT. WE’LL BE BACK AT HAVDALAH TOMORROW NIGHT, AND YOU CAN RE-JOIN US LIVE AT THAT TIME AND THEN LATER FOR STREAMING OF BBYO HONORS: STATE OF THE ORDER AND AWARDS GALA. 

We wish you and your communities a happy and peaceful Shabbat from Dallas!

Where in the world are our teens Today?

Aydin Mayers, Westchester Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Aydin Mayers, Westchester Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Leah Kay, Liberty Region Alumna, Elon University, IC 2017 Press Corps

Leaving the Leadership Lab Plenary excited and motivated for the day after incredible speakers, teens headed out to various sites across the Dallas Metropolitan area. Learning about advocacy methods and leadership opportunities, the teens heard from leaders all over the country. Here are the places teens attended: 

Communications
CPR & First Aid Training
Creative Arts
Culinary Arts
Cultural Leadership
Global Movement for Change
Homelessness Awareness
Leadership for Democracy
Leadership Through Business
Lifeguard Training
Marketing
Membership
Music
Performing Arts
Programming with Design Thinking
Social Entrepreneurship
Speak UP:
Experience Israel
Israel Advocacy
Peace Process

Start Up Nation
Animal Rights
Civil Rights
Disability Awareness
Education
Environmental Education
Food Sustainability
Holocaust Denial
Holocaust Education and Combating Anti-Semitism
Hunger - Jewish Family Services
Hunger - The North Texas Food Bank
Immigration Rights and Refugee Crisis
LGBTQ Rights
Political Engagement
Veterans Affairs
Sports Leadership
Technology and Coding
Teen Philanthropy
Wellness and Mindfulness
Women in Leadership

 

Caring With a Cause: A New Lens on Philanthropy

Zachary Fisher, Gold Coast Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Zachary Fisher, Gold Coast Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps 

Social action is a key component of BBYO’s philosophy, and philanthropy is a key method to create social change. It is so essential to BBYO’s mission, yet many people don't understand what philanthropy is, or why it’s important. On BBYO Leads Day, I had the opportunity to hear from Briana Holtzman, the director of JTFN (the Jewish Teen Funders Network) which gives teens across North America and Australia the resources to allocate funds to charitable organizations worldwide. She explained to us that while people associate philanthropy with wealth, you don't need to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist. In fact, you don’t need money at all - all you need is a strong love for a cause, and a desire to share that love with others. Philanthropy is organizing people to support a cause, whether that be through marketing, event planning, or donating funds. According to Briana, there are four T’s which everyone can bring to the table - treasure, time, talent, and ties. We spent the afternoon discussing which treasures (financial resources), talents, and ties (connections to supporting organizations) we each can use to best support our favourite causes.

Then Jake Marcus, who organized Team Intestinal Fortitude to raise funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, spoke to us about his personal ties to this organization. In 2010, Jake’s father was diagnosed with Crohn’s, so he laced up his sneakers, joined the Boston Marathon, raised thousands of dollars for Chron’s and Colitis research. Since then, Jake has run events from dinner banquets to college sports tournaments to raise money for a foundation close to his heart. To donate to an organization, people need to feel an emotional tie to the cause, and hearing Jake’s story gave everyone in the room a personal connection to Chron’s and Colitis. He exemplified how important it is to create an emotional response for effective philanthropy. Finally, we put what we learned into practice, and in small groups designed resource collection campaigns for causes ranging from education reform to animal rights. Leads Day inspired and invigorated all of us to create change at home through philanthropy, and gave us a fresh perspective on what it mean to be a philanthropist.

North Texas is Hungry for Change

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

Keith Kalinsky, Big Apple Region, IC 2017 Press Corps

By Harrison Thorn, Rocky Mountain Region, IC Teen Press Corps 2017

The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) has set a goal to be providing 92 million meals a year by 2025. Participating in LEADS Day at IC 2017, 54 BBYO members and staff from around the world participated in the Stand Up: Hunger - The North Texas Food Bank Leadership Lab led by Samantha Katz (KIO) and Julie Missry (KMR) to help the food bank reach this goal. We started off by listening to 2 knowledgeable speakers who helped us learn the definitions of applicable terms regarding food insecurity (when you don't know where your next meal is coming from) to become more educated about the issues surrounding food insecurity in the Greater Dallas area. We heard from Rebecca Katz, the Education and Training Manager at Repair the World and Loren Shatten, the Assistant Director for Challah for Hunger. 

Next, we watched an informative yet comedic video about the safety precautions (all of the people in the video were named after fruits and vegetables) and learned about the various services the NTFB provides, like Food 4 Kids (giving bags of food to children on Fridays so their families have food for the weekend). They also have a program where volunteers drive around North Dallas delivering boxes of nutritious food to seniors who cannot go to the grocery store themselves. These boxes last them 2 weeks and are often the only source of food these seniors have. 
Having been inspired by these videos and the programs we were helping, we set to work making bags for school families and sorting fruit. The general populace had a smile on their face and were enjoying their volunteer work through a little competition they created to see which group could make the most bags. We were all happy to be making a difference in the community. 

