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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 3

Posted on 11/19/2013 @ 03:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Even breakfast doesn't stop us...

What a way to end on a high note! We closed out the seminar today, with some last excellent speakers, some hard work finishing preparing for Capitol Hill, and then - of course - lobbying!

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A PEP student conversing with Jonathan Kessler, Director of Leadership Initiatives at AIPAC

Key highlights from today included:
- Session with Jonathan Kessler, Director of Leadership Initiatives at AIPAC
- Learning about the 5Ps of effective lobbying visits
- Final preparations for lobbying
- 20 great hill meetings
- Wrapping Up and going home!

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The 5 Ps of Effective Lobbying

We don't have any blogs from Tuesday - - YET! Please send them to rmeytin@bbyo.org!!

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Denver students get some preparation done over breakfast...

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HAFTR students from Long Island, NY - - all dressed up and ready to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill!

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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 2

Posted on 11/18/2013 @ 10:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Getting SPACE-d on how to impact issues from all angles and sides.

We really packed it in today! Just a few blog posts and pictures for now - we'll add more once we've all gotten some rest!

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Arguing the case(s) for and against different healthcare reform policies.

Key highlights from today included:
- A portion of us went out to do direct service to the community of DC (see blog 1, below) 
- A portion of us remained at the hotel and did a second policy session, on Healthcare Reform. 
- We ivited two senior policy experts to present their perspectives -- and a rousing and engaging session ensued!
- We looked at a way of exploring an issue and ensuring that we're addressing it from every angle, called "SPACE" - Service, Philanthropy, Advocacy, Community Organizing, and (social) Entrepreneurship.
- We simulated a set of congressional offices and the teen Members of Congress voted for or against a gun control bill.
- Heard from an Ida Crown alumni who is now a senior official at the Department of the Interior -  Rachel Jacobson - who spoke to us about the recent government shut-down.
- Many of our students attended the Anti Defamation League's Concert Against Hate
- A smaller group of students did a (long!) walking evening monument tour.

It was a very full day and everyone is quite tired. Off to bed - - gotta be rested for Capitol Hill!

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Introducing our Healthcare reform speakers.

Blog 1: Doing Service

Today the group split up and went to various service locations. My group went to DC Central Kitchen, where we made 65 pans of salad and filled three huge bins with shredded turkey. The mission of DC Central Kitchen is to collect extra food from restaurants and supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away. The experience was eye opening and inspirational. I hope to be able to do similar things at home and bring everything I learned at Panim home to my community. - Aviva D (Denver JHS)

Blog 2: Reflections on a Night Out

Sarah is a strong believer in social justice for all.
She is an avid reader.
She is a strong believer in humanity for all.
she is an avid believer that youth (such as us here on Panim) have the ability to bring the United States to be a state of equality.
She is a strong believer in civil rights for all.
She is a victim of spit and stones.
she is homeless, living on the streets and benches of our nation's capital.
Yet,
She is Sarah. 
Gila B. (Ida Crown Jewish Academy)

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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 1

Posted on 11/17/2013 @ 10:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Our group from Akiva Hebrew Day School in Detroit, MI, enjoys their first group meeting to prepare to lobby on Capitol Hill

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Some happy Panim el Panim students.

We are so happy to be starting off the November 2013 Panim el Panim seminar! We have 8 great groups here: Akiva Hebrew Day School (Detroit-area, MI), Chicagoland Jewish High School, Denver Jewish High School, HAFTR High School (Long Island, NY), Ida Crown Jewish Academy (Chicago), Jacksonville (FL) Jewish Center, Kushner High School (New Jersey), and Westchester (NY) Hebrew High school. All together we have 125 great teens!

Key highlights from today included:
- Engaging and challenging opening remarks - Ice breakers
- National Coalition for the Homeless (see 2 blogs, below!)
- Our first policy session, focusing on Conflict Minerals and how the US (both individuals and as a country) can influence this foreign challenge
- The beginning of our Street Torah work - An Israeli perspective on how the US impact is felt by Israelis (3rd blog post below)
- Getting started on preparing ourselves for our lobbying visits.

It was a long day and everyone is quite tired. Off to bed - - more policy, direct service, and much more tomorrow!!

