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We Are a Part of Something Special

Posted on 07/02/2014 @ 11:19 AM

For the past six days, I have had the pleasure of making a home at Perlman. From connecting with other Jewish teen leaders from around the world, to taking part in deep discussions on membership and Judaism, my time so far at ILTC has been a dream come true.

Today in our morning Limmud sessions, we discussed the importance of team building, trusting those around us, and understanding interpersonal relationships. Throughout the day, this idea took root in all our activities. The moment that I truly felt the magic of Perlman and this community was during our Limmud discussion when our educator said to us, "I don't feel the connection. Dig deeper. Get more personal." While the statement was so simple, it served as a catalyst for one of the most meaningful and personal conversations I have ever been a part of. Right after our educator said that, my group and I were discussing moments in our lives when we needed support from our friends. Participants felt open to share so much about themselves even though we barely know one another. The bond created through that dialogue was unbelievable.

That Limmud session truly illustrated to me the magic of ILTC. I did not know many of the people coming into ILTC, but our existence at Perlman has created an unexplainable bond.

Talia Weseley Connecticut Valley Region #17

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CLTC 4 Has Begun!

Posted on 07/02/2014 @ 12:45 AM

Hello CLTC 4! We are your CLTC 4 coordinators, Devo Hanai (BBG coordinator) and Cole Margol (AZA coordinator). Today was the first day of CLTC and we, along with our amazing staff, have been working hard preparing since Sunday. But the glorious day has finally arrived! The buses rolled in around 4 PM with excited kids from all over the United States. Walking on the bus and seeing all the kids excited faces really made the start of the program real. After everyone settled in, we brought them all out to the Gazebo for dorm orientation. They found out who their chapter staff is and the classrooms where they will be learning. Dorm orientation was exciting because everyone was walking down the halls looking at past chapter banners (including Cole’s) knowing that their banners would soon be hanging up leaving their mark on Bethany for years to come. Next, everyone went on a tour of the campus. Conquering Bethany’s infinite hills, it was amazing to see everyone walk with at least someone they didn’t know and introduce themselves. It was so great to see everyone already trying to connect to the people around them. We concluded our tour at the dinning hall where we had flag lowering. Because of Canada Day today we had the Canadian Flag flying as well as the Israeli Flag to represent the three teens that killed. Later that night we had our welcoming video and a very fun and loud song session with our song leader, Stephen, and moved into icebreakers. It was so great seeing all the teens really connecting and getting to know one another. We know that there is still more connecting to do, but the first day has been great! We finished the night with a friendship circle, which is just a time for us to sum up the day and set the mood for nighttime. First day was a success and we can’t wait to see how the rest of the session goes!!

Love, Devo and Cole

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ILTC Ceremony for Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal

Posted on 07/01/2014 @ 04:48 PM

During lunch, everyone was in the dining hall talking with their friends like a typical day at ILTC. One of our staff members got on the microphone for an announcement. We assumed he was going to say something about the next program or what was happening this afternoon. What he shared was much more important than anything going on in that moment. The three missing Israeli boys, who our community has been praying for and thinking about everyday, were found—not alive. The room fell silent; everyone was shocked. We all felt a deep sadness for the Israeli boys, their families, and for the Jewish people.

At night, we gathered as a community so that we could honor the boys through a memorial service. Led by Sofie and Dan (the teen coordinators) and the five Israeli Madrichim, we sang, prayed, and even inducted the three Israeli boys into the International Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph so they will forever be remembered as a part of our brotherhood. The atmosphere was filled with sorrow and support, truly bringing out the strong community that we have here at ILTC. Even though we are thousands of miles away from this tragedy, we still feel a strong connection with the three boys, their families, and the Jewish people.

The tragedy made us even prouder of our Judaism and gave us the inspiration to continue to strengthen the Jewish people.

