Teens gather for BBYO Lonestar Region’s Regional Kallah
View this story in the Jewish Herald Voice
From March 4 to 6, Texas Jewish teens from Houston, Austin and San Antonio came together at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Houston Greenway Plaza for BBYO Lonestar Region’s Maccabia Lonestar: Regional Kallah 2016. The convention gave them an opportunity to learn how to strengthen their BBYO chapters, celebrate their Jewish identity through Shabbat programming and have fun with their Jewish peers. This was the largest Regional Kallah’s Lonestar ever has had, with 236 teens in attendance.
The convention kicked off with a Friday Night Shabbat Service, led by Austin-based song leaders Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman. It was followed by a girls-only program about poetry and works from Jewish poets Hannah Senesh and Rachel Bluwstein, and a boys-only program about Jewish heroes and the impact that each member can have on his community.
On Saturday, members of the convention’s Minyan Committee offered four different services to attendees. Each service had a unique theme and gave participants the chance to pray different ways. Rachel Tabin, a freshman from BBG #63, planned the BBG service and described her experience by saying, “I was so empowered! It was such an unbelievable moment when all the girls in the room came together and sang.”
In the AZA service, the congregation learned about different Israel military and Zionist heroes. “I really enjoyed the AZA service. I found it very powerful and it gave me quite a bit to think about,” said Isadore Shapiro AZA junior Oren Pazga.
Two coed services were offered. One focused on how each member has a different reason for loving BBYO, and that is what makes Lonestar such a unique and special region. The other focused on learning about the prayers through debate. The teens leading the service gave an overview of what the prayer is about and then posed discussion questions for the participants to debate.
Following services, members took part in a wide range of programming, including a BBYO Village, where teens rotated through various 10 stations themed on the BBYO chapters’ community service causes, Israel and BBYO summer programs.
Evan Diebner, a senior from Jack Lubel AZA, loved the BBYO Village: “It was awesome to get to do so many cool things and help out different organizations at my last BBYO convention. It’s been a great four years in BBYO and in Lonestar.”
Regional Kallah also offered a Leadership Training Institute, where teens were able to participate in one of six workshops to strengthen their BBYO leadership skills. The LTI kicked off with a impactful keynote address from Daron Roberts, founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at The University of Texas. He later lead a motivating workshop with chapter presidents and the soon-to-graduate seniors. Other workshops included: Membership and Recruitment, Social Media Marketing, Program Excellence, Shabbat Service Planning and Fundraising.
Themed around the Maccabia Games in Israel, Kallah featured its own Maccabia Games where chapters were split up into different countries. They made banners and cheers for their country and competed in games including: three-legged gaga, a pattern puzzle, soccer and sheet volleyball. All of the activities were led by teens who helped to plan the convention and all were a huge success.
On Saturday night, the juniors competing to be chapter beau and sweetheart (noms) participated in the annual Battle of the Noms program. At Battle of the Noms, chapters competed against each other in Minute to Win It-style games. It gave chapters the opportunity to bond with their nominees for beau and sweetheart and to cheer on their chapters. After many races and a final competition, the Douglas Loeb AZA noms were victorious!
Jewish eighth-graders were invited on Saturday night to experience BBYO at Havdalah, Battle of the Noms and the Dance Party. More than 30 eighth- graders were in attendance and loved getting to spend time with the chapters, and understand how BBYO works.
Kallah was planned by Teen Convention coordinators, Sam Kaminsky of Houston and Maia Suez of Austin, in partnership with a 50-member steering committee and Lonestar regional board. The committee met weekly and planned the entire weekend in under two months.
To find out more information or to get involved with BBYO or the Taste of BBYO Program for eighth-graders, contact Sarah Yonas firstname.lastname@example.org.