Baltimore Teen Elected International BBG President
This story was published in Baltimore Jewish Times.
By Daniel Nozick
Baltimore’s Rebecca Sereboff was voted international N’siah (president) of B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG), the sorority component the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, at the BBYO’s International Convention in Dallas last month.
Rebecca, 17, is a lifelong Reisterstown resident and a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation. She attended Krieger Schechter Day School from kindergarten through eighth grade and now attends Roland Park Country School.
“When I finished at Krieger Schechter, I wanted a way to stay involved with the Jewish community through high school,” she said. “[A friend] from gymnastics was a member [of BBYO] and invited me to an event, and it caught on from there. Not only was I able to be part of the Jewish community, but it was with a lot of my friends.”
Rebecca held her first leadership position in her Baltimore chapter, Achot BBG, during the first semester of her freshman year at Roland Park. The role, Sunshine Girl, meant going above and beyond to make events more engaging and to recognize individual chapter members.
“Basically, my job was to wish people happy birthday on the chapter’s social media accounts and to help with planning events and bringing cookies,” she said. “From that, I realized how much I enjoyed leadership.”
She quickly worked to positions with more responsibility, serving as vice president of her chapter the following semester and then as president her sophomore year. At that point, she felt ready to take her next step in the BBYO and became president of the Northern Region East, which grew from 170 teens to 300 during the two semesters in which she served in that role.
Now a senior, Rebecca will be deferring college for a year in order to serve as the international president of BBYO, a role that will see her traveling the world to meet and engage with teens, run programs, consult with stakeholders and help with community development. She’ll be working side-by-side with her Aleph Zadik Aleph — the organization’s fraternal half — counterpart, Ron Hasson, who was elected Grand Aleph Godol.
Sereboff has clear goals for what she wants to accomplish as international n’siah, which she outlined at last month’s convention.
“I ran under the platform of ‘Why does BBG matter?’ A lot of the time, people are going to programs and being engaged, but they don’t understand the greater impact of BBYO on the Jewish people,” she said.
“It is not just attending programs, it is ensuring that there is a stronger and brighter Jewish future to come. That is my main goal, to make sure members understand why the movement matters.”
BBYO engages more than 80,000 teens a year, but Rebecca does not want its programs to be simply about community service. She wants teens to realize that it is a way of engaging with Jewish life.
“The more individualized the experience, the more [teens] will understand why it matters,” she said.
Rebecca’s other overarching goal will be to incorporate more tangible evidence of BBYO’s influence into programming and conventions.
“BBYO does a lot of fundraising,” she said, “but I don’t think teens necessarily know or see what that money is doing. Whether we are fundraising or not, quantifying will make [what we are doing] more important. We aren’t just donating money to an organization, we are donating money to an organization for a specific purpose.”
Her aim is for teens to see and reflect on the impact they can have on the Jewish community and the world.
“There are 72 girls who have come before me [as international president]. To have that honor and opportunity, I am beyond grateful, and I am humbled and excited,” Rebecca said. “I’m also really looking forward to traveling, particularly going to places in Eastern Europe that, in recent history, have not had the greatest Jewish community but now are on the up-and-up.”