The    71nd International Board of the B'nai B'rith Girls and the 92nd Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.

The  71nd International Board of the B'nai B'rith Girls and the 92nd Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.

The 92nd Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph

Grand Aleph Godol: Aaron Cooper, BBYO Eastern Region: North Carolina Council
Grand Aleph S’gan: Grey Silverman, BBYO Eastern Region: North Carolina Council
Grand Aleph Moreh: David Ziman, BBYO Westchester Region
Grand Aleph Mazkir: Liam Faigen, BBYO Lonestar Region
Grand Aleph Shaliach: Jed Golman, BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region

The 72nd International Board of the Bnai Brith Girls

International N’siah: Ellie Bodker, BBYO Mid-America Region: Kansas City Council
International S’ganit: Jeannie Spiegel, BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council
International Aym HaChaverot: Leah Politi, BBYO Kentucky Indiana Ohio Region
International Mazkirah: Jessica Edelson, BBYO Liberty Region
International Sh’licha: Nicci  Mowszowski, BBYO Rocky Mountain Region

See you in Dallas for IC 2017!

After five days of innovative programing, inspiring speakers, meaningful Shabbat experiences, and exciting elections with 2,400 teens from around the world, International Convention 2016 has come to a close! 

The IC 2016 body will return home to their chapters, regions, and councils and share their experiences. They'll engage in their communities with a new understanding of global Judaism, and inspire other teens to love BBYO.

Today, we begin our countdown to International Convention 2017 in Dallas! We will build upon the extensive success of IC 2016, featuring even more spirit, leadership development, community service and opportunities to connect with Jewish teens from all around the world – we can't wait to see you there!

IC Concert Features Jason Derulo, The Mowglis, and Cash Cash!

For the final night of International Convention 2016, teens enjoyed an exciting concert with special guests Jason Derulo, The Mowglis, and Cash Cash! The Mowglis opened the show and amped up the crowd. Then, Jason Derulo had everyone dancing and singing along to his hits. Finally, Cash Cash brought it home and ended the night on a high note.

Jason Derulo performing at IC 2016. Photo by: Samuel Shatzkin, Manhattan Region, IC Press Corps 2016

BBYO Honors: State of the Order and Awards Gala

BBG at the Havdalah service before States. Photo by Hannah Haiman.

The State of the Order, in my humble opinion, is one of the most underrated events of International Convention. There is nothing so inspiring, so fulfilling and motivational as sitting in a room filled with 2,400 Jewish teens to discuss your goals, successes, and areas of improvement. That said, for those of you consumed by Twitter and Yik Yak last night- here's the best recap I can give you of states.

The International Board- No states would be complete without hearing direct testimony from the board about the highs and lows of their term. Last night, the Grand and International boards introduced a partnership with Maccabi Tzair, announced a new MRIHA-based Recruitment initiative to fortify recruitment efforts, and welcomed new nations into our movement. This year promises to be a great one for BBYO. A common thread throughout all of the board members’ speeches was the injection of values into not only what we do, but how we approach every aspect of our lives.

Justin Baldoni and Claire Wineland- Screams echoed through the room as Justin Baldoni (of Jane the Virgin fame) walked onto the stage. He delivered a gorgeous speech about the importance of living life with a selfless world view, rather than dwelling in self-absorption. True to his stated philosophy, he brought his honored guest onstage. Claire Wineland, content creator and cystic fibrosis patient, inspired every teen, guest, and staff member in the room with her acceptance of death and her optimism toward the fleeting fruits of life.

Bob Geminder- As many times as I see a holocaust survivor speak, it will never stop being special, because I am part of what is likely the last generation to hear survivors speak in person. Bob, rather than focusing on the pains he endured in Europe, emphasized the loving and accepting community he found in BBYO upon moving to the United States. We experienced a touching moment with him as he reunited onstage with one of his best friends from his AZA days.

Sarah Tuttle-Singer- Last night, I heard one of the most unique and intriguing speeches I've ever heard about Israel. Sarah gave us a glimpse into the Israel she knows, which is full of bittersweet moments and culture and self-awareness. Juxtaposed with the media’s often unflattering portrayal of Israel, this speech helped us to understand that it is both foreign and relatable, both safe and dangerous; the country is full of beautiful contradictions.

Casey Neistat- Popular YouTube creator Casey Neistat wowed the crowd with a brief but impactful talk about his zero-to-hero journey. His outlook on life proves to be creative and fulfilling, and knowing that his wife is a BBG alum rendered him a true member of our community. Casey’s story tells us that there is always great hope, even when your life seems dark and unredeemable.

Rachel Altman, Northern Region East (D.C. Council), IC 2016 Press Corps

AZA's during the State of the Order. Photo by Hannah Haiman.

Showing Off at the Chapter Showcase

BBGs enjoying spooey at a sisterhood program. Photo by Julia Saltzman.