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Introducing our Foreign Intervention speakers...

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Students from HAFTR discuss possible lobbying topics

Blog 1: National Coalition for the Homeless

On the first day of Panim a diverse group of kids from multiple Jewish schools across the country came together and formed a miniature community. We spoke with many representatives, including the National Coalition for the Homeless. The students found this particular session to be most inspiring and engaging. On a daily basis we witness but don't truly think about the fact that there are people a lot less fortunate than us. We feel that this opened the eyes of our new community to advocate for housing and make a difference.
Tali G (Chicagoland JHS) & Samuel F (Denver JHS)

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Our NCH speakers - Dana and Candy

Blog 2: National Coalition for the Homeless

At first glance, they seemed like ordinary, working people. However, we soon discovered the true nature of their dispositions. Just a few years ago, Dana and Candy had each fallen victim to one of the most prevalent issues in American society: homelessness. We learned some shocking statistics, including that over 1.5 million people are currently homeless in America today. Sufferers can easily fall into this maelstrom in the blink of an eye - - as the world they know falls apart around them. We often, perhaps ignorantly, associate the homeless with insanity and reproachful qualities, however behind their dusty exterior, they are people exactly like us.
Shayna L & Darcy S (Westchester HHS)

Blog 3: Etay Mizrav

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Etai Mizrav speaking to the group

Tonight my peers and I listened to Etay Mizrav talk about Israel. His perspective on the US' involvement with Israeli was extremely interesting - - and I was shocked to find out that he appreciated US involvement with the IDF. Etay also told us about how his team of Israelis and a team of US Marines had a pretend combat and that the Israelis "won." I loved that he was so proud of that and I respect his devotion to Israel and the IDF. I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to talk to Etay and he was my favorite segment of the night.
Sarah M (Jacksonville Jewish Center)

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Ida Crown students reflect on the day.

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Advocacy and Bringing it Home

Posted on 11/12/2013 @ 10:30 AM

Tags: pep

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Rachel Dow of BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region writing a letter to President Obama on a paper plate for the Paper Plate Campaign

On the third and final day of Hunger is Not a Game, Laura Mizes of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger joined the group. During her time with the teens, they discussed ways to best advocate for people experiencing hunger in their home communities.

Laura shared some inspiring stories of initiatives MAZON has undertaken and championed in different states around the country. For example, free and reduced lunches for school-aged kids are lost over the summer. In Texas, MAZON passed legislation that said,schools with 50% or more of kids on free/reduced lunch are required to offer school meals over the summer.

The question remained, how can teens help affect change like this?

One way is to start a Paper Plate Campaign, writing advocacy letters to legislators on paper plates.

The Summit participants then spent the morning on a Paper Plate Campaign. At the end of the program, Laura charged the teens with bringing this activity home by researching hunger issues in their communities, encouraging their local synagogues to get involved and being in touch with MAZON for help moving forward.

"The squeaky wheel gets the oil…" she said. Or, the more voices there are, the more likely they are to be heard. "Be a voice for the voiceless."

After three days of learning not only about hunger in the US, but also how to make an impact on this issue and truly help those experiencing it, the teens are heading back to their home communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to make a difference.

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Food Stamp Challenge + Hunger Banquet

Posted on 11/11/2013 @ 07:00 PM

Tags: pep

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Allison Lukas of BBYO Central Region West during the Food Stamp Challenge at Hunger is Not a Game

Later in the afternoon, the teens traveled to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After a guided tour of the campus, they were given a challenge: a Food Stamp Challenge. They were brought to the grocery store and instructed to write down the prices of enough food to feed themselves for a weekend.

Upon return, they tallied up how much their weekend meals would cost in total. Answers ranged from $6 per day to over $20 per day.

Families who live on food stamps get an allowance of $4.50 per day, or $1.50 per meal.

They looked back at their list and realized that, in order to live on food stamps, they’d have to cut out healthy and nutritious foods. This led into a discussion of suggestions for the Supplemental Nutritious Assistance Program (SNAP) like offering vouchers for more nutritious foods and healthier restaurants. It was an eye-opening exercise that put hunger into perspective.

