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Joining Jewish youth group opens up new world

By Rebecca Balchunas
Junior, Wilson

In May 2010, I was just trying to make it through my last couple weeks of junior high school. I had recently joined a small youth group, BBYO, which stands for B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. It's a youth group for Jewish teens in grades eight through 12. Not only have I made a bunch of new friends, but I also believe this program has made me a better Jew.

Periodically, BBYO travels to another city and joins a bunch of other groups for weekend conventions. Unfortunately, I had conflicts during the first ones and could not make it. Finally, it was the last convention of the year and I was free. My mom signed me up and I was so excited!

When we arrived at the convention, there were many people I didn't know so I followed another girl in my group to a table and asked her if I could sit with her. She said that was fine and introduced me to her friends. One of the people I met that day I got along with really well, and today she is one of my best friends. Even though we live two hours apart, we talk constantly. I can trust her with any of my secrets and she knows I'm always there for her. Along the way I have made other friends, too. I love them dearly.

Since I joined, BBYO has made a huge impact on my life.

I enjoy going to services more, and my Jewish identity has gotten stronger. This summer, I will be going away for 12 days to a camp specifically for BBYO people. The other people I am going with, whom I have connected with through Facebook, make me realize that I am not alone in the impact BBYO has made.

One of the girls I'm going with, Sophie Mann, a sophomore at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, Calif., says, "BBYO changes your life, as long as you put your life in BBYO."

This is definitely true. If I hadn't gone back to another convention, it wouldn't have made such an impact. It's been such a life-changer for me from the very beginning, both socially and mentally.

Without BBYO I know my life would be extremely different. And with that I remain Rebecca Allison Balchunas, a proud member of Reading BBYO.

BBYO International Office
800 Eighth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
P: 202.857.6633 / F: 202.857.6568

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