Chapters from all around the order had the opportunity to host originally local programs on a larger scale for the IC body. Programs included a mini-film festival, advocacy and social actions programs, an LGBTQ inclusion dialogue, and many more!

I attended the super heroes and super villains program run by two teens from Big Apple Region for the Chapter Showcase program. It was a great experience, and I even made some new friends from Denmark!

First, we brainstormed a concept and drew a picture of a super hero in small groups to then share with everyone else. Next, we talked about real people, such as Edward Snowden, and discussed whether they were considered villains or heroes. Finally, we were asked to come up with the traits of a true hero. My group said compassion and empathy. This was an inspiring program and it helped me form new friendships!

Ariel Wexler, Cotton States Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Teens enjoying the Bottles of Smiles program, hosted by Lonestar Region. Photo by Julia Saltzman.

Thanks to Our Advisors!

Congratulations to all our advisors of the year! We’d like to give a big thank you for being the best and always being there for us. Not to just the 2016 winning advisors, but to all advisors.

You work so hard to make sure we have everything we need and are always available, whether it be about a program or needing advice. We know you don’t have to volunteer to watch a bunch of excited teenagers for a few hours every week or month, and we don’t always show our thanks, but we do appreciate you. We promise.

All advisors work to develop relationships with not only the members but also their parents, other advisors, the regional office, and others in the community that support or work with teens. They keep the focus on the ideals of both 7 Cardinal Principals (AZA) and the Menorah Pledge (BBG), while helping to maintain chapter traditions as well. Our advisors strengthen the movement by empowering us, the teens, and ensuring that meaningful Jewish learning and experiences take place.

Our advisors enable us. They don’t do our work for us, they teach us to be independent and encourage us to work our hardest until our task is complete. Advisors don’t run the meetings, they guide them and keep the teens on track.

We’d like to give another HUGE thanks to our 2016 advisors of the year. Stuart Nulman, Audra Fierstein, Rebeka Mucheva, and Jessica Rosenbaum were all honored during the State of the Order.

Stuart Nulman of Montreal's Hagannah AZA #2274 of BBYO Eastern Canada Region was presented with the 2016 AZA Advisor of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of: BBYO Canada.

You have each displayed a passion for your chapter and your teens that is unparalleled. You have truly inspired and motivated your teens. They saw in you, what they hope to be: a strong leader, a caring friend, an encouraging teacher, a passionate Jew. We admire your dedication, and in return, we would like to honor you as advisor of the year.

Elena Rogers, Eastern Region : Virginia Council, IC 2016 Press Corps

IC Shabbat: A Modern Twist on a Classic

Last night, 2,400 teens gathered together for the world’s largest Shabbat dinner. Teens from 27 countries united and sang Shabbat prayers and ate Shabbat dinner together. While being surrounded by my brother Alephs and sister BBGs, I felt truly embraced by my BBYO family. On a typical Friday night, I would be spending Shabbat with my family at home, and while sitting with all my BBYO friends from around the world, I was reminded of being back home: a dinner with the biggest family I have.

After Shabbat dinner, it was time for services. Eight services were offered, all sharing the focus of celebrating Shabbat with our community. The pluralistic services featured different themes and music, and everyone was able to find the right service for them. I attended “A Rockin’ and Rollin’ Shabbat” where we related rock music to different prayers, and sang a variety of prayer/song mashups. Seeing how modern music and prayer can come together really exposed me to how incredible BBYO is in presenting Shabbat in a modern and relatable context. There truly is something for everyone.

The rest of Friday night was filled with interesting Shabbat electives, and I was able to talk to teens about how they felt experiencing Shabbat at IC. “Experiencing Shabbat with thousands of teens of the same faith makes me feel blessed." explained Elly Coodin from Red River Region. "I’m so lucky to be a part of something as amazing as BBYO, and I’ll cherish this moment forever.” Deena Goldman from Gold Coast Region thought, “it’s incredible seeing the entire Order come together and celebrate Shabbat as one community.”

Saturday morning services, again, offered an amazing variety of ways to celebrate our day of rest. I was lucky enough to attend a service that focused on prayer through meditation, and got to experience praying in a way that connected me with myself and my brothers and sisters in the service. Following services, our day was filled with meaningful Limmud sessions that broadened our knowledge and allowed us to get in touch with ourselves.

Shabbat at International Convention is an experience like no other. It has a unique ability to showcase how many different ways there are for us to pray and get in touch with our connection to Judaism. The modern takes on a Jewish tradition allow teens to get in touch with how they would like to celebrate.

From all the AZAs and BBGs at IC: Shabbat Shalom.

Hailey Appel, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2016 Press Corps


By Daniel Michaels, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Casey Neistat during his presentation at IC. Photo by Sam Shatzkin.