Alex Myers Melech AZA #2461 Northern Region East—D.C. Council #54

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Israeli Exploration

Posted on 07/01/2014 @ 02:15 PM

On Monday, the teens at CLTC learned skills on decision making in their classrooms while figuring how to turn all situations into a win-win scenario. They then continued to prepare for the programs that all mock chapters will be running and leading over the next two days. The participants got to choose different skills that they wanted to learn in different rotations such as Israeli dancing, video editing, platform making, and speech writing and giving. Loving her experience in the Rikkudim rotation, Sam Sinder of Kentucky Indiana Ohio says, "I learned a lot about Israeli dancing and I can't wait to take it back to my chapter." The CLTC community later gathered to have a ceremony and reflection on our three lost Israeli boys. "It was really special how we came together as a community to honor the three boys and it made us closer," Madeleine Bendalin of Rocky Mountain Region shares. To finish off the night, a Knesset program was run to educate everyone on Isareli's government and politics and an Israeli fair was held to introduce different parts of Israeli culture to the teens. "It was really interesting to learn about the political parties and their relations," Joel Zishuk of North Florida Region states while learning about the workings of the Israeli parliament.

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What About You? A Look at Hebrew Senior Life

Posted on 06/30/2014 @ 05:00 PM

My name is Brandon Nussbaum, and I'm volunteering at Hebrew Senior Life. During havdallah, we discussed our futures in our community service lives after IMPACT: Boston is over. Despite this, the future for the residents at Hebrew senior life is not so bright. They have already lost a majority of their families, and soon, unfortunately, they'll follow their families' footsteps.

Our mission at Hebrew Senior Life is to guarantee as bright of a day and as bright of a future as we can for them. This includes playing games, watching movies, creating artwork and initiating conversations about their past lives. I've personally had experience working with seniors as musical entertainment, but never really communicated with them one on one.

I communicated and made connections with many different seniors this week, some of whom keep surviving in their 90s and even their 100s, some who deal with memory issues such as Alzheimer's and some who always have a smile on their face and behave as if nothing could ever go wrong. I've learned how to build connections with an older generation. I've learned communication skills such as attentive listening and asking appropriate questions. I’ve learned how simple it is to make their entire day just by smiling, shaking their hand or saying "hello." But most importantly, I've learned this: senior citizens may be old and very different from teenagers, but they're just as human.

In society, there should never be a gap between black and white, abled and disabled, or young and old. Senior citizens have so much to provide to our young generation and deserve as much respect as anyone else. Creating a connection with the elderly is just as significant as creating a connection with the person you're currently sitting next to in your circle group.

When I return to my home city of Dallas, I'm going to ensure that I treat all senior citizens with the care, treatment and respect as they deserves.

But it's not just about me. What about you?

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CLTC 3 Continues

Posted on 06/30/2014 @ 02:15 PM

Today at CLTC, the participants continued to learn more about specific BBYO leadership skills as teens learned about using folds in programs and writing program outlines, while everyone got to choose two specific board positions that they wanted to learn more about in rotations. "It was informative to learn how other chapters run," Carli Shapiro of Wisconsin Region explains as she recalled everything she learned in her chapter leadership session. Describing her favorite part of the day, Gabby Plotkin of Rocky Mountain Region said, "going to the chapter officer skill builder sessions motivated me to improve my chapter at home." The chapter boards and members took charge as they then continued to plan their programs, fundraisers, Shabbat program, and spirit in chapter planning time. The teens continued to bond as they had a mini song session while laying down on the grass during chofesh. We ended off the night with an extremely meaningful and moving March of the Living program and friendship circle. "The March of the Living program really inspired me to continue on the legacy of the holocaust survivors," Jamie Kotler of Northern Region East- DC Council said as she thinks about some of the loved ones she has lost in the Holocaust.

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My First Perlman Shabbat

Posted on 06/30/2014 @ 12:48 PM

This past weekend, we celebrated our first Shabbat here in Lake Como and I had a unique, eye opening experience. I am not a very religious person and I am certainly not one to celebrate Shabbat every Friday or follow Shabbat guidelines. However, I had a revelation while here at Perlman—in this environment, I should try to immerse myself in Shabbat because now is the time to try something new. Alongside the new family I have created, I celebrated and practiced Shabbat for the first time. I relaxed and enjoyed my Shabbat experience attending powerful services and not using my phone.

