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.