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The Global Jewish Youth Movement

Posted on 04/11/2013 @ 03:30 PM

Tags: The Global Jewish Youth Movement

From the teachers who educate us to the teen leaders who inspire us, it’s been said a thousand times: “BBYO is not a Jewish youth group. It is a global Jewish youth movement.” This passion for the global BBYO community, coupled with new technology to make these connections possible, inspires chapters the world over to push globalization forward.

However, when chapters and regions are already committing time and money to scholarships, their BBYO Stand UP causes and chapter savings, it’s understandable to be apprehensive about another commitment. Across the continent, BBYO asks its regions for pledges to the International Service Fund (ISF), the fund that allows BBYO to provide Jewish teens around the world with these incredible leadership development and Judaic enrichment opportunities. At present, not everyone on the chapter level or the council/regional level understands how that money impacts the lives of Jews worldwide… but it does. Globalization, in terms of BBYO, is the advancement of global Jewish peoplehood; it is the furthering of world Jewry; it is the future of Judaism worldwide. ISF provides enriching Judaic experiences to teens deprived of their culture on a global scale.

As an American, I (Dan Widasky) take my right to be Jewish for granted; elsewhere in the world, it is by no means a right. In some places, it is dangerous to be Jewish. ISF and global efforts combat the attempts of European governments and local anti-Semitics to stifle Judaism; they bring a forgotten heritage to teens that are otherwise not in touch with their Judaism; they allow for a universal Jewish people.

I (Sofie Jacobs) understood the universality of the Jewish people at my JCC the Monday before IC. The teens attending IC from countries outside of North America had gathered there that night with NRE: DC Council for “Operation Host City,” for a welcome and kick-off event. That night, the JCC was peppered with accents and languages from all over the world. The sounds stood out against the bland walls I have seen every Monday night for the past three years, yet the accents and languages blended into the American teens’ dialect as teens talked. We bonded over a shared passion for advocacy, Israel, sisterhood and brotherhood and being a part of BBYO, no matter where we were from.

When we realize we are all part of one global Jewish community – when we connect with teens no matter what continent they live in – we are part of a movement that is creating Jewish community around the world. We are advancing Jewish peoplehood.

Dan Widasky and Sofie Jacobs
Incoming International Mazkirim

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