After the Food Stamp Challenge, the teens transitioned to an Oxfam Hunger Banquet presented by BBYO. After being given identities and income levels (low, middle, high), they sat in designated areas. People with high income levels were seated at white table-clothed tables (20% of the world’ population); people with mid-level incomes were seated in chairs with no table (30% of the world’s population); people with low income levels were directed to the floor (50% of the world’s population).

The coordinators brought this to life by explaining real-world experiences that can happen to people in these three different groups that can switch them to another level in an instant. Then, it was time for dinner.

To represent what people in these different classes truly eat, the high income group was treated to a full buffet, the middle income group was only allowed side dishes and, when the low income group was called up for food, the men went first followed by the women, and they were only given rice.

It was a stark difference in food allowance and gave the teens “food for thought” for the rest of the Summit.

Up next, we’ll spend a night exploring Ann Arbor. Check back tomorrow for more updates!

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Learning and Serving: Hunger is Not a Game

Posted on 11/11/2013 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: pep

The second day of Hunger is Not a Game started off with Summit participants being split into groups to volunteer at three of the Detroit area’s leading food banks: Gleaners Community Food Bank, Forgotten Harvest and Yad Ezra.

At Gleaners, the teens started off the day with donating 350 pounds of canned goods and other non-perishable foods. They then toured the food bank, learned about the work they do on a daily basis and took on a few projects including sorting food to distribute to local agencies to then distribute to those in need and bagging food for kids to take home from school at the end of the week to ensure they have sustenance for the weekend.

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BBYO teens at Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit, MI

At Forgotten Harvest, the teens sorted and packaged over 10,000 pounds of food to donate to those in need and at Yad Ezra, they divided food donations based on whether there was a hechsher or not so that kosher food would go to families who keep kosher.

In total, the teens packaged more than 20,000 pounds of food for those in need.

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Canstruction

Posted on 11/10/2013 @ 08:45 PM

Tags: pep

After dinner, the teens had a “construction” competition. Using canned and non-perishable goods brought with them, they were broken into five groups to build structures relating to hunger.

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Tree House representing the dream of childhood that children experiencing hunger miss out on.

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The BBYO logo, with the last "o" arranged like a plate of food, representing the group of teens at the Summit coming together to work to raise awareness about hunger.

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A mitten representing Detroit, the place they have come together to raise awareness about hunger.

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The cornucopia, representing the gourd of food featured in The Hunger Games and Thanksgiving cornucopias.

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A prison, representing that experiencing hunger feels like imprisonment and can be a life-long sentence.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll load the buses to service sites and spend the day learning and directly impacting the community.

Check back tomorrow for updates… Laila tov!

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United Way Poverty Simulation

Posted on 11/10/2013 @ 08:00 PM

Tags: pep

The first day of Hunger is Not a Game has come to a close. The four teen coordinators – Brittany Bruck (BBYO Southern Region: Atlanta Council), Jordan Kotler (BBYO Northern Region East: DC Council), Daniel Roth (BBYO Pacific Western Region) and Michael Vivier (BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region) – began with a program aimed at orienting the participants to what hunger truly is. In the format of “what would you do?” in various situations, the teens started to get a feel for what people suffering from hunger face every day.

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United Way of Southeastern Michigan Representative Audrey Bloomberg explains the poverty simulation

Shortly after, representatives from the United Way of South Eastern Michigan joined the group to lead an interactive poverty simulation to help them try to understand what it’s like to spend a month living in poverty. The teens were divided into mock families and assigned roles (everything from mother to father, child to grandmother) along with sources of income, possessions, utility bills and identification documents.

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Claire Akers (BBYO Keystone Mountain Region) and Danny Sills (BBYO Pacific Western Region), playing the role of a mother and son, review their finances and fill out social services forms.

The mission was laid out by representative and BBYO alum Audrey Bloomberg – the teens would be given one hour (representing a month, broken into 15 minute weeks) – to live a mock month by going to different stations around the room representing work, social services, school, the bank, a pawn shop and a community action organization.

“This may seem like a game, but it’s not a game,” said Bloomberg. “This is how people live in your cities across the world.”

The “families” were given eight minutes to strategize and then the simulation took place.