The numbers are staggering. Over a million families in North Dallas are living below the poverty line and 1 in 4 kids in North Texas live in a food insecure household. BBYO's contribution to the NTFB today will help them provide healthy food and fresh produce for the North Dallas area and I'm very proud to have been apart of it. As I sit here today, wishing I'd brought travel tissues, I'm finding that I'm ok wiping my nose on my shirt, because what we've accomplished today is so much bigger than ourselves, and we changed the game, at least temporarily, for hundreds of families in the Dallas area.

"BBYO LEADS: Change the game and lead the way"

By Hannah Geeser, Mountain Region, IC Teen Press Corps 2017

This morning, we heard from an amazing array of gamechangers about leadership, and what it means to change the game as a leader and human being. Here are the top 10 moments from this morning’s LEADS plenary:

1. We kicked off BBYO LEADS with learning about & singing with the Dallas Homeless Choir.

2. Rabbi Elka Abrahamson & Imam Abullah Antepli led us in a discussion of bridging difference across our Muslim brothers & sisters.

3. “You are too young to know your idea is impossible. Listen to the voice that says you can do it.” - Adam Braun, Founder of Pencils of Promise and MissionU

4. It’s awesome to be here at IC together, united as one crew of gamechangers.

5. Gamechanger Wendy Davis shared her story of how her roots helped guide her to stand on the Texas State Senate Floor filibustering for a cause she believed in—pink sneakers and all.

6. Powerful words from Michael Skolnik, CEO of SOZE, and Brittany Packnett, VP of Teach for America National Community Alliances & Co-Founder of Campaign Zero. They inspired us to make a difference in our community.

7. We need to be upstanders instead of bystanders, and speak truth to power when needed by Deborah Lipstadt, the historian and professor of Jewish History whose story inspired the film “Denial.”

8. We remember…

9. Our commitment to the State of Israel was affirmed when Hilik Bar, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, spoke about the need for peace and how we must change the game to get there.

10. To close out plenary, we heard from our youngest gamechanger, Alex Myteberi. He wrote a letter to President Obama about the Syrian refugee crisis—and then actually met the president at the White House. His main message was “Be nice,” and was a great way to go into our 41 Leadership Labs.

Opening Ceremonies

By Emma Reed, Westchester Region, IC Press Corps 2017

Electric. That is the most accurate description of the mood during IC 2017’s Opening Ceremonies. There was screaming, cheering, dancing, singing, confetti cannons, and more. After a great performance from the Teen Band, we kicked off the ceremony by watching an opening video welcoming everyone to IC. This was followed by remarks by the NTO N’Siot and Godolim and a short video from Mark Cuban about the importance of our Movement. After, Arnie Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary spoke to us about the need to remain as active Jews. He talked of Jewish values and their impact on the greater world around us. “We have work to do, BBYO. Let's go do it!”, he cried calling us to action. Then, the superstars of the convention were introduced: Grey Silverman and Jeannie Speigel, our International S'ganim. They collected the spirit cup and gavel from last year’s winners and got everyone very excited for the coming weekend. “Our hope is that you can see what you are a part of," said Grey about the massivity of our movement. What followed was the video introducing the honorable Administrative Assistants, Captains and Coordinators, Steerers, and the 92/72 International Boards. Then, Ellie and Aaron, our international Presidents, introduced Julián Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. Justin Trudeau also sent a video, inspiring all of us when he said, “You have the blueprints for a better futures and there is no better time to share them than now”. Right after was the delegation roll-call. Denmark brought out a confetti cannon and as always, the fun costumes/handshakes/routines from the Regional/Council Presidents did not disappoint. We were then shown a video of encompassing the past year since last IC. This included recent politics, pop-culture, music, sports, those we have lost over the year, and BBYO movement updates. Finally, Seeb was revealed as the surprise performer! Seeb is a Norwegian D.J. and the room was bursting with energy during his set. Overall, Opening Ceremonies was one for the history books, and promises a record-breaking and incredible IC to come! 

Israeli Teen Shares His Experience Here and at Home

By Ari Kaganovsky, Liberty Region, IC Press Corps 2017

This afternoon before opening ceremonies, we interviewed Daniel Segal, an 18-year-old delegate from Maccabi Tzair in Israel to find out his first impressions on IC and the international community and how this experience differs from those back in his home country. He is currently on a gap year to volunteer for Maccabi Tzair before he enters the Israeli military.

How did you first become involved in BBYO?

As a third grader, the coordinator from my local Maccabi Tzair chapter came to talk at my elementary school. There, they did “equipments”, or how each part of the youth group functions; “wrap” was my favorite part of it. After the demonstration, my friends and I all were very interested in joining, and I fell in love with it over the years, staying involved until today. Maccabi Tzair became my social life, making tons of friends and gaining the life skills that I have today.

