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Memories and Self-Reflection at August Execs

Posted on 08/16/2013 @ 02:25 PM

As Shabbat approaches, BBYO’s top teen leaders from across the Order will convene for the annual August Execs at Capital Camps in Waynesboro, PA. At this time, they will start to envision their goals and plans for the year to come.

Last year, even before I officially joined the BBYO staff, I was invited to observe August Execs and somewhat reluctantly made the drive to Capital Camps, but I’m so glad I did! My memories of that trip are still very motivating for me: I was inspired by the teens’ and staff shared dedication to making a difference for the Jewish people and for the broader community.

My personal inspiring memory pales in comparison to the myriad memories BBYO creates for teens in everything we do. I am overwhelmed as a Director of Community Engagement with the sheer volume of recollections about friendships, conventions, traditions, and personal growth in confidence, skills, and knowledge our teens are experiencing.

You may already know (I just learned recently) that we are currently in the month of Elul. As we approach the High Holidays, we are asked to take personal inventory and reflect on our memories and behaviors of the past year. For which of our actions should we ask forgiveness? Called “Cheshbon Ha’Nefesh ,” it helps us to prepare to ask for forgiveness and to be sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year.

Consider the countless memories and experiences from this past year. Some of them you may freely share with friends, family, and colleagues. Others may be much more privately held and rank among the behaviors that fall squarely into the Ashamnu prayer for confession and contrition we say on Yom Kippur.

As BBYO staff, we are dedicated to creating “more meaningful Jewish experiences.” Certainly, at each convention, Shabbat service, and Connect event, BBYO endeavors to ensure that the teens have opportunities to learn, reflect, socialize, and grow. As soon as the teens leave, however, the meaningful Jewish experiences end. What is especially valuable is the memories we help them create through these BBYO events. It’s through this catalogue of memories that they will carry BBYO and their Jewish heritage with them for many decades to come.

May this Shabbat in Elul, as we prepare for our holiest holidays, bring you a chance to reflect on your memories of the past week and the past year.

This Shabbat message was written by Cheryl Kagan, Director of Community Engagement for the Mid-Atlantic Hub.

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