After, Bloomberg asked for words to describe how they felt. The answers: angry, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, cheated, guilty, annoyed, scared, embarrassed.

One eye-opening realization that came out of the program was that many people weren’t aware of the organizations like the community action organization (in the simulation and in the real world) that are available to help people in these situations, experiencing these feelings.

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Nearly 80 Teens Arrive in Detroit for Hunger is Not a Game

Posted on 11/10/2013 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: pep

Around 2:00 p.m. EST, the first teens began trickling into the hotel in downtown Detroit which will be home for the next few days for Hunger is Not a Game: A Teen Issue Summit on Hunger Awareness and Advocacy.

Hunger is Not a Game: A Teen Issue Summit on Hunger Awareness and Advocacy

Amongst the laughter and reunion hugs as nearly 80 Jewish teens from across North America gather, chatter about the upcoming activities during the three days of learning, service and advocacy surrounding hunger awareness begins. On the docket for the Summit:

United Way Poverty Simulation - an interactive poverty simulation to learn what it’s like to live below the poverty line

Canstruction – the teens will create a structure with canned goods they brought with them, which will then be donated to a local food bank

Direct service – the teens will directly impact the Detroit community by volunteering at three of the area’s leading food banks (Forgotten Harvest, Yad Ezra and Gleaners Community Food Bank)

An afternoon at the University of Michigan – a guided tour of the campus, a Food Stamp Challenge (an interactive activity where teens will plan weekend’s worth of meals on a food stamp allowance - $4.50/day) and an Oxfam Hunger Banquet presented by BBYO (a meal devised to help participants understand what people of different income levels around the world eat each day)

A night out in Ann Arbor!

MAZON Paper Plate Campaign - a session where teens will learn how to best advocate for people suffering from hunger in their local communities

It is going to be a meaningful three days here in Detroit… Be sure to check back here on the bog for updates and follow the action on Twitter!

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A Successful Summit

Posted on 06/27/2013 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: pep

After a combined 1,080 hours of service, the teens at BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild have made a huge impact on the Staten Island community and for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

On their last day at the Summit, the group again split into two. The first group continued community beautification – today, they actually planted a garden. The second group continued stringing water bottles together to create the walls of the sustainable greenhouse and laid down the foundation at the community garden. They also planted garden beds to go in the community garden.

In the garden, Skylar Morley, 16 years old, of Ridgefield, CT thought out loud, “This is actually really cool. They were right when they said it’s the little things that make big differences.”

With that we are reminded to think globally and act locally.

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One Teen's Thoughts on BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild

Posted on 06/27/2013 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: pep

When you're a kid, they tell you that if you're a good person, you'll be rewarded and, if you're a bad person, you'll face consequences for your actions.

This could not be more false.

Before coming to BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild: A Teen Issue Summit on the Power of Service, I was excited about doing a little bit of community service and getting some hours for it. It wasn't until Patricia Dresch-- a Hurricane Sandy survivor-- came to share her story that I truly realized how important our service was to these people. Patricia lost both her husband and daughter while fighting the violent waters that flooded her home. She seemed like such a kind person, so I couldn't understand why such horrible things happened to her.

It wasn't fair.

Her bravery was so inspiring and made me 110% more excited to serve the affected community. In that moment, all I wanted to do was take away the pain that this disaster caused her, and I knew that I wasn't the only one in the room that felt this way. Although life didn't serve her justice, we were all ready to try and make things better. I finally felt the power that our service had in this community.

- Roni Rose, Charlotte, NC

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Ben, Abigail, Bruce, Roni

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BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild Day of Service

Posted on 06/26/2013 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: pep

Day two of BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild was spent doing several service projects. The group split into two. One group traveled to a residential community to help out with community beautification. They cleaned up a whole block of a community and worked hard to make it look like a place to be proud to live again. The other group was at another site not far away, shoveling and packaging the mulch that was then brought over to the first group’s site to use in the beautification project.

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At the second site, the group also sorted summer clothing and frozen food to provide to families in the area. Once those projects were complete, the teens started the process of making a sustainable greenhouse out of water bottles and planting in a community garden.