I participated in a two inspiring Shabbat electives, one of which was "Why We Do What We Do", led by Ian Kandel (Director of AZA & BBG). We discussed why we exist, what our purpose is as Jewish teens, why we should not give up on Judaism, and why we must ensure teens stay in the Jewish community post Bar/Bat Mitzvah. After that elective, I joined Ryan Ladd (Madrich) in a discussion about what we don't talk about when we talk about community service. We covered topics such as why we feel the need to volunteer when sometimes it is not needed, and why we need to educate ourselves before volunteering. Both electives were informative and helpful. I look forward to bringing these conversations back to my community when ILTC is over.

Shabbat in general is an incredible experience, but Shabbat at Perlman is magical. I will remember this Shabbat for a long time.

Amanda Iserson Nesichot BBG #2507 Gold Coast Region #51

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Weekend's Recap

Posted on 06/29/2014 @ 08:00 PM

As the sun fell closer and closer to the horizon, everyone at IMPACT: Boston began preparing for Shabbat. Dressed in our best, we took pictures with one another and walked down the long hill to the Sherman ballroom. The theme for Shabbat was “Past, Present, and Future.” The past represented what us teens have done either this past week at our sites or what we’ve done personally in the past. The present represented what the participants are going to do at their sites after Shabbat. And the future represented what we will do after they return home from IMPACT. It was a wonderful Friday night, filled with laughter and relaxation, thanks to the Shabbat Atmosphere Group. one of the many Shabbat planning groups.

The next morning, everyone got to sleep in a bit later than usual. The teens could either choose from a traditional/meditation service or a nature walk service. Both services went well, and after lunch, we all enjoyed a restful menucha. Teens and staff relaxed, talked with friends, walked around; there was even a rousing game of ultimate Frisbee on a nearby field. Afterwards, the teens got to choose two Shabbat electives from a slew of options like Jews in the Media, Mistaken Identity, and Musical Memory!

Following the Shabbat electives and dinner came Separates, a program where AZA (males) and BBG (females) separate into two different programs. Separates is a program that focuses on the brotherhood for AZA and sisterhood for BBG. The guys’ separates was oriented around facing our problems in our lives and strengthening the bond we have with each other while the girls’ separates focused on stopping the use of the r-word, and “Spreading the word to end the word.” Both went extremely well, and proved very effective. Following a lovely Havdallah service, cheer sessions erupted, truly embodying the passion of AZA and BBG. To end the night, we celebrated in style with a “Peachy Party”, exciting the teens for AZA BBG IC 2015 in Atlanta, GA.

On Sunday, each connection group spent three hours preparing a presentation for Monday, on one of the five texts they studied last week. We thought of new and creative ways to teach our texts to the other teens without simply restating what we already learned. Later, we all piled onto the buses to head into town to listen to the Public Voices in Charlestown. There were four speakers who told their stories of dealing with homelessness. We learned how they came back from their very challenging circumstances and how they dealt with their life choices. Once that finished, we all headed to Harvard Square and enjoyed the evening there.

The first week of IMPACT: Boston is done and we only have a few days left. We have done some incredible things at our service sites and learned a lot, but we’re still not done yet. Still, there’s a lot left to do and a lot of fun left to be had. IMPACT has been fortunate to have an amazing group of participants this year, along with an amazing staff.

Cameron Smith (North Texas Oklahoma Region), Teen Coordinator 

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See You Later CLTC 2

Posted on 06/29/2014 @ 05:48 PM

CLTC 2 has come to a close and we are all on our way home. The past 12 days have been absolutely incredible and we feel so fortunate to have been able to spend time with over 90 passionate teens. All of the chapters lead such insightful programs, services, and raised hundreds of dollars for great causes. Watching our community form so quickly was so inspiring and we look forward to seeing what the teens accomplish in the future. Some of the most memorable moments would definitely include our international inductions, friendship circles at night, and free time with our friends. CLTC is a place where BBGs and Alephs come to enhance their leadership skills and make life-long friends, but we know that they accomplished all of that and so much more. We want to thank everyone for making us confident in the future of our Order and making us so proud!

Fraternally submitted with undying love for CLTC 2 2014, We forever remain, Amanda Gladstone and Jacob Brown

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Top 5 Things I’ve Learned in the First 24 Hours at ILTC

Posted on 06/27/2014 @ 06:09 PM

1. You wouldn’t believe the amount of program choices. Yesterday we all were able to request our top choices for Chugim (electives), and today we went to our first session of the one we were assigned to. I went to song writing, while my friends have been to creative writing, A capella, Rikkudim (Israeli dancing), Media, Hebrew, and more! Then we also got to choose a “How-To” session where we learned about a specific aspect of BBYO Leadership.

