Creativity at Your Fingertips

Today, I went to the Limmud session called "Creativity at Your Fingertips." This session was about using Adobe apps on iPads to create visual tools to stop bullying. The program was in partnership with the Malala Fund and the creators behind the movie "Bully."

My friends and I used these tools to create a visual story about a fictional girl that was getting bullied. It was so much fun using the apps and I loved that a corporation like Adobe is using its powers to give back to the community! It was a great experience and I would highly recommend that everyone visits the Adobe Creativity room!

Ariel Wexler, Cotton States Region, IC Press Corps 2016

IC 2016 participants enjoyed a fun-filled day of Limmud programming!

Photos courtesy of: Julia Saltzman, Ohio Northern Region, IC Press Corps 2016

Shabbat Shalom from IC 2016

B'nai B'rith Girl teen song leader enjoying programs with friends. Photo by Mike Kandel Photography.

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 Baltimore!

Aleph Zadik Alephs during IC 2016. Photo by Mike Kandel Photography

Now, more than 2,400 of us are coming 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!

And, BBYO is about to break a Guinness World Record for the largest Shabbat dinner ever!

@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 Baltimore!

IC 2016 Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Jason Dixson Photography.

Teens Are Loving the Leadership Labs!

Check out some of the pictures below to see what BBYO teens have been up to during Leads day and in their leadership lab sessions!

Photo by BBG Hanna Haiman, Great Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Photo by AZA Alec Cohen, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Photo by AZA Alec Cohen, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Photo by AZA Alec Cohen, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Photo by BBG Hanna Haiman, Great Jersey Hudson River Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Photo by AZA Alec Cohen, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press CorpsPhoto by AZA Alec Cohen, IC 2016 Press Corps

Limmud session. Photo by Elias Kaerhoeg

Learn, Laugh, Lead

Today, teens from across the Order had the opportunity to learn about how to be leaders in their communities. After starting the day with an inspiring leadership plenary, teens split off into their respective leadership labs to learn and give back to the communities. Leadership labs included Public Arts, BBG and AZA Leadership, Globalization, Veteran and Civil Affairs, and more.

 I was lucky enough to attend the off-site leadership lab called Building a Brand. The lab took place in Creative Alliance, a former theatre turned creative arts showcase building. The space was full of modern art and history. The leadership lab was presented by the company CatalystCreativ, a company that creates events and brand identities for organizations including ESPN and Coca Cola.

In this lab, we learned about digital strategy, communication, event programming, production, graphic design and branding, all through a BBYO lens. Alongside an interactive presentation that taught us about these topics, we were given the opportunity to split off into groups where we worked through scenarios including "design a theme and logo for IC 2017" and "create a 4-week promotion campaign for Marathon Madness".

By taking the concepts we were taught and applying them to these scenarios, I was able to learn how to plan effective campaigns and attention-grabbing events. These are skills which I intend to bring back to my region and chapter to take my programming abilities to the next level.

After completing this leadership lab, I find myself excited to return from IC with new ideas on how to go that extra mile when planning events, and to share my newfound knowledge with the growing leaders in my region. I look forward to all the leadership and learning opportunities that are still to come throughout this weekend.

Hailey Appel, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Everyday Heroes, Just Like Us

After my leadership lab today, one thing was apparent: Malala Yousafzai is a teenage girl. Just like me. Just like every one of us.

I participated in the “Stand UP: Global Access to Education” leadership lab, and in addition to being engaged in a vibrant and dynamic workshop with Malala Fund representatives on social media and advocacy, teens in the lab had the privilege of viewing “He Named Me Malala,” a 2015 documentary about Malala Yousafzai’s life in Pakistan and her journey into activism. What struck me as special about the documentary was its inclusion of raw, sweet, familial moments of Malala’s life with her family in England. 

I particularly remember one moment where she was discussing her relationship with her family. Her younger brothers described her as “naughty,” and they regarded each other sarcastically, with an affectionate sense of humor. She talked about play-fighting with her brothers, and her brothers complained about how long it took for Malala to do her homework. In these moments, Malala came alive, not as the hyper-empowered voice of women and girls that she is often idealized as, but as the 18-year old girl she is, with her flaws and her strengths and her warm smile. She was illuminated with relatable characteristics; as a teenage girl with a constantly joking little brother, I found familiarity in her family act.

Malala’s life, as shown in her documentary, is full of contrasts. It is full of contradictions. One minute she is presenting in full eloquence before the United Nations; the next she is showing an interviewer pictures of cricket and tennis players on whom she has a crush. One day she is meeting with Barack Obama to talk through the implications of drone strikes; the next she is giggling in class, navigating the complexities of high-school friendships. A favorite detail of mine was when Malala went through her test papers and showed the videographer tests with Cs and Ds plastered across the top. Even Malala Yousafzai, girls’ education advocate extraordinaire, messes up in school sometimes. Just like me. Just like every one of us.

But what message can we derive from this? What purpose is there in knowing that Malala Yousafzai falls for boys and gets bad grades sometimes? I believe that when thinking of celebrities and major policymakers, we often alienate ourselves from them. We respect their work while see it as unattainable for ourselves, even though they too are flawed and insecure. When we see someone like Malala admitting to these traits and showcasing them juxtaposed with her success, is sparks something empowering. It lets us know that despite our failures, we have the potential to reach incredible heights. It lets us know that we, her fellow teens, can not just overcome, but also embrace our perceived shortcomings to achieve something significant.

