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Fall flew by with many exciting events—and spring awaits

View this story in the Jewish Community Voice

By Bonnie Doogan, SJR Mazkirah

With the New Year comes a new term for South Jersey Region BBYO. Our fall term flew by and here we are excited and ready for a fantastic spring. In our spring term, we look forward to eighth graders being eligible to join, new chapter leaders serving, and a fresh term to continue the groundwork set in the past few months. Spring is a busy time for SJR and all other regions in the order. We still have some of our favorite annual events, such as Tournies and Spring Thing to look forward to. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; it’s time to reflect on the events of 2015-2016.

In August, SJR held a new and exciting first event of the fall term with SJR’s Kickoff at Camp. Around 200 teens spent the night reuniting, playing sports, tie-dying, eating pizza, playing gaga and enjoying the joy of BBYO being back in action. We spent the night at JCC Camps at Medford and took advantage of having the whole camp to ourselves. Some teens could be found in or around the pool, others on the sports field, and everyone found a place they wanted to be. Regardless of where you were, there was a feeling of togetherness that was surely missed over the summer!

Next up was RLTI, our leadership convention. The first overnight of the year is centered on strengthening individual leadership qualities, team building, problem-solving tactics and improving communication. The weekend included a massive team-building relay that incorporated almost every skill we learned at RLTI. Mini-Station obstacles challenged team work, communication, decision making and more. This standout activity showcased RLTI at its best. Fusing learning with fun and social aspects results in maximum takeaway for each teen.

After a fantastic RLTI, South Jersey’s second-ever Winter Retreat was next. Winter Retreat combines Kallah (centered around Jewish identity and religion) and Brotherhood and Sisterhood (bonding as brother Alephs and sister B’nai B’rith Girls) into one weekend. At Kallah, all participants explored what being Jewish means to them, their connection to Israel and stance on current events there, and how different sects of Judaism practice in daily life. After that, the Alephs and BBGs separated to two different locations. At Brotherhood, the Alephs bonded with each other through sport, an incredible separate programming, and the overall experience of the SJR AZA chapters uniting. For the girls at Sisterhood, the night was spent bonding with our new “bigs” and “littles,” learning how to protect our mind, body, attitude, and more. Overall, there was a light relaxing energy just being in the company of all of your BBG sisters and forgetting who belongs to which chapter.

Most recently, SJR held its Spring Kickoff on the Spirit of Philadelphia to start the second half of the year. We had around 115 teens enjoying an awesome experience and view of downtown. Just like fall kickoff, this was new for us. Going on the boat was an exciting change of pace and great closure for the fall and beginning to the spring.

The first half of the year has been successful, innovative and surely memorable. RLTI and Winter Retreat met and exceeded the high caliber we have set for ourselves. Kickoff and Spring Kickoff were fresh ideas and a great time for all. In total, through the programming you have read about, the work that went into planning, and the teens in attendance to make it all possible, fall 2015 was a fine example as to what BBYO is all about—Providing More Jewish Teens with More Meaningful Jewish Experiences.

That being said, SJR BBYO cannot wait to do even better this spring, starting with Tournies at the Cherry Hill Racquet Club from February 6- 7. Everyone is looking forward to these competitive nightlong spirit competitions between the chapters to see who can take home the titles. .

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