2. Everyone wants to be friends with everyone. it is almost impossible to walk from one place to another without making a new friend. Whether you connect through a mutual friend that they met on CLTC or the fact that you both do theater at home, there is something you have in common with everyone. Since we switch around groups so often, you get separated from the people you knew from before, which almost forces you to make friends!

3. You won’t only be friends with teens; you’ll be friends with staff too. The Madrichim (counselors) and staff members are here for the same reason—they love BBYO! They are so approachable and fun to be around that you can’t help but be best friends with them.

4. The food is pretty good. In the three meals we’ve had so far, I’ve been happy to eat all of them! From the fantastic vegetarian chicken nuggets to the grilled cheese dipped in tomato soup, every meal has been tasty and filling. Even I (a vegetarian), have been very content with the choices.

5. I can hardly wait for the next two and a half weeks. The best of ILTC has yet to come. I can hardly wait to learn more and grow as a leader in the 16 days to come. If my first 24 hours are any indication of the rest of ILTC, it will not be anything short of amazing.

Leah Sherin Great Midwest Region Korczak BBG #849

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Breaking Down Misconceptions at Charles River Center

Posted on 06/27/2014 @ 06:00 PM

When we first got our site assignments, I was upset, terrified, and I wanted to switch. And now, I would have rather done nothing else. At the Charles River Center we worked with people who had developmental disabilities. Notice how I wrote that "people with disabilities." This was the first thing we learned before we even went to Charles River Center; they are people first and the condition comes second. We made lists of words we should and shouldn't say when referring to people with disabilities. Apart from the R-Word, we said that words like psycho, crazy, and handicapped were all to be avoided. Somebody's probably wondering why handicapped isn't okay so I'll give a quick explanation. In the past, people with disabilities weren't given jobs and resorted to begging for money with a cap in their hand. Cap in hand. Handicapped. Yeah, it's messed up.

After we had an orientation meeting with a staff member, we went to where they took care of kids of ages 6-21. Each of these kids have qualities that made them unique. Not just the disabilities they live with but also their personalities. Some were verbal, some communicate using their hands, and one points at a letter chart with a stick taped on to her hat. Despite these challenges, they are all some of the most loving people I've ever met. The staff and the kids have a true connection that you can't always see but you can clearly feel. The staff communicate with some of the kids and interpret what they want or need. There are true friendships between the staff and the kids.

During our three days at the kids section, each of us made connections. Isaac and I became friends with an amazing girl. When we walked into the room the first day I saw E in her wheelchair drooling onto a cloth. I assumed she wasn't very present and couldn't really understand what was going on. I was so wrong. Later on that day, a staff member gave her a hat with a plastic stick taped on the front, then held a card in front of her. E started to point to letters by tilting her head slightly and touching each letter with the stick. This is when we learned E was completely aware and remembered everything. She remembered my name as well as Isaac's. She was funny, sassy and liked us both. This obviously caused a rivalry between Isaac and I over E's affection and each day we went in trying to have a good time and make her day a little bit better.

We also went to the adult work program. This is where my perspective on people with disabilities changed forever. Here I met a girl, T. On our first day in the work program, we got paired up with someone in the program and had to write our abilities and differences. T was incredible. She plays pretty much every sport including skateboarding and is full of energy. She's excited and really fun. We went to Charles River Center with the goal of making a connection with the people there. I feel like I did a little bit more. I made a friend. Whenever I see T she smiles and runs over to say hello. She is always so excited and so happy to see everybody and loves making friends.

When we first found out about our sites, I was scared I would say the wrong thing and offend someone. Now I realize that saying anything is enough. I don't worry about offending T. I talk to her like I do my friends because she is one. No, she isn't normal, she's better. T and everybody else at Charles River Center don't tell lies, they don't hide their emotions, they do what they want to and express their feelings and emotions regardless of the situation. This is humanity at it's best. They are enjoying life without social barriers. They aren't bound by the limitations of society and it's a beautiful thing to see someone be happy and truly appreciate being with people. When I go to Charles River Center I'm not afraid, instead I am awestruck at the joy these amazing people find in simple companionship. A smile means the world to them and so does a wave or a simple "hello." During discussion after the trip today, I think Samantha (Madricha) summed them up nicely: "They're perfect."

