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Voting & Judaism

Posted on 11/05/2012 @ 09:40 PM

Before getting into the fundamentals of core election issues, one question sparked a thoughtful conversation. Seventeen-year-old Rosie Lenoff from Northern Virginia asked, “Why does my Judaism matter when it comes to voting?”

Elissa Koppel, 16 years old from Shorewood, WI, had a response. Elissa feels that “we’re raised as Jews with a certain belief system and are taught to take that belief system and express it to others. As Jews, we have a duty to help others and by sharing our beliefs via voting, we are helping them understand issues the way we do.”

Rosie listened to Elissa’s reply and later, when the question was brought up again, she said, “I am very passionate about my Judaism – I want to become a rabbi – but I believe in the separation of church and state. How can we say other people’s views are wrong when we as Jews are so proud of supporting certain sides of issues just because we are Jewish?”

This is just one of many examples where teens at Voice Your Vote have gotten the chance to voice their own opinions. More to come…

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Vote Your Voice 2012 Kicks Off in Cleveland

Posted on 11/05/2012 @ 09:33 PM

Today marked the first day of BBYO’s three-day Vote Your Voice Teen Summit in Cleveland, OH. Nearly 100 teens gathered from across the country to learn about and discuss election issues and how they relate to Jewish values. Four Teen Coordinators played integral roles in both the planning and execution of this unique and exciting event: Brad Honigberg, Sofie Jacobs, Sierra Lash and Gary Levine.

After a full day of animated political and social dialogue, the Teen Coordinators have some thoughts to share:

Brad Honigberg, 18 years old, from Mequon, WI was “pleasantly surprised at how knowledgeable people were about the issues and how open they were to hearing other sides. Even though there were differing opinions, there were no arguments.”

The best thing about today for Sofie Jacobs, 16 years old, from Rockville, MD was that “we were preparing ourselves for the work we’re doing tomorrow [with the Obama Biden and Romney Ryan campaigns] and exposing ourselves to new opinions that we may not have considered before.”

For Sierra Lash, 17 years old, from Oakland, CA, “the most exciting part of the day was, after coming from an extremely liberal background, talking to other Jewish teens with divergent opinions. It was really insightful to see how my peers interpret issues differently than I do.”

Gary Levine, 16 years old, from Dallas, TX was “pleased with how the participants were excited to be engaged. They were so passionate about everything. The programming went smoothly, too!”

Tomorrow, the teens will spend the entire day with the campaign of their choice, helping encourage Ohioans to get out and vote!

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Welcome to Panim el Panim!

Posted on 07/10/2012 @ 03:00 PM

Welcome to the Panim el Panim Blog!

At Panim el Panim seminars and programs teens from across the country meet, learn from and become friends with a broad network of Jewish teens from around the country. Together they receive advocacy training, participate in service learning and have the opportunity to lobby their elected officials on Capitol Hill, putting what they have learned into action. All Panim el Panim seminars include interactive sessions in which students relate Jewish texts and values to the world around them. In the 2012 - 2013 school year The BBYO Panim Institute is adding new and excited additions to the traditional Panim el Panim offerings.

Upcoming 2012 - 2013 dates include: November 11 - 14, 2012 Pluralistic Day School Seminar December 2 -5, 2012 Orthodox Day School Seminar February 17 - 20, 2013 Community Seminar March 17 -20, 2013 Community Seminar

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

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A Reflection on the 2012 HRGS Experience

Posted on 06/12/2012 @ 08:00 PM

Jewish teenagers sitting around a room talking about the Holocaust, sad but typical. Truth be told that the instance I am describing is anything but typical. To start the people present have come from all over, from DC to Florida, and Pennsylvania, to England. We're a small group of less than 30 teens, but the lack of size is made up for with an unexpected amount of sincerity and devotion to the matters at hand.

While the Holocaust was talked about and the students did take a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit visited was that of later genocides. For children raised in the mindset that atrocities do happen, and that we must remember and say “never again.” It was refreshing, but also devastating to see how never again reoccurred in places like Rwanda, Sudan, and Bosnia.

Going to the Capitol, lobbying with congressmen, participating in a congressional simulation, and being lectured on the politics of the United Nations, was one of the most disheartening, yet inspiring experiences. It proved that as the youth of the world, action is desperately needed. For some this might make the situation seem hopeless, but after listening to speakers on human trafficking, modern slavery, and child soldiers, it felt like to not care or want to help was impossible.

Throughout the course of the summit information was presented, but there was never a “right answer” given, allowing everyone to come to their own conclusion. Regardless of how we each identified politically we were all able to reach a middle ground while lobbying on Capitol Hill (something American’s politicians constantly fail to do).

For teenagers false advertising and cliched promotions are insufferable, but participating in the BBYO Human Rights and Genocide Conference helped prove to its participants that living in a country there are certain liberties guaranteed that many will never have, and that people must fight for what they believe in.

-Ashira Naftali-Greer, 2012 HRGS Participant

This is the Place for All of The Big EASY News

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Teen Coordinator Brett Krasner's HRGS Experience

Posted on 06/06/2012 @ 08:00 PM

What a summit it has been! From the minute that I first saw the BBYO HRGS 2012 poster in the hotel’s lobby up until exiting the hotel’s garage onto Georgia Avenue for the final time two days later, I had an amazing time at the summit, meeting new teens, lobbying my Senator’s staff, encountering new and sometimes horrifying subjects, and even learning the solutions to those topics. On the first day of the summit, Hannah Procell, Sara Strei, and myself asked the participants: “How will you break the cycle of inaction in our country?” I received answers to that single question in the form of blank stares and confused looks from the audience. Two days later, I was filled with pride to see so many teens (that previously had no clue what I was talking about) raise their hands with excitement and confidence in order to express how each participant was going to come back to their communities and carry back with them the ideals that they learned from this summit. Whether it be getting Froyo, Starbucks, Chipotle, Chinese food late at night, or lunch in DC together, getting cement sprayed on our clothes because we crossed a closed sidewalk, developing intense inside jokes, creating room rivalries, “Snapchatting” each other’s iPhones, or even just trying to stand upright on the Metro, we certainly bonded as a group of proactive Jewish teens. Even when we were learning about the worst catastrophes in history and how no one helped those that were oppressed, we still learned together and shared our thoughtful opinions together like we would with our own families and closest comrades. Each speaker, speaking on domestic and international issues, changed how we looked at the world and its events, and opened our eyes to things that we had never even known about prior to the summit. Coordinating this summit with Mikah, Hannah, Sara, and everyone else was a blast, and I could have not wished for anything more on my birthday on Tuesday than spending it with such an amazing group of teens and staff that I instantly bonded with. Remember to follow up with the ideas that you were so intent on following through with, whether it be following up with your Senator’s office, bringing what you’ve learned back to your communities, or even by raising awareness about human rights in your school. Thanks for such an amazing summit everyone and I hope to see you all at another summit! -Brett Krasner, CRE, age 17.

This is the Place for All of The Big EASY News

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