Limmud sessions give teens the opportunity to pick 3 sessions that appeal to them most, and there are many to choose from.  Different Limmuds feature different types of interests such as technology, BBYO, and even college-planning sessions. There were a lot of fantastic Limmud opportunities, but the speaker that drew the biggest crowd was Casey Neistat. As a 34 year old director and vlogger, Casey has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube and a huge overall fan base, many of whom are in BBYO. Today, Casey came to talk about his most famous videos and how he persevered to get where he is now in his career. Casey came from a similar background, also being raised Jewish, so everyone who attended his session could easily relate. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house!

Daniel Michaels, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Dialogue with Danes

Earlier today, I got the opportunity to speak with two teens from Denmark name Elias Axel Kaerhoeg (Left) and Jonathan Schustin (Right). The two teens live in a very different Jewish climate than we’re used to in North America, and they stated that they were especially thankful for ISF for inviting them and helping them come to BBYO's International Convention 2016. Elias is also a member of the IC Press Corps.

Michael (Interviewer): How long did your travel take to get to IC?

Elias: All in all, the trip took fourteen hours. Ten hours in flying, and four hours in layovers.

Jonathan: We flew from Copenhagen to [London] Heathrow and then from Heathrow to BWI.

Michael: What is BBYO like where you come from, and how is it different from North America?

Elias: BBYO is much smaller. Our programs are also much more religious because we live in an orthodox community.

Michael: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned that can help your chapter back home?

Jonathan: How to methodically discover what your goals are instead of going in blind.

Elias: We generally learned how to be a lot more organized. We also learned just how big BBYO is and how we can use it as a resource.

Michael: How do you think your Judaism has helped you connect with new people you’ve met here?

Jonathan: We think it’s really cool that we can talk to people about familiar issues and have them respond with different points of view than we’re used to. We come from a very orthodox culture, so it’s very nice to talk to more reform people about certain topics.

Michael: What are you most excited about for the rest of IC?

Elias: I’m very excited to meet and connect with even more people who I haven’t met yet and wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise.

Michael Blickstein, Great Midwest Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Danish BBYO teens Elias Axel Kaerhoeg (Left) and Jonathan Schustin (Right). Photo by Michael Blickstein.

"That Girl": Limmud Sessions Inspire Teens to Find Their Passions

We all know THAT girl. That girl who's always blabbing about social justice, politics, and the world to anyone who'll listen.  

I'm totally her. So today was my heaven.

From 11:00am to 4:00pm, the Order split up into different Limmud sessions, which were opportunities to learn about everything from Israeli dance to healthy snacks to domestic violence and Israel advocacy. The first Limmud I attended was on the Syrian refugee crisis, where I had the opportunity to hear from an Iraqi refugee currently living in Vienna named Amar. He was accompanied by a boy my own age who went to Syria, the environmentalist-turned-refugee advocate, and the founder of a major news organization that reaches millions of people per day. I then went to two sessions on politics, led by leaders from both the Republican and the Democratic parties. I know that I could not possibly express this in a more cliche manner, but my life has been wholly changed.

My Limmud on the Syrian refugee crisis brought out my emotional side. Millions and millions of innocent people have been displaced from their homes due to both the government that is supposed to protect them and a terrorist group that kills its own people. Whether you believe that the United States should fling open its doors to every refugee or whether you believe that the country should accept none, this crisis is horrifying. And it has to be horrifying, not simply because of the lack of humanity. It has to be horrifying because it was not long ago that we Jews fled our countries in similar numbers, in similar desperation, with similar struggles. The service I attended this morning did not include a Torah service- but this session was just that. I remembered the value repeated in the Torah time and time again- va’ahavtem et ha-ger, you shall love the stranger, and I realized that at its core, the refugee crisis is not one about politics or even religion, but about love and compassion. 

But love and compassion only go so far. In my next session, I learned how to take my feelings about major political and moral issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, and turn them into real actions. Hearing from both Democratic and Republican political leaders was extremely beneficial in broadening my prospective about party policies and bipartisanship. The speakers both mentioned a variety of policies that I strongly support and consistently dissent, but my political takeaway was nothing compared to my moral take away. I already know where I lie on the political spectrum; I would even go so far as to say that everybody who knows me knows where I stand. But what I did not realize was how Judaism and its values had on the people that make this country run.

I'm "that girl." That girl who's always blabbing about social justice, politics, and the world to anyone who'll listen. Today, I learned that it is okay to be "that girl." Today, I confirmed that I'd rather be "that girl" than anyone else. Because the people I learned from today are "that girl"- or guy, and they shake the world ever single day. 

Alanna Sereboff, NRE: Baltimore, IC Press Corps 2016

Multiple Limmud sessions gave teens the opportunity to engage in activities that interested them in a fun and exciting way! Some participants learned about the Israeli culture through Rikkudim, or dance.

Photos by: Samuel Shatzkin, Manhattan Region, IC Press Corps 2016