For above all, above her speaking engagements, above her appearances, Malala is but a person with a passion. Just like me. Just like every one of us.

Rachel Altman, NRE (D.C. Council), IC 2016 Press Corps

Meet Gil Katzir from the Israeli Delegation!

Gil Katzir from Israeli is excited to be at IC 2016!

Gil Katzir from Israeli is excited to be at IC 2016!

Name: Gil Katzir

Age: 16

Country/Region: Israel

How did you hear about BBYO?

I'm from Maccabi Tzair and it's like BBYO. We are the delegation from Israel, and every year delegations of BBYO travel to Israel to meet our chapters. We create a connection, and about 27 of us came this time.

How many years have you attended IC?

This is my first IC. Every year, there are about 100 Israeli teenagers who want to apply and go. We have to go through a series of tests, including English testing. Every year, our delegation has gotten bigger and more Israeli teens are getting to experience what I am this year.

What is your favorite part of IC so far?

Wednesday morning in Shacharit has been my favorite. It was so amazing to see all these Jews from different countries know the same songs and prayers. It shows our connection as a movement and a people. It was an amazing experience.

What are you most looking forward too?

I'm excited to see Jason Derulo perform! I'm also very excited to meet new friends from other countries and make connections with them.

If you were able to come back next year, who would you want the performer to be?

I would really like it to be Chris Brown or Enrique Iglesias, but my number one would be Adam Levine.

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

Grassroots Advocacy is Great!

Leads Day is an event I've been excited about since I got the steering assignment last year. I went to both Impact summer programs and really wanted to use my knowledge of activism and advocacy with the rest of the people in BBYO.

Stephanie Margolis and I led a session called Grassroots Advocacy where we worked with StandWithUs to teach effective methods of deflecting anti-Israel movements on campus (AKA Defense Against the Dark Arts). StandWithUs showed the group how to disarm anti-Israel arguments and tell the difference between an argue net for human rights and  anti-semitism.

Leads Day was a really interesting canvas to show members, especially younger ones, how to bring community service and advocacy back home. There was a lot of information about Israel and about movements like BDS that I learned from my session, which I can now bring back home to my chapter and work with them to make our community a better place.

This was a really important experience that I'm so honored to have experienced. The team I worked with was fantastic, the Administrative Assistants were attentive and helpful, and the whole environment was very educational. It's definitely an experience I would recommend for any Aleph or BBG apply for.

Michael Blickstein, Region, IC 2016 Press Corps

Choose Your Own Leadership Adventure with BBYO Leadership Labs !

Today is BBYO LEADS Day- a program immersion day that offers nearly 30 leadership labs with organizations across Baltimore. Teens are given the opportunity to learn about whatever interests them. While some chose to dive deeper into exploring advocacy, civic engagement or education, others spent their day covering event management and design or marketing and communications.

Andie Mermelstein and Jaclyn Finkelstein from Gold Coast Region at the Chapter Excellence Leadership Lab.

From learning about Israel with guest speakers like Nitzan Ben Shaya from the Maccabi World Union, to engaging in discussions about LGBTQ inclusion with representatives from the organization Keshet, teens are having meaningful experiences about relevant topics. Leadership Labs about chapter and program development encourage teens to be catalysts for change in their regions back home. Some participants were able to visit Civic Works Real Food Farm to gain insight about food sustainability. Additional sessions involving conversations about globalization, human rights, and philanthropy inspired teens to be change agents. There are even programs about political engagement and social entrepreneurship.

Transgender model and activist, Geena Rocero, engages teens in a question and answer session at the LGBTQ Inclusion Leadership Lab.

Transgender model and activist, Geena Rocero, engages teens in a question and answer session at the LGBTQ Inclusion Leadership Lab.

The many BBYO Leadership Labs offered at IC 2016 are enabling teens to lead their communities and expand their horizons! 

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

It Has Begun! - IC 2016 Opens With A Bang

Opening Ceremonies is always a great time, a culmination of all regions and countries as the entire Order unites as one. It’s truly remarkable to see how much BBYO has grown internationally over the past 3 years. At International Convention 2013 in Washington, D.C., each international delegation only had a few representatives, but now at IC 2016, countries such as Argentina and Serbia have a thriving presence and group at convention.

Part of the crowd at opening ceremonies. Photo by Elias Kaerhoeg.

Tonight at opening ceremonies, we heard stories from past international board members, AZA and BBG honorees, the International Boards of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the B'nai B'rith Girls, as well as the Vice President and Designer Fashion Director of Nordstrom’s, Jeffrey Kalinsky. It was amazing to hear how much of an impact BBYO has on people, while providing them with perspective. Out of all the great speakers, the highlight of them all was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who directly addressed the IC body via a recorded video. He discussed how much of a difference BBYO teens can have on the world and our communities when we work together. All and all, it was a great night and there are plenty more in store for days to follow.

A surprise concert by pop-duo Timeflies kicked off International Convention 2016! Photo by Jason Dixson Photography.

Daniel Michaels, Michigan Region, IC 2016 Press Corps