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USY and BBYO Election Night Bash

Read this story in Washington Jewish Week

Over 500 Jewish teenagers from United Synagogue Youth and BBYO gathered at the Dave and Busters restaurant on Rockville Pike for an election night party Tuesday. Between snacking at the buffet and playing arcade games, the too-young-to-voters watched elections results roll in on giant screens.

"This is the first time USY and BBYO combined to do anything," said Miles Greenspoon, a USYer from Baltimore. "We're accomplishing what congress can't. Regardless of how we associate Jewishly or socially, we can get together and have fun this one night."

Greenspoon, who will turn 18 on November 18th, was "very upset" to have just missed out on being able to vote. But it didn't stop him from being engaged in the campaigns.

"This is the first time I really watched both sides. I was disappointed that they spent more time attacking each other than promoting their own side."

For Sydney Exler, 17 of Olney, the campaigns were interesting to watch play out on Facebook posts. Exler, the regional president for the Seaboard region of USY enjoyed watching all the debates and viewed the 2012 campaign as a "practice for when I can really vote."

And when she does vote, "Israel will be really important. It is not the only factor, but I'll look out for things that help the Jews and Israel."

Like Greenspoon, she was excited to partner with BBYO, "in the end, we're all Jewish teens. It's nice to come together."

As states were called, teens colored maps either red or blue. Maryland State Delegate Brian Feldman was scheduled to speak. And at 9:30 p.m., attendees at the Maryland event planned to Skype live with teens in Ohio.

BBYO had sent close to 100 teens from across the country, including 17 from the DC area, to Ohio for their first ever "Voice Your Vote Summit." Teens worked with both the Romney and Obama campaigns, participated in educational sessions focused on current events through a bipartisan and Jewish values lens and gained the skills to be civically involved after the election.

Being involved with the youth group "opened our eyes to being a part of something bigger," said Jenna Kress, 17, of Bethesda. Before, "the government seemed so big and so far away. But this shows us how we can involve ourselves in big things and make a difference. That even a small act makes a difference."

Kress, along with Brandon Meyers, serves as presidents of the DC Council BBG and AZA. Said Meyers, 17, "Even though we live in DC, we didn't realize what we could do. We can lobby. We can get a group of teens together and see what's going on."

Last week, Kress, along with other area teens, attended AIPAC's Schusterman Advocacy Institute. "We were supposed to lobby, but the hurricane prevented it. But the fact that we were supposed to go to Congress and tell them what we think is incredible."

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