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February 2013 Panim el Panim

Posted on 02/18/2013 @ 11:51 AM

Tags: pep

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participant, Anya Steinhart, United Synagogue of Hoboken, in Hoboken, NJ.

On Sunday, we started our amazing Panim el Panim experience. We heard from speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless. Everyone was really moved by their stories. They told us about their own homelessness experiences. They also explained to us that homeless people aren’t all crazy, and their homelessness experiences had to do with a lot of mistakes that happened in their lives. Their stories were very touching, and it made me feel differently about homeless people and how we should treat them.

Afterwards, the seminar split up into two groups and went to two different evening activities. I went to walk around the monuments. It was really cold outside, but walking around the monuments at night was really cool. My personal favorite was the Lincoln memorial. It’s really beautiful at night.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!


Day 1 November 2012 Panim el Panim

Posted on 11/12/2012 @ 11:51 AM

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participant, Helyn Steppa, Beth Tfiloah Dahan Community Day School in Baltimore, MD.

I’m sitting in my hotel room reflecting on the day I’ve had.  It started for me when the Beth Tfiloh mini- bus arrived at the Hyatt.  We plopped our luggage in one room and gathered for our introductory meeting in another.  All the participants discussed identity and how that corresponds with the way we approach issues. This discussion confirmed by belief that people often forget that liberals and conservatives are just voicing different ways to solve the same problems.  Sometimes we get caught in the partisanship when we should be focusing on the situation, it’s not about winning, it’s about solving.

The pinnacle of the Panim experience for today was the “Faces of Homelessness” presentation given by speakers from National Coalition for the Homeless. We met two men who had overcome homelessness: one who came from a typical middle- class family and one who came from what he called the “Hood.” The first man said that he felt overconfident in his independence and capability to live with only a GED that he decided not to go to college. However, when he lost his job and his house burned down he was stuck in an unexpected predicament. The second man had a bit too much ego as a teenager as well but what he didn’t have was self- esteem and positive guidance. This led to a decades long addiction to drugs and alcohol causing him to lose jobs, cars and houses continuously. What I liked especially about the second speaker was that he encouraged us to know who we are and maintain our convictions even if that causes unpopularity.

Today was great and I think I’ve been reminded how important common humanity and kindness truly is. I’ve learned the power of the smile and outstretched hand.

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!


Reflections & Last Moments

Posted on 11/07/2012 @ 10:50 AM

After all of the canvassing, after all of the anticipation, the Voice Your Vote Summit is coming to a close. On this last day of a whirlwind experience, the teens are voicing their reflections.

For eighteen-year-old Ethan Sills from BBYO Ohio Northern Region, “This was different than any other BBYO experience. It was great because it gave us a chance to do something outside of BBYO, but still together. I finally realized we were doing something special when someone told us that she needed a ride to the polls a half hour before closing time and we were able to set that up for her. It made me feel like we made a difference to at least one person.”

Michaela Brown, seventeen years old from BBYO Northern Region East, was appreciative of this opportunity. “It was the first time I’ve really gotten involved in a political campaign and, especially since I’m so busy at home, it was special to do this with my friends. I think what was really cool about last night was, normally when you go to an election watch party, you’re with only people form your own state. Here, people from all across the country were together rooting for their own states. It was a really unique experience.”

One of the four Teen Coordinators of Voice Your Vote, seventeen-year-old Sierra Lash of BBYO Central Region West says, “As Teen Coordinator, it was amazing to see my peers of different political backgrounds learning so much – whether they came in with a wealth of knowledge or not. During my time at our designated campaign hub, I felt uplifted. It was incredible to see how individuals from around the country had taken months out of their lives to be stationed in a swing state just for the sake of getting out the vote, and it was really cool to see BBYO teens following their example. On a more personal note, I was invested in this election. When it came down to it, Ohio was a deciding factor and I feel that my time here contributed to the nation’s decision.”

The teens spent their last day with Frankie Goldberg, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor and past International Doveret, who spoke about her political involvement and how to stay civically engaged.


After lunch, the teens will go their separate ways until they convene again in Washington, DC for International Convention.


Meeting Romney & Ryan

Posted on 11/06/2012 @ 09:15 PM

The BBYO teens who chose to campaign for the Romney Ryan camp had the unique experience of meeting them in person. While the team was making calls at the hub, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stopped by to show their appreciation for their supporters.

Romney made his way through the crowd talking to people, shaking hands with and signing t-shirts:


Ryan stopped to meet, shake hands and take pictures with as many people as possible. Ari Johary, 17 years old from BBYO Lonestar, snapped a shot:


After meeting Romney, Gary Levine, 16 years old of BBYO North Texas/Oklahoma, said, “It was one of the most amazing political experiences I’ve had in my life. Going door to door and making phone calls endorsing Romney was a memorable experience because I was able to talk to people who had something in common with me. All in all, though, the greatest part was meeting Mitt Romney and shaking both Romney and Ryan’s hands. I was shocked and thrilled that I was able to be so close to them.”


A Day of Canvassing

Posted on 11/06/2012 @ 08:34 PM

The second day of Voice Your Vote consisted of a full day of canvassing for both candidates. The teens chose which candidate they wanted to campaign for in advance and were split up into teams to cover as much ground as possible. The mission today was not to persuade people to vote for one candidate or the other, but rather to get out the vote.


Romney Ryan campaigners


Obama Biden campaigners

Jeremy Witchel, 15 years old of BBYO KMR chose to canvass for the Obama Biden campaign and felt extremely passionate about today’s experience:

“It was a really meaningful experience because I never thought about politics. All of my friends have political debates, and I didn’t know how to get involved. After this, I feel I can actually participate in discussions. I learned a lot about how politics work and the Electoral College. It was nice to see my actions from door to door reflect the actual election.”

Casey Lampert, 15 years old of BBYO NTO, who worked on behalf of the Romney Ryan campaign, had her own sentiment to share:

“Before coming here, I only knew that I did not want the incumbent to be reelected, which is why I chose to campaign for the opposite candidate. After working with Romney’s supporters, I actually feel like I do support him. It gave me a better grasp on the issues in a way that I fully understood as opposed to the way they are presented on TV, which are not accessible to teenagers.”


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