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Houston Teens Attend Largest IC in BBYO’s 90-Year History

Read this story in the Jewish Herald-Voice

Over Presidents’ Day weekend, nearly 100 Houston, Austin and San Antonio teens attended BBYO’s largest annual International Convention in Dallas. Themed “Welcome Home – Every Jewish Teen, Anywhere,” the convention brought together nearly 2,000 teens and hundreds of stakeholders from 20 countries for a historic weekend of global Jewish engagement. A delegation from NFTY joined BBYO.

“The IC was an amazing experience that helped me, once again, realize how amazing it is to be a part of the Jewish community,” said Sarah Guccione of Ra’naan BBG. “It really showed me that no matter where we live across the world, we are all connected, and will always have a friend, no matter where we go in the world.”

Opening ceremonies were highlighted by video addresses from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Union for Reform Judaism president Rabbi Rick Jacobs addressed the crowd on the growing effort to create cooperation, rather than competition, among the movements.

In his video, Netanyahu lauded the 90-year history of BBYO: “I join you all in celebrating BBYO’s 90th anniversary. … BBYO encourages young Jews of all backgrounds to be proud of their heritage … you’re helping to create a human bridge to connect the young generation of American Jews with the young generation of Israeli Jews … and I want to encourage you, for the next 90 years, to continue doing exactly that.”

The convention body also heard from Lynn Schusterman of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Ted Perlman (son of founding member of the B’nai B’rith Girls, Anita Perlman) and were treated to a surprise appearance by singer songwriter Aloe Blacc, whose song, “Wake Me Up,” became the unofficial anthem of IC.

On Friday, Feb. 14, nearly 2,000 teens participated in BBYO StandUP Day, which began with a plenary featuring inspirational change makers. The teens then participated in a large-scale service and advocacy project in collaboration with the Dallas Division of the American Heart Association. The teens learned Hands-Only CPR and trained hundreds of local middle school students in the technique. They also filmed a public service announcement.

The convention continued with a Sabbath filled with 24 different teen-led service opportunities for prayer spanning the Jewish spectrum. Saturday was dubbed Limmud IC, a day of learning featuring more than 100 session options facilitated by influential thought, business and clergy leaders.

Other notable events included the State of the Order from current leaders Grand Aleph Godol Mika Stein and International N’siah Michaela Brown, followed by the election of the next international board, a 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.

The convention body closed out a week of fun and learning with entertainment from the 90th Anniversary Founders’ Festival and Texas State Fair.

“IC was an experience where I came in expecting nothing but the best,” said Joseph Minkowitz of Loeb AZA. “I wasn’t disappointed.” 

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