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Toronto Teen Elected to BBYO International Board

Read this story in Shalom Life

As Jews, we all know the importance of giving back to our respective communities, and as Jewish parents, we do what we can to pass on vital Jewish values, including volunteering, to our children.

Recently those efforts came to fruition with Toronto’s Amanda Freedman being elected to BBYO’s 2014-2015 International Board.

Freedman, a 17-year-old grade 12 student at The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, and the daughter of former UJA Women’s Philanthropy Chair Judith Finer Freedman and Jeremy Freedman, CEO of Gluskin Sheff & Associates, was elected as the 70th International N’siah (President of the B’nai B’rith Girls, BBYO’s division for young women).

In her new role, Amanda will serve at the helm of 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.

Amanda will defer her freshman year at Tufts University and travel the world being an ambassador for Jewish teens.

“It still hasn’t sunken in yet that I have this amazing opportunity to inspire Jewish teens and serve the Jewish people,” says Amanda. “I’m excited to meet so many incredible people who work hard to make their communities stronger and our Jewish future brighter. What I look forward to most is waking up each morning with each day being a new adventure.”

“When I was being installed as Chair of UJA Toronto Women's Philanthropy in 2007, I wanted to make sure that our children were involved in the event,” says Amanda’s proud mother Judith. “All three of our children said a poem or prayer that represented Canada, Israel and the U.S. As I watched Amanda embrace her Jewish peers after being elected, I was reminded of that evening when she addressed the Jewish women of Toronto. As Jewish parents, we try our best to teach our children to stand up and be counted as Jews, and it with a supreme honour and pride that my husband Jeremy and I watch Amanda beginning her adult life in doing so.”

Amanda was one of 26 Toronto area teens who attended BBYO’s largest annual International Convention (IC) in Dallas, Texas. Themed “Welcome Home – Every Jewish Teen, Anywhere,” the convention brought together nearly 2,000 teens plus hundreds of stakeholders from 20 countries for a historic weekend of global Jewish engagement.

And the young future leaders were in good company with the conference kicking-off with a video address from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In his video appearance, the Israeli prime minister lauded the 90-year history of BBYO, saying, “I join you all in celebrating BBYO’s 90th anniversary…BBYO encourages young Jews of all backgrounds to be proud of their heritage… you're helping to create a human bridge to connect the young generation of American Jews with the young generation of Israeli Jews… and I want to encourage you, for the next 90 years, to continue doing exactly that.”

“BBYO has helped me understand that I am a part of something much greater than myself – the global Jewish community – and shown me that when Jews from all walks of life come together, we have the power to change the world,” adds Amanda.

BBYO receives support from the UJA Campaign and is a partner agency of UJA Federation.

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