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BBYO International Convention

Read this story in Arizona Jewish Post

Over Presidents Day weekend, more than 2,200 Jewish teens from across the globe gathered in Atlanta for the largest BBYO International Convention ever. Lola Maas, a freshman at Tucson High Magnet School and member of Kadimah BBG, and Lindsay Migdal, Tucson BBYO city director, participated in what Migdal called “this life-changing experience.” The convention’s 2015 theme was “Stronger Together,” demonstrated by the leaders of the five major Jewish youth groups (NFTY, USY, BBYO, NCSY and Young Judea) coming together to strategize ways to build a stronger, united Jewish community. An array of speakers inspired the teens to stand up for Israel, become leaders, and search for their own Jewish identity. Shimon Peres, former president of the State of Israel, sent a special video message about the importance of being an ally for Israel. Other speakers included actresses Kat Graham of “The Vampire Diaries” and Emmanuelle Chriqui of “Entourage”; Lynn Schusterman of the Schusterman Foundation; Michael Steinhardt, Taglit-Birthright Israel co-founder; and Eric Fingerhut, Hillel International president. The convention also hosted celebrity performers Hoodie Allen (aka Steven Markowitz), Kap Slap, Aer and Flo Rida.

The BBYO teens volunteered at the Atlanta Food Bank, participated in an interfaith service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, visited Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace, heard stories of survival from Holocaust and Rwandan genocide survivors, toured the Coca Cola factory, and learned about marketing and communication at CNN headquarters.

Lola’s favorite programs included the feminism panel comprising prominent women in business, and Kat Graham’s talk. The convention brought home to her just how large the BBYO organization is. “It was really cool to be surrounded by all of these teens who are Jewish,” she said. “I loved the programs offered, having something for everyone.”

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