International Convention Blog

Wrapping Up Our Largest IC Yet | See Y'all in Atlanta!

Posted on 02/17/2014 @ 12:00 PM

It's been a wild few days! Along with elections, where we elected our 90th & 70th Grand & International Boards, attendees of AZA BBG IC 2014 also participated in a number of other amazing events. Here's an update from members of our IC Press Corps about Sunday's activities:

Sunday morning, we were given the opportunity to explore Dallas at various locations instead of going to elections. Alongside many of my new friends, I boarded one of five buses that was headed towards The Dallas World Aquarium.

The bus ride was extremely short, and we soon were able to enter the aquarium. It was absolutely beautiful. After riding up an escalator, we were immediately put into the middle of a tropical rainforest exhibit with swans, monkeys, a waterfall and a manatee!

The first section of the aquarium contained three levels representing the canopy, the understory, and the aquatic parts of the Orinoco Rainforest. This section featured many exotic animals like toucans, sloths, giant anteaters, lizards, turtles, and much more.

The aquarium tanks, full of numerous species of frogs, sea horses, stingrays, sharks, and of course fish, served as a transition between the rainforest exhibit and the Mundo Maya exhibit. While for the most part the tanks were of the regular in ­the­ wall style, but the shark tank formed a really cool tunnel around pathway.

The second section focused on the ecosystem that the ancient Mayans revered. The walls featured beautiful murals of Mayan figures juxtaposed with exhibits with a jaguar, macaws, colorful birds, bats, and a myriad of more creatures. As well, Grupo Pakal performers put on a show for whoever wanted to watch.

After a few hours of exploring the aquarium, we all reboarded the buses and headed back to the hotel for chofesh.

Camille Cooper, BBYO Eastern Region: Virginia Council, Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps

At Closing Ceremonies Sunday night, the convention body was once again welcomed home, but this time, each teen was welcomed back home to his own region. We leave with new leadership skills to improve our regions, friends to last a lifetime and a renewed passion for the Order.

A highlight of the night was the Texas-style state fair. Events ranged from Armadillo Races to Old West Wanted pictures to a Petting Zoo. Yes, there was a petting zoo! The excitement of the state fair foreshadowed the incredible night ahead.

At the same time, the IC body enjoyed a concert by B.o.B, 3LAU and American Authors. The energy in the room was unbelievable! The room went wild as they walked on stage and nearly every teen sung the lyrics of their favorite songs.

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The crowd went wild as the winners of the Max F. Baer Spirit Gavel and Anita Perlman Spirit Cup were announced. The winner of the Spirit Gavel was BBYO Connecticut Valley Region, and the winner of the Spirit Cup was BBYO Mid-America Region! A huge congratulation to both regions on this incredible accomplishment.

The focus of this year's IC has been on welcoming home all Jewish teens, anywhere. As we leave convention, we are confident that we have gained the skills and passion to provide a stronger and more enriching home for more Jewish teens.

Sara Miller, BBYO Wisconsin Region, Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps

AZA BBG IC 2014 has made history… we can't wait for what's in store next. See you in Atlanta for AZA BBG IC 2014!

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Announcing the 90th and 70th Grand and International Boards

Posted on 02/16/2014 @ 06:00 PM

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90th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph

Sam Perlen, BBYO Cotton States Region, Grand Aleph Godol
Skylar Morley, BBYO Connecticut Valley Region, Grand Aleph S'gan
Alex Merritt, BBYO Central Region West, Grand Aleph Moreh
Jacob Nitzkin, BBYO Michigan Region, Grand Aleph Mazkir
Jonah Moore, BBYO UK & Ireland, Grand Aleph Shaliach

70th International Board of the B'nai B'rith Girls

Amanda Freedman, BBYO Lake Ontario Region, International N'siah
Rachel Cohen, BBYO Liberty Region, International S'ganit
Gabby Mesnier, BBYO Mid-America Region: St. Louis Council, International Aym HaChaverot
Roni Rose, BBYO Eastern Region: North Carolina Council, International Mazkirah
Brittany Bruck, BBYO Southern Region: Atlanta Council, International Sh'licha

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NFTY and BBYO: We Can Make Each Other Stronger

Posted on 02/16/2014 @ 02:00 PM

Written by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, RJ.org

As I write this, I’m on a literal and figurative high – literal because I’m writing to you from a flight back to New York from Dallas, where I had the privilege of attending and addressing the BBYO International Convention. Wait a minute, you’re thinking, Why is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism going to a BBYO convention? Isn’t BBYO the rival of NFTY, the Reform youth movement?

I’m here to tell you – and you can quote me on it – that BBYO is not our rival. They are our partner.