Ryan Wiessman, North Texas Oklahoma Region

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International Inductions At CLTC 2

Posted on 06/27/2014 @ 12:45 AM

Hi everyone, my name is Jessica Schwartz and I am a member of Beresheit BBG #2412 of the Ohio Northern Region #23. Tonight I was inducted into the International Order of the B’nai B’rith Girls!!! I can truly say that inductions have been by far my favorite part of CLTC! To start inductions we all made a line holding hands to walk into a historic Bethany building. As we walked into the building we were warmly welcomed by Amanda Gladstone and then continued to walk down and sit in front of a candle, red book and a crayon. After everyone was sitting we started and Amanda talked about how we are a ‘crayon box’ because each one of us is different and has our own unique qualities just like a box of crayons. The next part, which I found fun, was when each one of us dipped our hands into some paint that represented what we believed in; we then placed our handprint on a banner that said BBG. After everyone placed their handprint on the banner I felt that our community was brought even closer together. We also shared what is unique about us and we learned that everyone is different but we are all united by BBYO. We then got up and all walked together holding hands outside to the grass where we made a circle and all laid down to watch the sunset and share things we are grateful for about each other. We then finally got inducted into the International Order of the B’nai B’rith Girls and had an amazing cheer circle. I can’t wait to see what the next few days bring- the past 9 have been truly amazing!!

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CLTC 2 Continues

Posted on 06/26/2014 @ 12:58 AM

Hi! Our names our Hana and Daniel. Today marks our 8th day of CLTC, and it was one of the best so far. Dorm 2 was Dorm of the Day, and the theme throughout the day was to appreciate the kitchen staff. Without them, how would we ever have enough energy to last us through our busy days? We started off the day with Jason’s beautiful Shacharit service that our Jewish educator, Debra, helped him plan. We talked about how even though we are all small parts of a huge planet, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still make a difference from where we are right here. In addition, we discussed how we shouldn’t take the smaller things in life for granted. Jason did an awesome job leading the service. We then split up into our “things” and had another discussion about recruiting new members. The main focus of the discussion was getting over roadblocks in the recruiting process, with different strategies and ways to approach these roadblocks. We want to make sure that every teen has an equal chance to be a part of BBYO. Later in the day, we watched a short movie called “The Tribe,” which helped us understand that we should celebrate our differences, rather than fight over them. Later on, one of the chapters, Kolot Yafot (“Beautiful Voices”), dorm 3, lead a meaningful program on bullying, where some of them shared personal stories in which they were all victims of bullying. Everyone got a small amount of Play-doh, and we each carved out an insecurity of ours. We then mashed it up, symbolizing the first step of being happier and more confident in ourselves. Finally, to end our busy day we learned about IC, or International Convention, held in Atlanta, GA. We ate peach crumble and danced for hours, as we all bonded through music and fun. As usual, we had an intimate friendship circle at the end and went to bed. Leila Tov!!

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Jewish Vocational Services

Posted on 06/25/2014 @ 08:00 PM

For the past few days I have been doing community service at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). JVS is an incredible organization that provides services to refugees. We are working with two English classes. At first, I was nervous that I would not be able to communicate with the refugees. I found out that I was completely wrong about that. As soon as I was partnered with Stacy* a woman from Ethiopia, we started having a great conversation. I learned that she speaks Amharit as well as some Arabic and Italian, and she taught me about how Eritrea broke apart from Ethiopia while she was living there. Stacy was very interesting and friendly.

What really amazes me about JVS is its devotion to helping the refugees become self-reliant in a new, strange country. The classes teach not only English, but also life skills and skills for the workplace. Refugees have only eight months from the time they land in American to get a job. Without the help of JVS, the refugees would probably have no idea what to do. I know I would be very scared and confused if I was alone in a country where I didn’t even speak the language. JVS really cares about helping the refugees succeed.

