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Joyful Shabbat at August Execs

Posted on 08/13/2011 @ 09:00 PM

We hope that everyone had a restful and meaningful Shabbat! The Execs body enjoyed our time together in this special community and we are looking forward to closing out the program with as much enthusism as it started with!

Yesterday, after wrapping up a lot of AZA and BBG business, the Execs body prepared for Shabbat with a little Chofesh (free time) followed by Shabbat dinner and Kabbalat Shabbat services. After services, teens participated in a discussion on the important tradition of democracy in Judaism. As a full group, teens discussed four Judaic texts and grappled with how to interpret them in the modern world and as they relate to their roles as leaders.

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Here are the four texts:

It was clear that participants had strong feelings on these texts bringing up issues such how to define a "worthy person" and is it only "people of learning" who have responsibility to create change? Looking at all four texts together, a clear theme emerged that participatory democracy is encouraged in Judaism and the BBYO leaders have the ability to create real and lasting change around their issues of choice.

After the discussion, participants had a choice of a song session with musician Eric Hunker or a tish filled with singing and story telling with past Grand Aleph Godol, Jason Benkendorf.

Saturday was filled with services and additional business items such as launching BBYO Connect (BBYO's new, enhanced program for middle school students), developing additional program standards for chapters and passing a motion that amends the chapter charter system. All business items will be shared with the entire Order shortly.

As we speak, we are preparing to head to the National Mall for special AZA and BBG separates and a snack at the Lincoln Memorial. Stay tuned!

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August Execs from an Advisor Perspective

Posted on 08/13/2011 @ 08:00 PM

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Central Region West Advisor Noah Zaves shares his perspective on staffing August Execs:

It’s a new experience for me to watch my teens rise to international prominence. My former chapter Gadol has now become the CRW regional Gadol, and I’m watching him shine this weekend at BBYO’s international August Executives conference. Alex Finkelstein, growing from his roots in Oakland’s Dreidel AZA #2525, stood up yesterday in front of the entire Executives body with a candle representing Albania, in a program celebrating BBYO’s increasing global presence. Later, he presented and defended a successful resolution establishing a week for Stand Up, BBYO’s teen activism initiative.

For an advisor who’s been watching Alex preside over chapter meetings and coach our chapter executives, it’s a significant shock (though not a surprise) to see him stand out on the international stage. It’s even more of a shock to see the Grand Aleph Gadol and Grand Aleph Moreh, both from Central Region West, step into their new roles as leaders of the international movement.

The coolest part for me is to watch Alex build on the skills he developed in the chapter, as he takes an active role in the international business meetings, and to watch him gain new skills that he’ll bring back to the region after this conference. The international boards are presenting programming in a variety of styles, designed to inspire the regional presidents to expand their “tool box,” and critically examining the new international priorities. After Execs, I’m excited for CRW (and all of the regions) to diversify their regional programming.

I also got to share some of my own programming with the group. Yesterday, as the teens attended rotations with the leaders of several prominent Jewish organizations, I ran a session highlighting the difficult choices faced by Southern Jews during the civil rights movement. Based on the Jewish Women’s Archive’s new curriculum “Living the Legacy,” the program simulated a board meeting at a Jewish synagogue in 1964 Mississippi, as they decided whether to provide housing and assistance to a group of Jewish Freedom Riders. I was impressed by the caliber of the teens’ participation, and they surprised me with a few perspectives that I hadn’t before heard!

Most of all, as the only chapter advisor here, it’s been fun to experience the dynamics of international business. August Execs is the place where international policy is created and updated, and where the new I-Board trains the regional presidents to follow their vision for the year. The rest of the staff is regional Program Directors or international staff, who have regular interaction with the central office, but it’s been a real treat for me to see this side of the BBYO organization, and I’ve been inspired to continue volunteering for both regional and international programs.

Noah Zaves is the advisor of Dreidel AZA #2525 in Oakland, CA. By day, he is the director of the Institute for Modern Judaism, where he creates original, engaging lesson plans for a variety of Jewish settings, and runs programs about Jewish identity and American Jewish culture. Noah also consults with schools and organizations across the country to help make their programs more engaging and interactive.

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Teen Priority: BBYO Stands with Israel

Posted on 08/12/2011 @ 03:51 PM

The next item of business at August Execs was to focus on the teen priority of building a stronger commitment to Israel.

"During this seesion, AZA & BBG committed to rallying the world around supporting Israel and made it clear that wherever the organization stands, it stands with Israel," said Oz Fishman, Grand Aleph Godol. " Will be launching a signature campaign to gain first 5,000, then 10,000 then 18,000 signatures from people around the world and then take it to local representatives that our communities to show that teens care about Israel."