NFTY and BBYO both offer significant channels for Jewish teens to have experiences that can influence lives in permanent and profound ways. Through these channels, we engage tens of thousands of teens in weekend retreats, Israel trips, summer camp programs, and other leadership experiences that research shows are the most powerful Jewish identity-building experiences that our community has to offer.

But it is still not enough. Together, NFTY and BBYO reach only 3.5 percent of North American Jewish teens. Clearly, there is so much more to be done.

To the extent that these two youth movements can help one another and cooperate in pursuit of common goals, we must – by all means possible. To the extent that each offers unique and diverse options, we must be respectful and supportive. In doing so, we will maximize our collective effort to reach as many Jewish teens as possible, which is the ultimate goal of the Reform Movement’s Inspired Engagement initiative.

Thirty five teen leaders from NFTY and thirty five teen leaders from BBYO took this call to action very seriously when they met in Dallas this week to discuss the power and potential of working together. These teens, who hail from all across North America, spent time brainstorming and made a commitment to follow up with one another after the event. During this meeting, two young women – one from NFTY and one from BBYO – shared a bit about their backgrounds. They didn’t know each other, but to their surprise, they learned they were from the same Reform congregation! Both young women found enormous personal fulfillment and leadership opportunities from their participation in the two different youth groups. Now, they’re working together to think about different ways to engage even more of their peers.

I spoke about this partnership when I addressed the BBYO opening ceremonies, where I was greeted by incredible ruach from BBYO’s teens and their guests from

NFTY. In my remarks, I discussed the importance of celebrating both our similarities and our differences and of working together as a kehillah kedosha, a holy community. “We are part of something much larger than our respective youth movements,” I told them. “We are part of the Jewish people, past, present and future. The Jewish future depends on you feeling connected to and responsible for each other, not just for those in your youth organization. What you are discovering about Judaism this weekend could easily become the most important anchors in your lives.”

I shared with them a powerful example of a teenager who, just like them, made Jewish life a priority, despite the busy-ness of secular life. Jason Brown, a Reform Jewish teen from Chicago, is competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi this week. Jason has been a competitive skater his whole life, and in the midst of his training, he also spent five summers at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Wisconsin. Why? Because Judaism is a priority to Jason and his family – they realize that Judaism is part of their whole lives. I commended the teens in the room who, like Jason, have made time to deepen their connections to our people and heritage, as part of their many other commitments. And as I closed my address, I told them, “Remember, BBYO and NFTY, that we are stronger when we work together to expand our reach to even more Jewish youth. May our Jewish heritage and the Jewish community always be for you a sacred anchor especially “when the winds of changes shift.”.

Friday afternoon, our NFTY leaders left the BBYO convention and traveled to URJ Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, TX, where, for four days, 130 teen leaders from our 19 NFTY regions will take part in a leadership retreat and board meeting. While they’re there, they’ll be tasked with electing a new North American board and thinking together about plans for the future of NFTY – and of our Jewish community as a whole. These young people deeply understand that they are not youth leaders; they are full leaders of the Jewish community and poised to make major contributions now and far into the future.

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Building the Vision for a Jewish Future

Posted on 02/16/2014 @ 12:00 PM

As "millennials," it's not uncommon to hear people saying that our generation will have a lot of responsibility as we grow to take the reigns of our communities -- a monstrous national debt, climate change, and a rapidly fragmenting and yet infinitely connected world around us.

But alongside all those issues, if not entrenched in their resolution, lie a group of young people tasked with a mission of their own: Jewish teens, preserving the fortitude of the Jewish community for the next generation.

There's no question that the Jewish world may be in a dangerous place -- synagogue membership in decline, American Jews feeling disenchanted from mainstays of traditional Jewish community, and Israel facing widespread criticism. Not to mention the fragmentation of communities -- Reform, Conservative, Orthodox -- in a manner that sometimes resembles the schism our people faced prior to the destruction of our second temple.

And yet, despite all this, we're still here -- not just surviving, but celebrating spectacular successes. This weekend, BBYO managed to bring together nearly 2,000 teens from 20 countries. Out of diaspora, we've found a home. In distress, we've built comfort. But it doesn't just stop with us.

There are hundreds of thousands of Jewish teens in North America -- by the most optimistic of estimates, a third of them are touched by a formative Jewish experience (like camp or a youth moment) between the ages of 13 an 18, which could mean that by the time our generation takes the helm of the Jewish community, we're a third the size of what we once were.

But, thankfully, we have partners in this endeavor. This weekend, AZA and BBG welcomed NFTY (the Reform Jewish youth movement) teens to their largest International Convention ever for a "Mifgash," to discuss their partnership and larger mission of preserving the Jewish people for generations to come.