While incredibly impressed by the work of JVS, I’m even more amazed by the refugees themselves. Despite the confusion and vulnerability I imagine they are feeling, each of them is obviously very curious and eager to learn. They come to class wanting to know more so they can achieve success in this country. It’s really given me a new perspective on how to approach life. Although I am the one teaching them English, they are teaching me too. I can’t wait to continue volunteering with them.

By Rachel Brill, South Jersey Region

*Name changed to protect the identity of the JVS student.

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The Pleasant Surprises of Medicine Wheel

Posted on 06/25/2014 @ 07:00 PM

On the first day when we were divided into groups and informed about the site, we all developed our own unique ideas on what to expect. I personally envisioned an empty plot of land that we would be transforming into a public park. As the bus pulled into the parking lot on the first day of service, we all were mildly confused. The site was a forest-like environment with a small path winding through the trees. As we explored the path, we discovered several pieces of artwork and poetry that had been created by the people of Medicine Wheel. The pieces were three-dimensional and provoked strong emotions. The way that the beauty of the natural world's intersected with the individual art projects was astonishing.

The next surprise came about when meeting the man behind the magic, artist Michael Dowling. When Michael arrived to the area, which he nicknamed "No Man's Land," he began by giving a history of the site. Starting from Native American inhabitation, he described the progressive history of South Boston while orienting us about the people in the program. The way Michael spoke about the kids immediately caught my attention. He viewed the people of the program as "outspoken" teens that simply found misfortune in their lives. Michael has continuously shed wisdom upon all of us with his intriguing conceptual thoughts and questions. One thing that stood out in my mind was when he said something along the lines of "when a Caucasian gets addicted to a drug, they get sent to rehab. But when an African American gets addicted to a drug, they go to jail." This statement, along with numerous others by Michael, made me ponder societal trends that I have never considered before or thought to question.

The final surprise occurred when first encountering the teens in Medicine Wheel. Every teen that I met was incredible. Through conversing, I discovered that the teens managed to overcome many significant and difficult events in their lifetime, which made them strong emotionally as well as wise beyond their years. Conversation topics ranged from favorite movies to dreams of the future to the struggles of growing up. One specific connection I made was with a young man named Love. We immediately clicked when we discovered that we shared a passion for music. It was evident that these teenagers that we worked with were special. They are beginning to escape from the gangs, drugs, and violence that was predestined for them and are starting to live their own lives and have their own aspirations. Even in the first few days, it is clear that these teenagers will have a strong impact on our lives and perceptions.

Michael, Medicine Wheel, and now Impact Boston teens are working on "No Man's Land" in the hopes of inclusion of everyone no matter their socioeconomic condition, race, religion, and physical ability. Although the cleanup and preparation for the pavement of the path is a tedious process, the experience is extremely rewarding. No longer will this area in the community be a location of illegal actions such as substance consumption and violence, but rather an area where the community can gather to admire the art and hear the voices of these incredible teens.

Zachary Alter, Connecticut Valley Region

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CLTC 3, Day 2: Chapters are Formed

Posted on 06/25/2014 @ 02:15 PM

Today, at CLTC, the mock chapters started forming closer bonds of fraternity and sisterhood as they all chose their chapter names, numbers, and mascots. The AZA and BBG Educations Programs taught the teens about the history of their respective fraternity and sisterhood and the principles upon which they were founded. "My mock chapter, Nadar BBG, has bonded so much the past 2 days through learning about BBYO and leadership and becoming leaders together. Our sisterhood was strengthened when we had rap battles and dance offs." - Julia Saltzman, ONR "My favorite part of CLTC has been passing the friend barrier and truly becoming brothers and sister together in harmony" - Jonathan Ish-Shalom, Wisconsin Region "Although it's only been 1 day, everyone's already been so friendly and I feel like I've known them for years." - Erin Watton, Wisconsin Region

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CLTC 2 Explores Our Jewish Identity

