Good Morning, Baltimore: BBYO LEADS Plenary

Good morning, Baltimore! The energy heading into our first full day of IC 2016 is at an all time high. We began the day with a combination of our world's most prominent and most emerging leaders. The JEI Songleading Track, along with Happie Hoffman and Eric Hunker, led us in Lord Prepare Me, which set the tone for a morning of inspiration and learning. We kicked off the morning with Daniel Lubetzky, the son of a Holocaust survivor, and the CEO of KIND Snacks, whose call to action was to treat all people with kindness in every endeavor.

Teens were excited to hear from Gideon 'Giddy' Lichtman, retired U.S. Air Force Pilot and founding member of the Israeli Air Force. Photo courtesy of: Samuel Shatzkin, Manhattan Region, IC Press Corps 2016.

The crowd roared with laughter as one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force, Gideon Lichtman, recounted his life with blunt honesty and humor. The BBYO community felt a sense of pride and power as the CEO of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks, reminded us of the Jewish people's commitment to civil rights. Both men were honored with the 2016 Stand Up award in heartwarming ceremonies. Particularly powerful were the stories of Mona and Faiza, two 16 and 17 year old refugees from Syria. The girls emphasized the importance of education, a sentiment that was followed by Meighan Stone, the President of the Malala Fund.

Meighan Stone, the President of the Malala Fund, speaks to IC 2016 about the value of education and power of learning. Photo courtesy of: Samuel Shatzkin, Manhattan Region, IC Press Corps 2016.

Geena Rocero, a transgender model and advocate, and Jayson Olson, a member of Harvey Milk BBYO, spoke of the future of the LGBTQ+ community and reminded BBYO of our commitment to gender inclusivity. Whether the speaker was Dr. Einat Wilf or Oksana Galkevich, the overlying theme of the morning was clear: young people can and will change the world. 

There is a Hebrew song with the chorus "Ani veata nshanei et haolam"- "you and I will change the world." As we move into our Leadership Labs, we define this idea in a whole new way: "you and I" means young and old. "You and I" means AZA and BBG, "you and I" means African Americans, Muslims, Christians, and Jews. "You and I" means all of us.

Alanna Sereboff, NRE: Baltimore, IC Press Corps 2016