Read the official motion that just passed below:

Israel Advocacy Platform and Plan for 2011-2012

Maker: 87th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph & 67th International Board of the B’nai B’rith Girls Second: Jacob Levy (Eastern: Virginia), Kelly Szteinbaum (Central Region West), Emma Paikowsky , (Mountain), Zach Rosen (Wisconsin)

Whereas BBYO is the world’s leading pluralistic, Jewish youth movement; and

Whereas at all levels of our movement, BBYO has a commitment to supporting Israel and the global Jewish community’s relationship with Israel; and

Whereas BBYO saw a surge in popularity and implementation of the global pro-Israel advocacy campaign ‘Speak Up! for Israel’ in its inaugural program year (2010-2011); and

Whereas ‘Speak Up! for Israel’ will continue to grow in participation and significant impact as the program year begins; and

Whereas BBYO has had historic successes in supporting the State of Israel and the U.S./Canada-Israel relationship through advocacy efforts, fundraising campaigns and lobbying efforts including a 10,000+ signature petition delivered to the White House in 2006 requesting sanctions against Iran’s nuclear proliferation program; and

Whereas AZA’s and BBG’s Orders have matured significantly over the last five years allowing for an opportunity to further our advocacy efforts on behalf of the State of Israel;

Whereas Jewish teens – both those involved with BBYO as well as those involved across the entire community – have a voice;

Be it resolved that AZA and BBG are in support of the State of Israel:

Target Audiences

  1. As many teens (and those that support teen-led pro-Israel advocacy efforts) as possible with benchmark goals of 5,000, 10,000, and 18,000 signatures through online and in-person collection by January 1st, 2012.
  2. A minimum of 36 high school (public, private or Jewish) student body presidents displaying support for the U.S./Canada-Israel relationship.
  3. The petition will be organized by residential location of each signature and editions will be sent to elected representatives correlating with impressive digests expressing support for this key issue and will be submitted for print in community newspapers/news outlets.

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Teen Priority: Globalize the Movement

Posted on 08/12/2011 @ 03:49 PM

One of the teen priorities for the 2011 - 2012 year is to continue the globalization of BBYO, bringing Jewish teens from around the world closer together. With BBYO on an exciting path for expansion, this past International Convention saw teens from more than 11 countries from as far as Argentina, Serbia, Ireland, England, Bulgaria, and Israel. Additionally, through a partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), BBYO has placed four alumni in positions around the world as JDC Service Corps Fellows who work to bring a BBYO experience to local communities.

Watch a video on the current four JDC Service Corp Fellowship below:

Before passing the motion below to expand BBYO's global reach to Ukraine and Latvia, BBYO skyped in an Albanian teen named Besos, who participates in the BBYO programs in Bulgaria and Serbia. Teens asked questions live and we videotaped Besos discussing what being Jewish means to him which you can watch below:

Then, August Execs participants passed the official motion below. Stay tuned throughout the weekend as we'll continue to pass official business as it finishes.

BBYO/JDC Overseas Partnership Expansion Recognition Act: Ukraine and Latvia

Maker: 87th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph & 67th International Board of the B’nai B’rith Girls Second: Austin Goodman (Michigan), Sarah Minion (South Jersey), Harper Weissburg (Eastern: North Carolina), Yitzi Peetluk (Cotton States)

Whereas BBYO is the leading global Jewish pluralistic youth movement; and

Whereas BBYO has affiliates and membership communities around the world; and

Whereas relationships amidst leaders, initiative collaboration and meaningful communication are increasingly frequent, productive, unifying, and effective; and

Whereas the presence of BBYO teens from beyond the United States and Canada are increasingly active participants at BBYO international programs and summer experiences; and

Whereas the world is increasingly ‘smaller’, the current membership is a more global-centric generation than ever before, and more Jewish communities abroad are seeking affiliation with BBYO; and

Whereas there is a long standing history of decades of depth-oriented relationships, shared experiences, international atmosphere at summer programs; and

Whereas the international aspect of BBYO has always been and remains to be one of the most unique attributes of our organization; and

Whereas the JDC is a powerful force for maintaining and building Jewish communities around the world; and

Whereas, our modern day relationship with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has progressed since 2006 and BBYO has become a central teen partner agency for the JDC;

Be it hereby proclaimed that based on the organizational partnership developed and formalized by the JDC and BBYO, we celebrate the four existing BBYO communities that will participate in the JDC/BBYO fellowship program (Israel, Turkey, Serbia, and Argentina); and

Be it further recommended that we proudly welcome Latvia and Ukraine into the BBYO family as official global affiliate countries as a result of the JDC/BBYO partnership; and

Be it further recommended that the 2011-2012 Global Ambassadors Network add two ambassadors to help grow and support the Jewish teen experience and BBYO affiliates in Ukraine and Latvia.

We're very excited for this exciting expansion of the BBYO community!

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One for All Issue Summit is Coming

Posted on 08/12/2011 @ 03:47 PM

August Execs participants were the first to hear about BBYO's newest Issue Summit, One for All.

On November 13 - 15, 2011, teens from across the United States are invited to Boston, Massachusetts, to take part in an extraordinary experience – One for All: A Jewish Teen Issue Summit on Equality.

Participants will spend 3 tackling issues surrounding equality: race, religion, ability, class, and gender & sexuality.

For three days in Boston, a diverse group of Jewish teens will come together to learn about issues facing society and equality.

They will hear from activists, meet with speakers, and most importantly, they will walk away from this Jewish Teen Issue Summit with increased knowledge about civil rights and equality, enhanced skills as a community leader, and a greater understanding of their own civic responsibility.

Click here to learn more about the One for All Issue Summit.

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