Mica Laber, a B'nai B'rith Girl from San Jose, CA, wrote the following about the experience:

The NFTY plus BBYO mifgash program at IC this year was not at all what I expected, and in the best of ways. It was really cool to meet Jewish teens who live close to me back home but that have had different Jewish experiences than I have. On the first day, we did some icebreakers, including "Jewish Bingo" where the BBYO teens had cards with NFTY acronyms and vice versa. Seeing the similarities between the two organizations first hand was eye-opening and made me realize just how important building and maintaining positive connections between all parts of the Jewish community is.

We met with the teens from our geographic area and brainstormed ways of connecting back home; the regions in California discussed overlapping programming for connections in the future. We compared and contrasted our two mission statements, along with discussing the Coalition of Jewish Teens' priority values. Overall, I'm thrilled to have been a part of the experience and hope it continues and grows in the future!

Our teens are excited, moved by the idea of having a greater mission than just the perpetuation of the place they call their heart and home.

Even in our Opening Ceremonies on Thursday we welcomed Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism. He spoke with conviction about the importance of empowering young people to take the reigns of the world they will inherit from his generation.

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He challenged BBYO and NFTY members alike to build a Kehillah Kedosha -- a holy community -- for the Jewish world to live in and use to make the world a better place.

"We are part of the Jewish people, past, present and future. The Jewish future depends on you feeling connected to and responsible for each other, not just for those in your youth organization. What you are discovering about Judaism this weekend could easily become the most important anchors in your lives." The core of why, as teens, we choose to remain a part of the Jewish world is the same reason why we've remained a tightly-woven tapestry for hundreds of generations before us. Our networks. Our friendships. Our community."

We are and will continue to be the most connected generation of our storied people -- and though we have many faces in many places, we remain one people, forever united in the pursuit of justice for us and generations to follow.

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The State of the Order: AZA and BBG are strong.

Posted on 02/16/2014 @ 10:00 AM

Last night, we opened our meetings with traditional rituals from both the order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the B'nai B'rith Girls. Nearly 2,000 teens from 20 countries put their arms around each other in the singing of Hatikvah to open meetings in common support of our homeland.

Mr. Mo Stein, speaking on behalf of Mika, left us all to consider that "Equal does not mean the same." The motive of our movement has become about finding what Judaism means to US, 21st century Jewish teens, not what it meant to our parents or grandparents.

As we moved into the State of the Order, we learned what our movement has done not only for us as individuals, but what it has done for our communities, as it did for Michaela and her family. As it did for Mika, who was able to rediscover his passion for the faith and literally find a new family. For Mika, Michaela and nearly 2,000 teens, it is those special instances that make Judaism meaningful.

In merely 10 years, we have moved from an International Convention hosted in a tent, to a convention that will be recorded as the third largest gathering of North American Jewry this year. If our movement could progress this much in 10 years, I dare all of you to imagine our order in 10 more years when we celebrate the centennial of the movement that has become a driving force for so many of us, the movement that has become a second home and the movement that will never cease to welcome us home.

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Michaela reminded us that "We are the builders of this house, not because we have to, but because we can." It is the members that expand the platform, strengthen the foundation and open the doors to our home, not just a unifying practice of the Jewish faith. We have created a Judaism defined by each of us, for each of us, making our religion the best thing that ever happened to us.

Following states, we came together to honor our advisors that work so tirelessly for us. While we appreciate all of our advisors, it is difficult to recognize all of them so we choose just a few to win the David Bittker Advisor of the Year award.

This year we awarded Kevin Friduss of BBYO Great Midwest Region (GMR) with AZA Advisor of the Year. BBG Advisor of the Year went to Stephanie Berlin Loovis of BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region (NTO), whose chapter, Sally Blum BBG #1924, went from founding to winning NTO's Best Chapter after a short four years. Tearfully, she reflected on her experience: "BBYO changed my life and it means the world to know that I may have changed a few, too."

For International Advisor of the Year, we recognized Ariel 'H' Merpert of Juventud Hebraica in Argentina.

Following awards, we inducted 85 international teens to our order, BBYO's largest international delegation at an international convention so far. At closing rituals, nearly 2,000 teens put their arms around each other once again, ready to welcome the 90th and 70th year of AZA, BBG and BBYO, ready to welcome you home.

Helen Enda, BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region, Member of the IC Press Corps

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A Shabbat with Nearly 2,000 Teens

Posted on 02/15/2014 @ 08:00 PM

After a quick break, the AZA BBG IC 2014 blog is back! Ever wondered what a Shabbat with 2,000 teens from 20 countries looks like? We'll let members of our IC Press Corps corps tell you:

Following an exciting opening ceremonies and an impactful day of service during BBYO Stand UP Day, AZA BBG IC 2014 participants put on their best Shabbat attire to celebrate the day of rest. The convention body flooded the lobby to gather for pictures and candle lighting before unplugging for the next twenty four hours.