What has been your favorite thing so far about being in America?

I love everything about being in America, but the organization of everything is amazing. Nobody seems to be late and everything is always planned out to the minute. Also, Americans always go all out, never just doing the bare minimum. You all have the mentality of going above and beyond.

How does this convention compare to the smaller conventions in your home countries?

We have a national convention every two years called Vida Artzit, where representatives from every chapter come together at a hotel for two days. There, we vote on laws and in the constitution that will affect Maccabi Tzair for the next two years. We don't have as many programs there because we have weekly programming for our own chapters. There are also smaller conventions throughout the year where nine to twelve teens from each chapter come together to improve themselves as coordinators. That is where we have programming similar to IC; at the last one, I was the logistics coordinator, so I took care of all the food and buses for everybody.

How have you been welcomed into the community?

I feel like a celebrity here. Every time I walk down he hall, somebody asks me where I’m from and wants to get to know me. Besides the special treatment, it’s amazing how all are welcome here. Nothing is based on your physical appearance, only your personality.

How does being Jewish affect your daily life at home?

I’m Israeli, so being Jewish is a massive part of who I am. Because of Yom Shabbat, there is always Shabbat spirit across Israel starting on Friday night. Everybody, including myself, has a massive Shabbat dinner with all our aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more on Friday nightwhere we do the standard blessings. I also had my Bar Mitzvah at the local Reform synagogue when I was thirteen, and we still go there every Friday night for Kabbalat Shabbat. You can’t not have a Jewish life in Israel. 

VIP Stakeholder Event (Dessert Reception with Dallas Community)

By Leah Kay, Liberty Region Alumna, Elon University, IC Press Corps 2017

At the VIP Stakeholder event tonight at IC, Dallas community members gathered to network, and hear stories of the impacts their efforts have on BBYO teens. Hearing from BBYO’s CEO, Matt Grossman, stakeholders and guests are welcomed. Dallas community member, Jayson Minsky reflects on his time in BBYO in what was Texoma Region, now known as two separate regions as North Texas Oklahoma and Lonestar. He remembers the great times in Texoma even though his two kids now heavily involved in BBYO cannot fully experience Texoma, but are having their own uniquely formative journeys in BBYO.

Matt Grossman welcomed the group with recognizing the helpful Dallas community volunteers who dedicated their time for the weekend the help “corral stampedes of teens”. These families also hosted over 160 teens from around the world the week leading up to International Convention. Grossman noted that Dallas is the only city with four heads of Jewish organizations in it right now: the Joint Distribution Committee, AIPAC, The Dallas Jewish Federation and the UJA Federation Presidents. He continued asking the audience to raise their hands if they were a teen in BBYO, had a child, or grandchild in BBYO. A large majority of the audience applied to one or all of the above, showing the generations upon generation giving their time and commitment to BBYO.

Jed Golman, the current Grand Aleph Sh’liach was asked about how BBYO made him a leader. He became involved in BBYO early on his freshman year of high school, and instantly found it easy to connect with kids because of their passion for BBYO in his chapter. BBYO served as a home for him and an outlet for leadership that he couldn’t find elsewhere. “It is not just a position so I can pick the homecoming theme, but BBYO gives me the platform and support to develop as a leader,” Jed explained about his time in AZA.

Game Changers Team Up

By: Bari Steel, Southern Region: Atlanta Council, IC Press Corps 2017

This year, the Grand and International Board worked to make sure that the planning and facilitation of February Execs would be unique, motivating, and inspiring; I am happy to say that it was a success. On Wednesday night the Order's top leaders joined together for a ceremonial roll call and break out sessions to talk through issues that they may be facing in their home community. On Thursday, we discussed proposed legislation and worked to ensure that our order would be in the best hands possible. Finally, the Executive Body was given the opportunity to hear personally from a top Jewish leader himself, Chancellor Arnie Eisen, the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His words have left impacts on all of us to continue our work within our BBYO communities and beyond.

The Momentum of Execs

By Jacob Bendalin, Rocky Mountain Region, IC Press Corps 2017

Similar to August Executive Meetings, February Executive Meetings was another moment when the executives and leaders in our Order came together to celebrate the successes of our Regions as well as participate in business. It was an incredible time to see how our respective Regions run, and how the International Order is thriving! Yet, this February Executives was very different from the one in August due to the fact that the whole International Order was here. Meeting kids from several different counties who are just as passionate as I am in BBYO was such a cool experience, as I was able to talk to them and discuss plans and goals for our future. February Execs was a unique opportunity and I was glad to extend my last International BBYO journey. Execs allows me to remember the vital role I play in our International Order and the momentum I have to incite change. I cannot wait to go back to RMR and help it prosper with all the new information available I received.