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Fun for new BBYO members

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, anxious Jewish teens from around the city, representing many different high schools, gathered at the Merfish Teen Center for the annual new member "pick up" event for the B'nai Brith Youth Organization. Members In-Training (girls) and Alephs-In-Training (boys) - about 150 teens total - were placed in the 10 Houston chapters. They arrived at the Merf, assembled on the basketball court and were welcomed by Regional board members.

After their welcome, they were sent to rooms inside the building that were decorated by current chapter members to show chapter spirit. The MTTS and AITS were given a basket of fun, spirited small gift items, and were engaged in getting to-know-you activities. After the initial welcome at the Merf, the fun continued as the current members took their new recruits to parks, held scavenger hunts around the city, went roller skating, and participated in other activities in private homes.

Gillian Lindenberg and Sarah Yonas, staff of BBYO, spent countless hours of hard work to make this event a success for the teens. Lindenberg, senior Regional director, explained, "We wanted to give the new members a warm welcome into BBYO and into their chapter(s) and make them feel special and excited about our organization." She added that it is not too late for teens to join BBYO. If you or your teen are interested, call the Lonestar Regional office of BBYO at 713-659-9871.

The next big event for BBYO has been in the works, according to Logan Stalarow, who serves as Regional aleph moreh, and member of Houston's Randy Reisbord AZA since early September. Along with Emma Danziger, Regional MIT Mom, and member of Houston's BBG #63, the two have planned the MIT/AIT 2015: Lonestars and Stripes Forever Convention scheduled for Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Stalarow said, "We hope to have record attendance this year and build passion and excitement around BBYO. We also want to educate the new members all about BBYO and what makes our organization so special." He added, "This is our chance to get the new members 'hooked' on BBYO, and what it is all about. They get to connect with teens from Austin and San Antonio and make lots of new friends."

The new member convention will be held at Camp Pine Cove in Columbus, Texas. Early bird registration for price reduction ends Oct. 12, and regular registration ends on Oct. 18. Any questions call 713-659-9871, and to gain more information visit bbyo. org/region/lonestar. Highlights of the convention will include a performance by a kosher hypnotist, a Shabbat celebration, musical guests Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman, a great dance after Havdalah and, of course, lots of team-building and bonding with other chapter members. Accommodations may be possible if you or your teen cannot stay the entire weekend. Staffers are willing to work with parents and teens so that all may have the opportunity to share in this worthwhile event for Jewish teens. Email Yonas at syonas@bbyo. org.

Good luck to all new MITs and AITs for fun and worthwhile Jewish learning and social experiences! The special events will be meaningful to you but, more importantly, the personal connections and friendships made will be long-lasting bonds that will continue well after BBYO life. Any news to share that I may relay to JHV teen readership, please email me at

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