We then traveled into the dining hall where all of AZA BBG IC 2014 joined together as a community for Shabbat dinner. Following dinner, participants had the option of choosing between a plethora of service options. These ranged from musical services led by the convention steelers and song leaders to services covering the topics of food, the Hebrew alphabet and The West Wing. As a pluralistic youth movement, each participant was able to find a service that coincided with their customs on Shabbat.

Following services, the convention body had multiple Oneg opportunities. I attended the Shabbat Summer Song Session where song leaders Eric Hunker, Happie Hoffman, Josh Goldberg, Mikey Pauker and Debra Winter led participants in songs commonly sung at BBYO Summer Experiences. Everyone was smiling, dancing and having fun, and it truly represented the theme of community that is so important on Shabbat.

After the Onegs, AZA and BBG split apart for separates, where BBG discussed the best way to utilize their voices and AZA explored the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.

Hayley Katzenstein, BBYO Southern Region: Atlanta Council, Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps

And now, a little bit more about Limmud and Havdalah:

Shavua tov BBYO! We just celebrated Havdalah here at IC and reflected on the exciting and insightful day we had this Shabbat. This morning after services we had four sessions of limmud, or learning, among them over one hundred choices.

With so many choices, every attendee truly made a custom Shabbat experience tailored to their own interests.

"Today's Limmud sessions were both vibrant and a great learning experience. I know I will be able to take the skills I learned today back to both my council and chapter." said Michael Cera from BBYO Mid-America Region: North Star Council. Guest speakers Miss Israel and Miss World Linor Abargil, former President of Starbucks Coffee Howard Behar, Fox Sports Producer Bob Steinfeld and many others led today's sessions.

Limmud was really a great way to celebrate Shabbat and explore the subjects that interest the nearly 2,000 convention attendees.

Nolan Hausler, BBYO Greater Jersey Hudson River Region: Central Council, Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps

Tonight, we will come back together for Havdalah to welcome in the new week and then listen to The State of the Order Address as given by Grand Aleph Godol Mika Stein and International N'siah Michaela Brown. Check back for more updates soon!

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Shabbat Shalom from BBYO Stand UP Day!

Posted on 02/14/2014 @ 05:15 PM

AZA BBG IC 2014 was up bright & early to hear from a variety of powerful speakers on their journey to make big impact in big numbers as a part of our BBYO Stand UP day. A member of our IC press corps shares her experience with the big day:

Following breakfast, the convention body gathered in the main hall. I had heard there would be a few speakers to prepare us teens for our BBYO Stand UP project, but I was not prepared for the powerful stories, life lessons, and of course, surprises, that were in store. The most powerful speaker, in my opinion, was Alina Spaulding, who shared the story of her journey from Russia to New York City. Her message was simple: she would not be here today without the help of Jewish leaders like us, and for that she is forever grateful.

Linor Arbagil followed with her inspiring story about speaking up after being raped, and the importance of talking with others about issues that are scorned by society. Throughout the morning, three teens took the stage to share inspirational stories of being up-standers in their communities: Shelby Curran (BBYO Gold Coast Region), Erik Roberts (BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council), and Micah Stalarow (BBYO Lonestar Region). They inspired me to take action in my community about issues that I am passionate about.

Nearing the end of the speeches, Dana Vollmer, an Olympic medalist, addressed the order by describing her success despite the adversity of having a heart condition. She even took a few minutes after her presentation to take some "selfies" with participants!

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As we thought the morning was coming to a close, The Buried Life cast came on stage and got us pumped for an awesome day of service!

We then proceeded to load onto 45 buses to join The Buried Life and the American Heart Association to learn and teach CPR, and film a Public Service Announcement, which would be used to encourage people to live heart-healthy lives and not stand idly by in case of an emergency. Check out this cool picture of all the action!

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Sara Miller, BBYO Wisconsin Region, Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps

@BBYOInsider and all of our social media presences will be taking a break to embrace Shabbat until Saturday night, but we wish you and your communities a Shabbat full of happiness, fulfillment and love all the way from Dallas, Texas!

Shabbat Shalom from AZA BBG IC 2014!

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Opening Ceremonies Recap

Posted on 02/14/2014 @ 09:00 AM

AZA BBG IC 2014 is well under way with more energy than ever before. Check out this recap of Opening Ceremonies from Camille Cooper of the IC Press Corps:

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A single word to sum up opening ceremonies: surreal.

My region, BBYO Eastern Region, like all of the other regions met up to plan strategies and practice cheers prior to entering the ceremony hall. Our presidents led us in planning how we were going to take the spirit cup and gavel -- by showing more excitement and energy than any other region in the movement! They told us Opening Ceremonies would be one of the craziest and most meaningful experiences of our BBYO careers, and that we should learn to embrace that excitement. However, none of what he said was able to do opening ceremonies justice.

