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Memphis BBYOers travel to Baltimore for BBYO International Convention

A delegation of Memphis BBYO teens joined more than 4,000 teen leaders, educators, professionals and philanthropists from 48 states and 27 countries who gathered in Baltimore from February 11 -15 to hear from distinguished change makers and break a Guinness World Record for the largest Shabbat dinner ever at BBYO International Convention (IC) 2016.

With an attendance growth of 182 per cent since 2012, IC 2016 served as a dynamic meeting place and real-world classroom providing today's teen leaders an invaluable opportunity to join together for insights, shared leadership resources and new skills they will use to change the world.

"Being at IC truly felt like being home, but with 2,400 brothers and sisters from around the world," said Memphian Daniel Slovis, a student at Lausanne Collegiate School. "I couldn't have imagined a more amazing experience, learning from some of the community's most influential leaders and change agents and meeting so many amazing people that I was able to create lasting friendships with. Now, back in Memphis, I am more inspired than ever to lead the Jewish community into a bright future."

For the second consecutive year, The Jim Joseph Foundation, Maimonides Fund, The Marcus Foundation, the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds and The Schusterman Family Foundation hosted the Summit on Jewish Teens during the first 24 hours of IC 2016. With nearly 350 of the Jewish community's most influential thought leaders and philanthropists in attendance, the Summit served as a unique opportunity for participants to discuss bolstering teen engagement in Jewish life now and in the future. This year's featured speaker was New York Times Commentator David Brooks.

"As enormous changes unfold around us and throughout the world, BBYO's leadership, both teen and adult, realize that the future of the Jewish community is brighter when we all come together," said Matthew Grossman, BBYO Chief Executive Officer. "With 2,400 teens joining together at IC 2016, this event truly offers a unique opportunity for them to see how the BBYO local experience translates into being part of something bigger than themselves - the global Jewish people."

Cornell Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP; Justin Baldoni, American actor and director; Casey Neistat, film director and popular YouTube Creative; Meighan Stone, president of The Malala Fund; Dr. Einat Wilf, Israel's Roving Ambassador; and award winning singer and songwriter, Jason Derulo were all part of IC 2016.

Other highlights of the event included:

Surprise welcome videos by Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau: During IC Opening Ceremonies, attendees were surprised by welcome videos from two prominent world leaders who encouraged teens to "celebrate their Jewish identity, learn from one another and make their voices heard." Prime Minister Trudeau further congratulated the BBYO Canadian delegation on reaching a milestone 90-year anniversary in Canada. Opening ceremonies also included remarks and guest appearances by Alan Gill and Jonathan Kolker, CEO and Past President, respectively, of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Jeffrey Kalinksy, VP and Designer Fashion Director at Nordstrom and BBYO Alum; Ira Lipman, CEO and Founder of Guardsmark; and Rabbi Carlos Tapiero, Deputy Director General of the Maccabi World Union. BBYO Leads Plenary: A morning of guest speakers inspired IC participants to further their leadership skills, global awareness and impact on the world. Speakers included Cornell Brooks; Gideon Lichtman, Retired U.S. Air Force Pilot and Founding Member of the Israeli Air Force; Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO, KIND Snacks; Geena Rocero, Transgender Advocate and Model; and Dr. Einat Wilf.

A Record Breaking Shabbat: In addition to choosing from 23 pluralistic teen-led Shabbat services, teens took part in the unique experience of breaking a Guinness World Record by joining-together for the largest Shabbat dinner ever at IC 2016. Other notable events included the State of the Order from current leaders - Grand Aleph Godol or President of AZA, Colin Silverman (Chicago, IL) and International N'siah or President of BBG, Lauren Keats (Scarsdale, NY) alongside their peer leaders on the International Board, followed on Sunday by the election of the next International Board, a ten-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.

On Sunday night, February 14, the IC body closed out an incredible week of fun and learning with a celebration of all they accomplished and all they have to look forward to. This celebration was a concert featuring performances by electronic dance music group Cash Cash, alternative rock band The Mowgli's and, headlining the night, award winning singer and songwriter Jason Derulo.

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