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Thousands of Jewish Teens from Around the World Celebrate Shabbat Together

November 30, 2011

AZA and BBG Shabbat Program Extends to 70 Communities in Ten Countries

In a unique display of global Jewry, teens from around the world gathered on November 11 – 12 for AZA and BBG Shabbat, an initiative of BBYO, the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish youth movement involving more than 31,000 teens a year. Through AZA and BBG Shabbat, Jewish high school students from 70 communities across eight countries including Bulgaria, Israel, and Ukraine recognized what it means to truly be part of a global Jewish community by coming “together” like never before.

“This Shabbat experience was really amazing knowing that Jewish teens from all over were doing the exact same thing,” said Jake Sorrells, Grand Aleph Shaliach of AZA. “There’s just a great feeling you get by knowing that you are a part of something bigger, and that is the Jewish people.”

This year’s AZA and BBG Shabbats were themed L’Dor V’Dor, “From Generation to Generation” and L’Dor V’Dor Anachnu Mishpacha, “From Generation to Generation, We Are Family.” The themes, which were selected by teen votes, inspired programming meant to celebrate rich, time-honored traditions passed down from those who came before. AZA and BBG Shabbat’s team of teen leaders also released more than a dozen resources to help teens plan their own AZA and BBG Shabbat experiences such as Shabbat services highlighting strong Jewish women throughout history, a program focused on researching family trees, and an activity allowing participants to “backpack through Israel.”

Some examples of AZA and BBG Shabbat celebrations from around the world include:

  • Sofia, Bulgaria: Bulgarian teens “skyping” with smaller communities in Macedonia, Albania and Serbia to light Shabbat candles together
  • Richmond, VA: A Shabbat service focused on Holocaust education followed by a speaker from the Virginia Holocaust Museum
  • Danbury, CT: A discussion on being a Jewish veteran from the US Military
  • Las Vegas, NV: The creation of a time capsule that will be added to annually during AZA and BBG Shabbat
  • Malibu, CA: A “bible raps” style program based on the history of AZA through the decades
  • London, England: A young alumni convention will discuss the concept of L’Dor V’Dor
  • Buffalo Grove, IL: A unique mother/daughters-only Shabbat
  • Petaluma, CA: The writing of a D’var Torah that features the words of BBYO alumni from different decades

“I’m proud of how many teens have planned their own Shabbat experiences through this program,” said Marissa Feinman, AZA and BBG Shabbat Program Coordinator. “This program reminds us of how powerful we are when we come together to celebrate our common heritage.”

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