All the regions began cheering and getting pumped up long before they took their seats around the stage, each in their own little bit of floor space in the common area. Suddenly, one by one the regions burst into the giant hall in high spirits, while members of the IC Teen Band performed their fantastic pieces. Everyone was dancing and singing along, and countless Alephs and BBGs flocked the stage in attempts to get closer to all the fantastic singers and musicians performing. The IC Team Band featured many popular songs including Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and Roar by Katy Perry -- all completely performed by Alephs and BBGS.

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Afterwards, representatives from BBYO Lonestar Region and BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region and members of the International Executive Board (I-Board), S’ganim Maya Guthman and Ryan Dishell, Grand Aleph Godol Mika Stein, and International N’siah Michaela Brown welcomed the almost 2000 Jewish teens home and to AZA BBG IC 2014, including a delegation of teens from NFTY.

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We were treated with appearances from major players in BBYO and its history -- like Ted Perlman, son of BBG's founder, Anita, or Lynn Schusterman, the driving force behind BBYO's Independence -- and other movers and shakers of the Jewish world, like Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operations Officer of Facebook and Founder of the Lean In Foundation, spoke about how her BBYO experience has shaped the work she does today in empowering women to take on any challenge presented to them and follow their dreams.

To all of our surprises and delight, we were even joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, who thanked BBYO for sending more teens to Israel than any other North American youth movement, and for our efforts to secure the State of Israel and Judaism around the world.

Following the introductions and opening speeches, all the council and regional Godolim and N'siot took to the stage representing their home regions in a hilarious parade of costumes and mini skits. Then, all the 20 international delegations were introduced, concluding with the Israeli delegation and a moving rendition of Hatikvah.

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The night’s activities were ended by a surprise performance by Aloe Blacc, who absolutely killed his set of four songs. Naturally a little dance party ensued until all teens were sent to their rooms for the night.

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Overall, AZA BBG IC 2014 Opening Ceremonies was an extremely special opportunity that will truly set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

Camille Cooper, BBYO Eastern Region: Virginia Council, Member of the IC Press Corps

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses BBYO International Convention 2014

Posted on 02/14/2014 @ 06:00 AM

Good Morning from Day 2 of AZA BBG IC International Convention 2014!

Last night at Opening Ceremonies, nearly 2,000 teens from 20 countries gathered for the first time for an amazing, inspirational and warm welcome to IC. There were a few highlights of the night that we'll update more about later, but the one we wanted to share first thing was the welcome address by Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Take a look at his message here:

Now, we are getting ready for our BBYO Stand UP Day Plenary and project in collaboration with the American Heart Association. Live streaming begins at 8:00 a.m. CST, and we'll be back at the IC Newsroom live streaming this afternoon before Shabbat.

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Pre-IC Experiences, Day 1

Posted on 02/12/2014 @ 10:00 PM

Today, hundreds of teens flooded into Dallas for our premier pre- AZA BBG IC 2014 experiences -- AZA BBG February Executives Conference, the first ever Jewish Enrichment Institute and the BBYO Connect Leadership Engagement Summit.

Members of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps were deployed to each of these conferences, and share the following reflections:

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"Approximately 70 teens came together to share ideas to build and grow BBYO Connect! We learned about the growth that BBYO Connect has brought into BBYO itself, the new position of Mekasher/Mekasheret, and how to make Connect more effective. Emily Mallman of BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region remarks, 'Learning and sharing our ideas is truly incredible, and knowing that you're doing it to improve and expand a global movement is what truly makes it remarkable.'"

Elizabeth Kaner, BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region, Member of the IC Press Corps

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Jewish Enrichment Institute

"As February Execs gathered today in Dallas, the first ever Jewish Enrichment Institute, or JEI, began. Participants at this inaugural summit are learning all about Judaism, Israel and bettering Jewish programming. Our summit started off by the participants being split into 12 tribes for the 'eXodus' Games where they will compete in over 40 challenges. "It's really exciting that we're going to learn how to make Jewish programming more exciting in less than a day, I can't wait to see what else happens!" says Sarah Wasserman, a junior from BBYO Ohio Northern Region."

JEI is set to be a fun, engaging program. Participants are pumped for the fun games ahead!

Emily Dworkin, BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region, Member of the IC Press Corps

AZA BBG February Executives Conference

The delegates of the 2014 International February Executives Conference of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and B'nai B'rith Girls are currently participating in the 90th anniversary legislation session, voting on motions, proposals and resolutions that will define the 90th year of BBYO. Last night, Execs attended hub meetings, the AZA BBG Annual Alumni of the Year awards dinner, the first part of the legislative session, and separates. As part of the legislative session, Execs aren't only going through the legislative motions, but also engaging in educational programs to learn about aspects pertinent to the motion, including learning about BBYO Stand UP week 2014 and Founders' Days 2014. As part of the proposal for AZA BBG Founders' Days 2014, Execs were honored to hear from Ted Perlman, son of Anita Perlman, who inspired Execs and discussed the past, present, and future of BBYO. The excitement is brewing here at the February Executive Conference and we can't wait to welcome all Alephs and B'nai B'rith Girls to Dallas, Texas!

