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So, what’s a BBYO convention like?

Read this story in the Cleveland Jewish News.

Between April 30 and May 3, the Ohio Northern Region of BBYO held its annual spring convention. To learn more about the largest regional BBYO event, CJN Teen Talk Editor Cathy Perloff talked with Giliann Karon, one of the events coordinators. Karon is a junior at Laurel School in Shaker Heights and attends The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood and Cleveland.

What was the purpose of the convention?

To elect a regional board so they can come together for more programming, specifically more Jewish programming. Judaism wasn’t the main focus of this convention. The focus was to elect the new regional board and skill building, which we touched on in some of the programming as well.

What kinds of activities take place at the convention?

The elections take about seven hours. The first hour is question and answer for all the candidates. Then each candidate will give a 10-minute for a position for more questions and answers possibly and to give their speech. The voting takes a little while. The elections are only one day. Thursday night is just a little bit of programming. The majority of Friday is elections and there is a more programming at night. Saturday is electives; so each of the coordinators plan their electives and there is also steering committee which helps out with the convention. And then there’s the Saturday morning Torah service.

How did this year differ from conventions past?

It’s very similar in that sense. Each convention has a new identity. Each group of coordinators gives the convention a new personality because we put so much of ourselves into conventions. For example, I led a sisterhood programing that focused on girl-hate because I’m a big feminist which is widely known in the region. We had a mock Knesset election because one of the other coordinators is really into politics.

Does everyone at the convention have a leadership role or are there simply participants?

The majority of the people there are participants. They don’t have leadership opportunities within the convention itself. But BBYO does a really good job at presenting lots of opportunities for every kid whether it be in their specific chapters or in the region as a whole.

Did the convention honor deceased senior regional director Todd Kay in any way?

We did at the convention that was a week or so after he passed away. At this particular convention, there’s a banquet Saturday night and awards are given out and parents are invited. So the we had the Kay family speak and that in itself honored him. Also, ONR has a basketball league and Kay always wore No. 23 because he was a big sports fan and because 23 is the number of our region. And in honor of his passing, the regional office chose to retire his number and all the jerseys he has with No. 23 on them will be saved and given to his sons. A lot of the staff mentioned Todd in their speeches because he was really close to all of us.

Given that the purpose of this convention is elections did the fact that not everyone can win the election affect people’s enjoyment at the convention?

I ran for a position and lost; it’s not worth losing sleep about it. People were sad over elections but it didn’t affect elections as a whole.

What was your favorite memory from the convention as a whole?

There’s so many, it’s hard to put my finger on one. I liked seeing everyone so happy all the time, especially at the end of the convention when everyone was posting online about how much fun they had this weekend. It was so fulfilling to know I was part of that. Of course at the regional office you play a huge part. We have fun at any convention but it was fulfilling to know that I had played a part in that. It was very hard to do. It required a lot of time and a lot of energy. But it was absolutely worth it.

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