Posted on 06/25/2014 @ 12:20 AM

Hi, our names are Vanessa Mandel and Leetal Pinko from KIO and NRE region. Throughout the day today there were different programs on exploring your Judaism. We did an educational and fun activity where we added beads to a bracelet that represented the different values and practices of Judaism. Just to name a few- culture, traditions, social action and more. By discussing with others we discovered that no bracelet was alike. Another similar program today that helped us express our Judaism was coloring Jewish stars with different colors that represented different practices and values. In addition we sat in a circle and each said an important value of Judaism that was important to us. Through these programs, we learned that everyone expresses Judaism in their own way, however it does not mean one is better than the other. Each one of us has different values and traditions that make us different. It was interesting learning about everyone’s different ways of practicing the same religion. Submitted with undying love for Ruach BBG #1814, CLTC 2 2014, and the amazing programs, we forever remain Vanessa Mandel and Leetal Pinko

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Inside Scoop on the New England Center for Homeless Veterans

Posted on 06/24/2014 @ 06:00 PM

Today at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans we started by helping to clear out a cluttered storage room full of supplies for the veterans. Some of the group went off and cleaned trash cans, other moved laptops, and two even moved a bed. We were really there for anything they needed. The cleaning, while hard work, ended up being fun and a great bonding experience for all the teens.

The feelings of the group seemed to be positive all around; even the people cleaning trash cans felt that they were doing a great thing once veterans personally came up to them and thanked them. Everyone was excited to complete the first day of real work at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans. Although the work was not direct, it really felt like we were making an impact. Personally, we couldn’t wait to get a chance to talk with the veterans about their experiences, which we did during lunch.

Everyone seemed to meet very different people and everyone got something different from each conversation. We spoke with a man who told us about his life outside of the army and the benefits and struggles he also had. He has lived with significant disabilities for thirty-six years, and has only recently filed for disability with the government. He directed us to another man who was a highly decorated colonel in Vietnam, Joseph. Joseph now has dementia, but luckily he still has a perfect recollection of his experience in Vietnam. One common thing we found in our group was that everyone was very passionate about wanting to help the veterans and bring what we are learning back home with us.

Ross Abrash (Eastern Region) and Jake Victor (Great Midwest Region)

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March Of The Living Program

Posted on 06/24/2014 @ 12:15 AM

Hi, I’m Andre Becker, an Aleph from Ramon AZA #195 from Central Region West in California. Today, our director Ellen led an absolutely fantastic program about the March of the Living which is a march taken from Auschwitz to the close-by death camp Birkenau. There have been a lot of really good quality programs, but this program was the best because of how many emotions accompanied it. We started the program by writing down the people we are closest to, then the things we have accomplished so far in our life, and finally our hopes and dreams for the future. We watched an emotional video about the march that makes me extremely proud to be Jewish. Then a brave BBG stood up along with some of our amazing staff and told us their emotional stories of their journey, then answered our questions about this amazing trip. Ellen did an absolutely fantastic job planning and leading this program and I definitely think I can lead an event back home based on this amazing program. From all of CLTC 2- thank you Ellen. And thank you to Josh, my advisor, for being absolutely fantastic this first week. Peace Out!

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IMPACT: Boston Day 2

Posted on 06/23/2014 @ 09:00 PM

Looking around the room this morning at breakfast, participants were still on a high from yesterday's excitement of arriving, meeting new people and making new friends. But once the buses returned from their service sites this afternoon, the atmosphere completely changed.

After lunch, everyone's energy was high, as the teens were active within their circle groups. Participants talked about what their experiences at their service sites were and engaged in team-building exercises. Going from activity to activity, I saw the excitement of each participant build as they soon discovered that what they would be doing at Impact would have an outlasting effect on their lives and the communities they're helping.

This is one of the most selfless groups of teenagers I've ever seen at a BBYO program, and I couldn't be prouder to work with such an inspiring group of people. Being in BBYO for four years, I've experienced the ups and downs of this incredible organization, but I was never able to experience the influence that IMPACT: Boston has on the participants.

After finishing my first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I decided that I wanted to staff IMPACT: Boston to understand the incredible things that I've heard about this program. I couldn't be happier with the decision that I made to be a Madricha. I look forward to spending the next two weeks bonding with participants, doing volunteer work in Boston, and truly finding the meaning of giving back to one's community.

By Samantha Dorenfeld

IMPACT: Boston Madricha

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> a really cool quote from a nice person
a really cool quote from a nice person

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