Yosi Vogel, BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council, Member of the IC Press Corps

We're looking forward to welcoming everyone home to Dallas in just a few short hours -- B'ruchim Haba'im!

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Host City Pre-IC Festivities Recap!

Posted on 02/12/2014 @ 12:00 PM

As IC's big launch draws nearer, we look back at all of the fun things that helped us here in Dallas to prepare for the big occasion! Whether it was a crazy dance party, a big sports session at the JCC, or all of the global teens coming in to Dallas, pre-IC was a fun and exciting time for all.

The main event, the IC Launch Party, was a success and where many of the global teens could get to know the North-Texas Oklahoma (NTO) teens from Dallas. People got groovy on the dance floor and the music was bumping for hours. The next day, dozens of global teens met up at the JCC to play basketball and other sports with the teens in the local region. I can say from personal experience, the kids from Israel have a mean dodgeball throwing arm. After hours of intense sports, many global teens went to go have a Texas sized meal.

For the past week, tons of teens from abroad landed in Dallas and met their host families. Having all of the global teens here provided for an amazing week. The teens were shown what Dallas is all about -- around the city, including famous restaurants and other fun activities.

At Addison Conference Center, on Monday night, the Dallas community joined together and celebrated with international delegates from nearly 20 countries. It was very clear how thrilled the Dallas community was to have hosted the teens for the week. At the event, we were able to hear from international teens who expressed their gratitude for being welcomed into the host families and told us more about where they've come from. The highlight of the night was when everyone joined in unison signing Hinei MaTov and danced together around the room.

Dallas is very excited and pumped up to host this year's IC. Every school and person has heard about IC and Dallas is ready for everyone to be here. See you all soon!

Matthew Singer, North-Texas Oklahoma Region, Dallas, TX

Member of the AZA BBG IC 2014 Press Corps 

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Your AZA BBG IC 2014 Staff Arrive Safe & Sound!

Posted on 02/11/2014 @ 11:00 PM

Despite the weather, our 200+ AZA BBG IC staff members arrived in Dallas today, excited to begin what’s sure to be a spectacular upcoming week!

Upon arrival, the staff packed on to buses for a delicious Texas-style dinner at Eddie Deen’s Ranch and an introduction to the vision and goals for staff at BBYO’s biggest IC in our 90 years of history.

Matt Grossman, BBYO’s CEO, spoke about the power of seeing so many people together in one room and how far IC has come in his tenure – from being a gathering at the end of the summer of less than 400 people to an event drawing the attention of the global Jewish community and multiplying in size five-fold.

Ian Kandel, IC Director and Director of AZA, BBG, and the Teen Movement set the tone for the rest of the week with some fun activities to build a strong staff team. The staff is committed to making IC a welcoming home for every individual involved – from the nearly 2000 teens coming from around to the hundreds of professional staff, volunteer advisors, guest speakers and lay leaders that are joining us for the week.

Throughout the week, staff members will be wearing navy blue vests like the one in the picture below, to be available to any IC participant or guest who has questions.

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We’re looking forward to beginning our pre-IC conferences tomorrow, and welcoming the rest of our movement home on Thursday!

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2014-2015 International and Grand Board Candidates

Posted on 02/09/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Candidates for the 90th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph

90th Grand Aleph Godol Candidates:

90th Grand Aleph Godol: Sam Perlen

90th Grand Aleph Godol Candidate: Gabe Raskin

90th Grand Aleph Godol Candidate: Yinon Raviv

90th Grand Aleph Godol Candidate: Jonathan Revenson

90th Grand Aleph Godol Candidate: Alex Schwartz

90th Grand Aleph S'gan Candidates:

90th Grand Aleph S'gan Candidate: Noah Lew

90th Grand Aleph S'gan Candidate: Skylar Morley

23rd Grand Aleph Moreh Candidates:

23rd Grand Aleph Moreh Candidate: Noah Adelstein

23rd Grand Aleph Moreh Candidate: Bennett Essman

23rd Grand Aleph Moreh Candidate: Ziv Lotzky

23rd Grand Aleph Moreh Candidate: Alex Merritt

90th Grand Aleph Mazkir Candidates:

90th Grand Aleph Mazkir Candidate: Jake Nitzkin

90th Grand Aleph Mazkir Candidate: Daniel Roth

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidates:

