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I Can See The Future...

Posted on 07/12/2013 @ 12:23 PM

Tags: shabbat

OK, so we don’t know exactly what the future holds, but at summer programs we get a little glimpse. We get to see next year’s leaders, the upcoming teens who will move us forward as a movement and as a Jewish people. It’s a little bit like seeing the future. And from where I’m sitting, the future looks bright. These teens are impressing me with their openness to learn new things, their excitement and commitment to BBYO, and their clear joy at being Jewish.

And so I’m pleased to share with you a little bit of the future. The immediate future, to be fair, as these are a few of the comments the teens are planning to share on Saturday evening as part of our final Havdalah program at ILTC (International Leadership Training Conference). They give you just a bit of the taste of what the future holds for us all:

In my time at ILTC, I have had many defining experiences, but none more so than the AZA Generational Program. The program was well-planned, meaningful, and very educational about the passion of AZA. It was an experience that opened my eyes to the past, present, and future of our movement and a program that I will definitely bring home to my chapter and Council. Nothing is more important than bringing what we have learned here at ILTC home to our chapters, councils, and regions. My brother Alephs and sister B’nai B’rith girls, this is just the beginning. - D.B., Northern Region East - DC Council

I’m ready. I’m ready. As hard as it is to leave ILTC, I need to return home and make a difference. I’m ready to ready to return to NER and establish new initiatives that give more members leadership opportunities. I’m ready to redefine the way NER programs conventions. I’m ready to take Stand UP and Speak UP to new heights. I’m ready to make NER a force to reckon with not only in quantity but also in quality. I’m ready to go home and start new chapters. My brother Alephs and sister B’nai B’rith Girls, this is just the beginning. - J.B., New England Region

(Need more glimpses of the future? Check out the summer blogs at

From Camp Perlman to wherever the summer may find you, may you always face the future with the excitement of these teens!

Looking forward through this Shabbat message is Rachel Meytin, Director of Panim and Jewish Enrichment.


From the Four Corners to BBYO

Posted on 07/05/2013 @ 12:16 PM

Tags: shabbat

“V’havienu l’shalom m’arba kanfot ha’aretz v’tolicheinu kommemeut l’artzeinu” – bring us peacefully from the four corners of the earth and lead us with upright pride to our land.

Today, over 100 teens from the US, Canada, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine came to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. With our bags, our Israeli cell phones, and our shekels, we drove to Jerusalem’s Hebrew University campus where we had our opening ceremonies. Overlooking the Old City, we said kiddish (prayer over grape juice), we said hamotzi (prayer over bread), we sang the shechechiyanu (prayer we say at especially momentous times), and we danced joyfully together.

The theme of ILSI 2013 is: “Bringing It Home.” Today this meant that we have been brought home to the Jewish homeland. The theme also means that we will be focusing over the next three weeks on empowering the teen leaders to bring what they learn to their home chapters, regions/councils, and communities. One of our central goals is for the teen leaders on ILSI 2013 to be the ones in front of the room sharing their passion for Israel and helping build that passion for others.

Every day we will be introducing a new “big question” to the group. A Passover Sedar has the 4 questions, and we will have the 19 questions. And like a Passover sedar, we will hope that these big questions will stimulate learning, rich dialogue, and bring friends together for meaningful time together. Today’s big question was: “Where are we going?” Some thought of this literally to refer to the trip, while others understood the question to refer to where is the Jewish people as a whole going?

We are looking forward to an extraordinary three weeks ahead on ILSI 2013 and sharing more of our experience with you in the coming days. Please follow our activities on the blog:

Sending wishes for a Shabbat Shalom around the globe, Ira Dounn, Director of Jewish Enrichment, BBYO's Northeast Hub


Life Unplugged

Posted on 09/07/2012 @ 08:11 PM

Tags: Shabbat

Do you think you could unplug for a whole day? With multiple screens always an arm's length away, and with lives like ours where there is always something else which could use our attention (another email to check or another status to post), the idea of unplugging for a full 24 hours is near impossible to fathom, now more than ever. Because of this, different people from all walks of life, religions, and cultural heritages are joining national movements like Sabbath Manifesto and Unplug & Reconnect which urge people to put down their devices and fully enjoy certain aspects of our lives which may get pushed aside in our busy, technology-saturated culture. The folks at Sabbath Manifesto even came up with 10 Principles to help people start building their own days of rest, some of which might sound familiar...

1) Avoid technology
2) Connect with loved ones
3) Nurture your health
4) Get outside
5) Avoid commerce
6) Light candles
7) Drink wine
8) Eat bread
9) Find silence
10) Give back

Whether it's doing just one or all ten of these principles, do you think you could challenge yourself to turn off the computer, put down the phone, and make your own Shabbat, whether it's Friday night to Saturday night, or Tuesday? Let me know what you think!

This Shabbat message was led by Rabbi Zac Johnson, Western States DJE


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