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BBYO North Florida Region sweeps awards at International Convention

Read this story in Heritage Florida Jewish News

At the BBYO International Convention (IC 2015) this year, held Feb. 12-16, Jay Kohler, volunteer adviser of Rebels AZA #442, was selected out of hundreds of advisers around the country as the Adviser of the Year. Jonah Goldberg, a junior at Lake Mary Prep School, and Corey Cohen, a senior at Edgewater High School and current chapter president, had the honor of presenting the award to Kohler in front of over 2,000 of their peers at the Saturday night ceremony.

"We've known Jay for over three years now, and we have learned so much from him. Other than educating us on things like how to run a business meeting, Jay has taught us how to be strong leaders in the community and honorable young men as well," said Cohen.

IC 2015 is an annual event that began 90 years ago as a way for BBYO members to connect once a year, but has now grown to be a setting for individuals across the Jewish community to learn, lead and work together toward ensuring a strong Jewish future, spearheaded by the next generation. This year, 30 Orlando teens joined more than 2,200 Jewish teens (a 24 percent increase from 2014) and 1,100 Jewish adults-including some of the community's top educators, professionals and philanthropists-from 20 countries to meet in Atlanta for this unprecedented moment.

Additionally, on Sunday evening, North Florida Region was awarded the Anita Perlman Spirit Cup. This prestigious award is sought after by all of the regions through a convention-wide spirit competition. The convention body closed out an incredible week of fun and learning with "BBYO IS: Stronger Together," a celebration of all that they accomplished and all to look forward to. The event featured performances by rap, reggae, pop and indie rock band Aer, hip hop and rap artist Flo Rida and electronic DJ and producer Kap Slap.

"Being at IC truly felt like being home-but with more than 2,200 brothers and sisters from around the world," said Arielle Cohen, junior at Edgewater High School. "I couldn't have imagined a more amazing experience, learning from some of the community's most influential leaders and change agents. Now, back in Orlando, I am more inspired than ever to lead the Jewish community into a bright future."

For the first time ever, The Jim Joseph Foundation, The Marcus Foundation, The Schusterman Family Foundation and The Paul E. Singer Foundation hosted the Summit on Jewish Teens during the first 24 hours of IC 2015. Two hundred and fifty of the Jewish community's most influential thought leaders and philanthropists attended to converse with each other, and with teens, about how to engage this age group in Jewish life now and in the future.

IC 2015 was also host to the Coalition of Jewish Teens (CJT). Teen leadership from the five major youth movements (BBYO, NCSY, NFTY, USY and Young Judaea) met for 24 hours concurrently to the Summit on Jewish Teens to strategically plan ways Jewish teens everywhere can work across organizational borders to build a stronger, united Jewish community. They drafted a mission statement for their work moving forward: "We, the Coalition of Jewish Teens, stand united to shape the Jewish future through shared Jewish values."

"BBYO's leadership, both teen and adult, realize that the future of the Jewish community is brighter when we all come together," said Matthew Grossman, BBYO chief executive officer. "IC 2015 was an exciting step in making that happen and we're looking forward to continuing this collaboration."

For more information about BBYO, please contact Lory Conte at LConte@bbyo.org or 407-621-4032.

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