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidate: Josh Frieser

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidate: Erel Israel

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidate: Herbert Meisner

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidate: Jonah Moore

26th Grand Aleph Shaliach Candidate: Matthew Roomberg



Candidates for the 70th International Board of the B'nai B'rith GIrls

70th International N'siah Candidates:

70th International N'siah Candidate: Amanda Freedman

70th International N'siah Candidate: Allison Lukas

70th International N'siah Candidate: Kate Reinertson

70th International S'ganit Candidates:

70th International S'ganit Candidate: Rachel Cohen

70th International S'ganit Candidate: Adrienne Frank

70th International S'ganit Candidate: Alyssa Leventer

23rd International Aym HaChaverot Candidates:

23rd International Aym HaChaverot Candidate: Gabby Mesnier

70th International Mazkirah Candidates:

70th International Mazkirah Candidate: Roni Rose

70th International Mazkirah Candidate: Josie Roth

26th International Sh'licha Candidates:

26th International Sh'licha Candidate: Brittany Bruck

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The Announcement You've All Been Waiting For

Posted on 02/09/2014 @ 04:00 PM

The announcement you've all been waiting for… We are so excited to share with you the amazing line-up of guests, speakers and performers who will be joining us in just a few days in Dallas at AZA BBG IC 2014!

The Official AZA BBG IC 2014 Trailer

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AZA BBG IC 2014 Fly-In

Posted on 12/16/2013 @ 09:00 AM

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Shalom BBYO,

Ryan and Maya here. We've recently returned from an intensive, productive and fun four days in Dallas, Texas! The air may have been freezing and the roads may have been icy, but the 89th and 69th boards had a great time coming together at our winter retreat. We celebrated Shabbat, discussed our Movement's plans and priorities for the rest of the year in depth and, of course, continued major preparation for AZA BBG International Convention 2014!

We arrived after a long day of travel on Thursday night. Before anything else, the entire board reviewed studies on the Jewish peoplehood as a whole, and discussed the importance of BBYO and how IC is the pinnacle moment to showcase our organization to the community.

On Friday, we sat down with members of the AZA and BBG Staff Team to discuss and review the entire IC schedule, focusing on the five pre-IC conferences, opening ceremonies, BBYO Stand UP Day, IC Limmud and Sunday night festivities. We can't even begin to tell you how excited we are for all of you to feel the magic that IC has to offer.

With more members in attendance from more countries than ever before, AZA BBG IC 2014 is truly going to be a welcoming home for every Jewish teen, anywhere.

As we continued our meetings, we were given programmatic updates from Natalie Spring, our IC Director of BBYO Stand UP Day. Each and every person sitting around that table was excited to hear more about our revamped day of service. This year, BBYO is proud to partner with the American Heart Association in order to engage even more people in acts of community service and advocacy than ever before. Stay tuned for more information to come.

On Saturday, we continued to go through each aspect of the IC schedule and atmosphere with Anita Bormaster, our Director of IC Programming. During this session, we accomplished a ton in regard to the amazing experience that all participants will have at IC. We brainstormed for Opening Ceremonies, organized the structure for this year's State of the Order, created a minute-by-minute schedule for Feb Execs and went over t-shirt designs.

Unfortunately, the weather did not allow us to check out the Hyatt Regency Dallas as a board. However, Maya's canceled flight allowed her to stay in Dallas for another day and visit the hotel, touring through hallways and seeing the ballrooms where our plenaries and sessions will be held.

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When driving into downtown Dallas, you can spot the magnificent hotel from miles away. The beautiful, sparkling glass covered building and Reunion Tower, the 15th largest building in Dallas, standing tall next to it make the hotel unmistakable in the the Dallas skyline. As you walk into the hotel, you are overcome with beauty. From the open atrium where you can look up and see the Texas sky, to the large, conference rooms where the magic of IC will take place, the Hyatt could not be a more perfect place for AZA BBG IC 2014.

We're beyond excited to continue preparation for IC, and we speak on behalf of the entire Steering Committee when we say we cannot wait for you all to see and feel the magic of International Convention!

Make sure to stay up to date with all things AZA BBG IC 2014 here on the blog and on Twitter through @AZABBG_IC and #AZABBGIC2014.

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See You in Dallas for IC 2014!

Posted on 02/18/2013 @ 09:30 AM

After five days, 11 meals, 71 Limmud sessions, and two invigorating elections, the 1500 delegates of International Convention 2013 are about to take their experience home. They'll share with their chapters new programming and recruitment ideas. They'll broaden their communities with their new understanding of global Judaism, and they'll inspire their friends to engage in BBYO Stand UP for compelling causes. But, their international experience isn't over.

Today, the BBYO movement begins our countdown to International Convention 2014 in Dallas! Hosted by the North Texas Oklahoma region, we will build upon the extensive success of IC 2013, featuring even more spirit, more music, more leadership development, more innovative Shabbat services, more community impact and more opportunities to connect with Jewish teens from all around the world – we can't wait to see you there!

