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Omaha BBYO kicked off the 20142015 programming year with several events during the Omaha Jewish Reunion. We were extremely fortunate to have some international BBYO staff join us for the weekend, including Director of the Teen Movement, Ian Kandel from Washington D.C, BBYO Area Director Debra Tozer from St. Louis, International Grand Aleph Godol (International BBYO Teen President) Sam Perlen from Nashville, TN, and BBYO CEO, Matthew Grossman from Washington D.C.

On Saturday afternoon many BBYO teens, parents, alumni, and local supporters attended the AZA 90th and BBG 70th Reunion program at the JCC. Guests enjoyed listening to Ari Riekes, President ofthe Henry Monsky Lodge, as the program's MC, as well as many esteemed speakers, including Matthew Grossman, Sam Perlen, Omaha Council Godol, Max Polack, Mother Chapter AZA #1 President, Jordan Saag, and BBYO parent and supporter, Louri Sullivan. After the speeches, guests watched a photo slideshow of AZA and BBG throughout the years. Perlen, who deferred college for one year to be the Grand Aleph Godol, spent a few extra days in Omaha. Housed by the Saag family,

Perlen experienced life as a BBYO teen in Omaha, where the entire organization was founded 90 years ago. While in Omaha, Perlen was able to share his wealth of BBYO knowledge with teens, parents and other supporters. He comes from a Jewish community similar to Omaha and felt right at home. By spending time with local Omaha BBYO teens, Perlen inspired many to get involved with BBYO summer programs and to run for leadership positions, both locally and regionally.

All Omaha teens had the unique opportunity to spend time with these international staff members discussing local chapter matters including membership, recruitment techniques and programming possibilities. We are all very excited for the year ahead!

Teen officers Jordan Saag, Max Gendler, Max Polack, Ammy Wertheim and Jessica Shandell organized Saturday night's Olympics and Havdalah program. There were a multitude of events that tested precision, accuracy, and concentration, such as balancing an egg on a spoon carried by mouth, consuming 10 Saltine crackers and one can of soda as fast as possible, and taking photo "selfies" of all five teammates in a cheerleader-type pyramid.

Following the heated competition, Gendler and Shandell led a beautiful candle-lit Havdalah service. Gendler, who will be a songleader at OSRUI camp next summer, played guitar while Shandell led prayers and songs. The evening program was a blast, and all of the successful weekend events set a positive tone for the year ahead.

Last Tuesday, BBYO teens participated in an Israel advocacy program led by Israel Fellow Eliad Eliyahu Ben Shushan. We learned about the face of Israel in the world, discussed what Israel means to us, and decorated miniature flags to be mailed to IDF military bases to hang on their sukkahs for Sukkot.

BBYO teens sold parve desserts during the past three Backyard Concerts as a fundraiser for Jewish programming. Thank you to those who supported us; we raised more than $250!

We have numerous upcoming events planned, but here are a few to mark on your calendars:

Tuesday, Sept. 30, all Jewish girls in grades 8-12 are invited to join BBG (B'nai B'rith Girls) for a cookie-decorating party for BBG's 70th birthday in the JCC Youth Lounge at 6:15 p.m. Also, registration for International Convention 2015 in Atlanta opens tonight!!

Nov. 7-9: Fall Regional Convention in Kansas City. Travel to Kansas City for the weekend and experience an overnight Shabbat, a community service project, and the chance to make friends from Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minnesota!

Nov. 20: Hunger Games Pre-Screening/Can-tribute: see the third Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay, BEFORE it's released in theaters and participate in a canned food drive. Last year, BBYO raised more than 17,000 pounds of food nationally.

Dec. 26-29: Winter Regional Convention in St. Louis. To attend conventions, teens must be registered as BBYO members.

To register, go to http://bbyo.org/teens/aza_ bbg/become_a_member/. Are you'on Facebook? Please like our Omaha BBYO Facebook page: www.facebook .com/BBYOomaha. This is updated regularly with photos of events and announcements for upcoming programs.

For more information, contact BBYO Director Rachel Martin at rmartin@jccomaha.org, or by phone at 402.334.6404.

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