The greenhouse and garden are the first in a project of 25 that Feeding Family, a service group in the area, are building in Staten Island. The inspiration for the project came when, after Hurricane Sandy, it took a full month to get fresh produce onto the island. These greenhouses and community gardens are meant to be sustainable and environmentally friendly in order to avoid this in the future.

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Sandy's Devastation Firsthand

Posted on 06/25/2013 @ 10:00 PM

Tags: pep

After dinner, representatives from Met Council, one of New York's largest human services agencies, joined the teens. The most moving moments of this part of the Summit came from Patricia Dresch, a Hurricane Sandy survivor.

After being robbed during their evacuation for Hurricane Irene, the Dresch family decided not to evacuate for Hurricane Sandy. As a result, Patricia Dresch lost husband George and 13 year old daughter Angela. This year, Angela would have graduated middle school. Tonight was her middle school’s prom, just across the street from the BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild Summit.

Patricia relayed the devastating details of her family’s experience with Hurricane Sandy. In its aftermath, she said, “I had nothing.” She said that when people come here to do little things like pick up garbage and sort clothing, people don’t realize the impact it makes. “Tomorrow, people may come up and hug you for doing what you’re doing and you may not understand why, but every little thing makes a difference to them.”

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In response, teens shared – some tearfully - their new outlooks on the work to be done tomorrow:

“I came in here wanting to help and I expected to just do small things, but what you’ve told us about small things makes this so much deeper and I’m excited to be a part of it.” Matthew Ludwig, Randolph, NJ

“I’ve never really seen any major natural disaster happen. You don’t just lose your physical self, you lose your emotional self. This has really opened my eyes.” – Dylan Nowogrodski, Thornhill, ON

“Hearing what [Patricia] said – how such a small thing can make an impact on someone – makes me so excited to meet people tomorrow and help change their lives.” – Abby Seidel, Atlanta, GA

“I came here knowing what I would be doing. After hearing how much of an effect little things have, I now know why I’m doing what I’m doing.” – Alex Schwartz, Wilmington, DE

“Hearing from you has changed the meaning of Hurricane Sandy. I know tomorrow we are all going to put 200% more effort into our work because of you. Please don’t stop sharing your story.” – Roni Rose, Charlotte, NC

Emily Peter from Cooper City, FL stood up and asked, “Can I give you a hug?”

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Tomorrow, the teens go into the community to do their part with the “little things” and make a big impact.

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BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild Begins!

Posted on 06/25/2013 @ 07:00 PM

Tags: pep

Today kicked off the first day of BBYO Stand UP and Rebuild: A Teen Issue Summit on the Power of Service. Nearly 100 teens from the United States, Canada and Bulgaria traveled to New York to come together and learn about the importance of direct service and advocacy and make an impact on the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy months ago.

Once teens arrived at the hotel, they gathered for some icebreakers and to talk about why they stand up for certain issues. They were given a list of 30 different causes and, throughout various rounds of elimination, identified one main cause they were most passionate about. For Lauren Ide, 18 years old of Orange, CT, “the exercise made me delve deep and really determine what I stand up for.”

Later, the Executive Director of Tivnu: Building Justice, Steve Eisenbach-Budner, joined the group to help them not only think about the causes they support, but what drives them to support those causes. Some motivators included being born into privilege, guilt, the influence of friends/peers, sense of social justice, empathy, Jewish values/teachings/history and family values.

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Steve Eisenbach-Budner, Executive Director of Tivnu: Building Justice

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February 2013 Panim el Panim 2

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

Tags: pep

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participant, Elana Muroff, Los Angeles Hebrew High School, Los Angeles, CA.

Today was an exciting day! Being the first group to arrive, we had to wait for all the other groups to make their way to D.C. Our group explored Washington, D.C. before the other groups arrived – it was great!

Once everyone arrived, we had a session on what to expect from Panim el Panim and our potential impact on the world. Then we had icebreakers, and we had two guest speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless. The taught us about their encounters with homelessness, and how to treat homeless people we encounter in the future. Tomorrow, when we are going out to do Street Torah, the information they provided will be useful. 

After dinner, we either went to BBYO's International Convention’s concert or took a stroll around the White House and monuments. I can’t wait until tomorrow!

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

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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!

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