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Adath Israel hosts “Voice Your Vote”

This story was published in American Israelite.

By Adath Israel Congregation

Adath Israel Congregation hosted an initiative on Tuesday, November 8, to get Jewish teens together from all groups and areas of the city to watch the election results, have meaningful political discussions and spend time with one another.

The event, called “Voice Your Vote,” brought approximately 50 Jewish teens from all over Cincinnati together. It was part of an initiative spearheaded by the city’s Jewish Teen Professionals and teen representatives.

Last year, this group held two city wide teen events and the goal is to have two again this year, with the “Voice Your Vote” event being the first. These events are open to all Jewish teens, eighth grade through twelfth grade.

The idea for “Voice Your Vote” came from a national BBYO event with the same name. Using the general idea, the Cincinnati teens and teen professionals turned it into a Cincinnati event sponsored by the local chapters of United Synagogue Youth (USY), Northeast Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), and B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO).

Teens Abby Lefton, Brooke Suddleson, Jonah Rosenberg, Lia Shapiro, Matt Wagner, and Matthew Youkilis took the lead on planning the event. The teens were supported by their advisers, Phil Ganson, Andy Harkavy, Ben Pagliaro, Deja Morton, and Brianna Pecsok, who work for synagogues and/or youth groups throughout the Cincinnati Jewish community.

Teens came early to set up the projected live-stream feed of the news, red, white, and blue decorations, and a full buffet dinner.

“The cool thing about this event in particular was it allowed the teens to come and experience the historic moment together. Past events have been purely social, which didn’t always encourage teens to talk to people outside of their friend group, but this one provided the opportunity for deeper engagement,” said Brianna Pecsok, Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs at Adath Israel.

After a teen-led mixer, the kids divided up into groups to have discussions based on a topic that most interested them. They could choose from a variety of topics in the news during this political campaign. After the discussions, they had dinner and socialized as they watched the results start to come in.

“‘Voice Your Vote’ was a huge success because so many Jewish teens gathered together on election night to engage in discussion about complex issues that America faces today. The mannequin challenge and photo booth were also a huge hit. The youth groups look forward to working together on future city wide events,” said Phil Ganson, JCC Teen Coordinator.

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