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Columbus teens elected to BBYO International Board

Read this story in The Ohio Jewish Chronicle 

Two Columbus teens, Hunter Cohn and Jake Davis, were recently elected to the BBYO International Board at the BBYO International Convention (IC) 2015. Cohn and Davis joined more than 2,200 other Jewish teens from 20 countries for the annual International Convention, held in Atlanta, Feb. 12-16. The IC began 90 years ago as a way for BBYO members around the world to connect. The JCC extends warm congratulations to Hunter Cohn and Jake Davis, who were recently elected to the BBYO International Board at the BBYO International Convention (IC) 2015.

Cohn, a junior at New Albany High School, and Davis, a junior at Bexley High School, each have been regional board members, having joined Columbus BBYO AZA in 8thgrade.

Cohn’s journey to the International Convention Board began with his desire to deepen his connection to Judaism through BBYO.

“BBYO’s given me such great leadership opportunities,” he said. “This is the next step and is really exciting. The connections and friendships I have made with kids all over the world are amazing. Thanks to BBYO, I know someone who lives in almost every state in the U.S., and I have made new friends with kids from countries all over the globe, like Argentina, Bulgaria, and Uruguay.”

Cohn was elected as Shaliach, which means he will be instrumental in planning Jewish enrichment opportunities for BBYO participants internationally. In this role, he will be a part of the 10-member teen Board that will help chart the organization’s vision for the coming year and provide leadership and support to teen leaders in local communities throughout the BBYO system. “I really want to show kids how Judaism can be fun and cool, so that it becomes something they are excited about and want to share with others. Columbus is a really great city and we have a lot of awesome Jewish things going on, so this is going to show the rest of the world how much great stuff we have to offer and get kids around here more excited about their Judaism,” Cohn explained.

Davis, too, is excited for the opportunities that lie ahead as part of the International Board, to shape both the future of BBYO on an international scale and to bring greater awareness to the local chapters of Columbus BBYO. “It’s an amazing feeling and an awesome thing for Columbus BBYO and especially Columbus AZA. It doesn’t happen a lot where you get two kids from the same city elected to the International Board. It’s kind of unprecedented, so it’ll really place a lot of attention on us in a really good light. We’re going to have to rise to the expectations of the International BBYO, and I’m really confident that Columbus BBYO can do that,” Davis said.

He looks forward to sharing BBYO with other teens and showing them, “If you work hard, BBYO can help you make really good connections and will reward you with leadership opportunities or these incredible experiences, like the IC.” In his position on the International Board, Davis will serve as Moreh, which is responsible for helping to shape local, regional, and international recruitment efforts. “I’m really excited to be able to see the way that all the regions in BBYO recruit and to help build up regions that need more help and motivate the regions that are already doing a great job to do an even better job,” Davis added.

In addition to the honor of being elected to the International Board, at the IC Cohn and Davis were able to participate in the Summit on Jewish Teens. 250 of the Jewish community’s most influential thought leaders and philanthropists attended to engage teens in Jewish life now and in the future. This included a video welcome from Shimon Peres, former President of Israel. IC 2015 was also host to the Coalition of Jewish Teens. As part of the convention, teen leaders from the five major youth movements (BBYO, NCSY, NFTY, USY and Young Judaea) met 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.”

BBYO, the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement, has been providing exceptional leadership programs and identity enrichment experiences, shaping the confidence and character of more than 400,000 alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academic, the arts, and Jewish communal life.

Columbus Teens in grades 8 and up can join now, and those interested may contact BBYO City Director Mark Moscardino at mmoscardino@columbusjcc.org or call 614-559-6218 for more information.

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