P.S. Can't wait until next February to get more international action? Some of our summer programs still have room!

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Spirit Award Winners

Posted on 02/18/2013 @ 08:30 AM

As AZA BBG IC 2013 comes to a close it is apparent that each region brought unique and creative spirit to the International Order. Sunday night, the winners of the Max F. Baer Spirit Gavel and Anita Perlman Spirit Cup were announced and BBYO members were all intrigued to see who had won this year.

BBYO Big Apple Region BBG won the Anita Perlman Spirit Cup for the first time in history! It is clear they worked hard to plan successful spirit that stood out to the rest of the Order. From red clothing and accessories to dressing in IDF soldier apparel on Israel day and happily representing the grass root chapters on Sunday, BAR has shown many incredible things this weekend.

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BBYO Kentucky Indiana Ohio Region AZA was very excited to receive the Max F. Baer Spirit Gavel. Throughout the convention, KIO Alephs wore duck necklaces, ducs hats and tie dyed t-shirts. The boys were positive and outgoing with catchy cheers and vibrant outfits. The hard work put into the planning of KIO's sprint wear really paid off with the win of the Gavel.

Congratulations, all!

Written by Jolie Weiawsky, BBYO Big Apple Region, and Micaela Negreann, BBYO Rocky Mountain Region, IC Press Corps

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Hoodie Allen and Timeflies Close AZA BBG IC 2013

Posted on 02/18/2013 @ 08:00 AM

It was the perfect way to end the perfect weekend. Ever since Ryan and Hilit announced the performers at IC, everyone has been incredibly excited. Hoodie Allen and Timeflies did everything but disappoint.

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Crowds were lined up waiting to enter the ballroom an hour before the doors opened. Being on the shorter side, I was able to make my way to the front and see both performers up close. Hoodie Allen opened the show and was absolutely fantastic. Congrats, Mika, for winning the dance off!

Timeflies followed and he owned the stage. I'm sure the guests five floors up could hear the girls screaming (myself included) every time he reached out to touch our hands. I was one of the lucky ones and got to touch him not once, but twice - my night was made.

The concert ended with two bonus songs by Timeflies and, at that point, the girls had no voice and staff had no hearing.

Last night was by far the best end to the best International Convention BBYO has ever been a part of.

Written by Jill Curiwn, BBYO South Jersey Region, IC Press Corps

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Congratulations to the 89th Grand and 69th International Boards!

Posted on 02/17/2013 @ 06:30 PM

The 89th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph

Grand Aleph Godol: Mika Stein, North Texas Oklahoma Region
Grand Aleph S'gan: Ryan Dishell, Pacific Western Region
Grand Aleph Moreh, Jake Cook, Southern Region: Atlanta Council
Grand Aleph Mazkir: Daniel Widawsky, Big Apple Region
Grand Aleph Shaliach: Gary Levine, North Texas Oklahoma Region

The 69th International Board of the B'nai B'rith Girls

International N'siah: Michaela Brown, Northern Region East: NoVa Council
International S'ganit: Maya Guthman, Northern Region East: DC Council
International Aym HaChaverot: Kate Reinerston, Evergreen Region
International Mazkirah: Sofie Jacobs, Northern Region East: DC Council
International Sh'licha: Tracey Katz, Greater Jersey Hudson River Region

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The State of the Order

Posted on 02/17/2013 @ 06:00 PM

Saturday night served as a very important night here at AZA BBG IC 2013. It was not only the close of an incredible Shabbat, but it was also when Logan Miller, the Grand Aleph Godol, and Sarah Minion, the International N'siah, addressed the entire IC body. They told us about all of the amazing endeavors they’d championed over the past seven months.

The night started out with various awards that were given to teens in return for their hard work and dedication thus far in BBYO. Outstanding advisors were recognized for their hard work as well.

An incredible moment was achieved when ALL of the International Delegates were inducted into BBYO. It was so overwhelming to see their peers cheering them on in the crowd.

Once it was time for Sarah and Logan's State of the Order, both of their families spoke in honor of this milestone.

Over the past months, Logan and Sarah focused on international goals like globalization, commitment to Israel, program excellence and growing BBYO Connect. Logan emphasized that more chapters were created this year than any other year. They also added that they were hoping to start a summer program in the UK/Ireland. Sarah stated, "This is the moment our ancestors were waiting for."

At the end of the address, Logan and Sarah made sure we knew what the next step is: realizing where traditions come from and what we can do to create a brighter future for AZA and BBG!

Written by: Danielle Haft, BBYO Nassaul-Suffolk Region and Melissa Oxenhandler, BBYO Rocky Mountain Region, IC Press Corps

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