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South Jersey Region’s future is bright at IT 2016

View this story in the Jewish Community Voice

By BEN CURWIN Regional Mazkir

On Friday, April 1, the newest members of South Jersey Region gathered at the JCC Camps at Medford for our IT convention. The acronym stands for “in training,” which is used to describe these fledgling but capable Alephs and BBGs. This overnight convention was used to help these new members (primarily 8th and 9th graders with select upperclassmen) learn, understand and further develop their love for BBYO. With all attendees excited for the programs to come, the convention finally began.

The coordinators for the convention were SJR’s regional Moreh and Mit-mom, Ben Berk and Dara Molotsky, respectively. At the beginning of the convention, Ben and Dara welcomed the young members and introduced them to the skilled committee that helped to make the convention possible.

“Our duty as regional board members is to not only serve for the region as it stands, but to ensure the region’s success by inspiring a younger generation,” said Berk, a senior at Eastern, about his experience planning IT. “After running this IT, I know I’m leaving SJR in more than capable hands of our young, aspiring leaders.”

Chelsea Stern, a sophomore at Cherry Hill East, had the honor of working on the steering committee. “My experience on IT committee was incredibly rewarding because not only was I able to watch my programs turn out successfully,” she said, “but I also learned so much about planning conventions on a regional scale.”

The weekend began with a thrilling round of fun icebreakers. The highlight of these games was a special tournament style version of the classic rock-paper-scissors in which the overall winner, Josh Chazin, walked away with a portable phone charger. Following programs included an exhilarating one in which the members used little games to make connections with one another in small groups. One such game involved using a variety of zany props to create a live picture. The addictive game of Wah was also played, to the enjoyment of all.

Other programs experienced on the first night included a thought-provoking group discussion about finding your voice in BBYO. The members also enjoyed a delicious meal of ziti and salad. To end the night, the boys and girls separated for the serious programs of the convention where they discussed deep, profound topics and concluded with high-energy spirit circles, the first for many young members. The next day, the members learned about the many different board positions for which they will have the opportunity to run. Aside from the many responsibilities held by each position, the members were also informed on a variety of problems that each board member may face and were tasked with the duty to help them solve their obstacles. Then, the members were led on a “tour of Israel” around the camp, visiting and discussing many famous landmarks. The first half of the day was concluded with team-building games that were both enjoyable and informative on how to succeed while working with others.

Later in the day, the members were given the choice to attend three of a number of different electives, each pertaining to a specific topic. Some electives, for example, focused on how to pitch BBYO to prospects in a professional, engaging manner, how to plan a successful program, and how to make an impact on the region. A special elective was led by guest Lauren Keats, the 91st International N’siah of BBYO, where she taught members on the BBYO experiences that teens have in a few of the many other countries in which the organization exists. Her elective also took a look at the spread of anti-Semitism and the effect it still has in these countries and the world as a whole.

The night, and the convention, ended with a beautiful graduation service that was attended by the proud parents of the young members. The new Alephs and BBGs went up with their chapters and spoke to their parents about the fun they had at the convention and, more importantly, the many great lessons that were imbued within them. Each member then received a graduation certificate and a commemorative T-shirt. Everyone who was in attendance at IT walked away feeling like full-fledged members of BBYO who were ready, willing, and able to partake in active leadership roles in their chapters and in SJR.

Sophomore Seth Heller, one of the older members there, praised the convention profusely: “IT gave me a chance to come out of my comfort zone and be a true leader.”

“I had a great time at IT. I spent time with all my friends, and made new ones too, while sharpening the skills it takes to become a leader in and out of BBYO,” said Jed Friedman, a freshman in Otzma AZA who has already risen to the position of Mazkir for his chapter. IT was once again an educational, diverse, and exhilarating convention. It remains one of the most meaningful and important events that SJR has to offer its members.

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