BBYO, Inc. is proud to announce that Estee Portnoy of Bethesda, MD has been elected Chair of BBYO’s International Board of Directors. A sports executive and Jewish philanthropist, Portnoy succeeds Howard Wohl of Mill Neck, NY.
When we were elected as International Presidents of BBYO, Inc., never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be invited to the White House. But there we were today, attending the first-ever White House reception marking Jewish Heritage Month. We began to realize how much our role does not exist in a vacuum, and that although we are teens, we, too, are important Jewish leaders.
This academic year, more than 600 teens from around the country came to Washington, DC to explore public policy and social activism through a Jewish lens as a part of Panim el Panim (PeP), a program with a 20+ year history that is now a part of the PANIM Institute of BBYO. During a total of eight seminars, high school delegations had the opportunity to meet with over fifty Congressional Offices, including special meetings with civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis (D-IL) and Early Act champion and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
More than a foot of snow couldn’t stop over 750 of the world’s leading Jewish communal thinkers – all 18 years of age or younger –from gathering in Dallas, TX Feb. 11-15 for BBYO’s largest International Convention (IC) in its 85-year history. BBYO has been hosting International Conventions since 1924, setting the course for the upcoming year, determining strategies for strengthening BBYO as a youth-led movement and connecting teens to the Jewish community at large. This was BBYO’s most “international” convention in years, bringing together Jewish teens from North America, Bulgaria, Serbia, France, the United Kingdom, Israel and more.
For anyone who has spent hours photo copying prayers out of the siddur (Jewish prayer book) and pasting them onto sheets to make custom services for a youth group or camp setting, a new tool has arrived. BBYO, Inc., the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish youth movement, has recently launched Build a Prayer, an online space where Jews of all backgrounds can connect on a deeply personal level with prayer and Shabbat.
In 2009, BBYO took pride in offering tens of thousands of Jewish families a place where their teens could find joyful Jewish experiences and a reprieve from the stresses so many families faced as a result of the economy. As we celebrate our 85th year, know that BBYO is a greater force than ever in enriching the lives of young people and making the Jewish community more vibrant. Please click to read our 2009 Annual Report.
BBYO members, alumni, parents, family and friends –
We write you with an urgent message regarding the devastation across Haiti following the Caribbean’s worst earthquake in more than 200 years. The basic infrastructure of the country has been shattered. The community is left without schools, hospitals and thousands of homes leaving an estimated 3,000,000 Haitians in need of life essentials like food, shelter and healthcare. The death toll is presumably in the hundreds of thousands, and the need is increasing each day.
As many of you know, BBYO recently became the home for PANIM: The Institute of Jewish Leadership and Values. In bringing on PANIM, it was our expectation that PANIM’s expertise in civics and values programming would provide new opportunities for the Jewish community to engage Jewish teens interested in service, advocacy, philanthropy and grappling with social issues.
Last month, I had an opportunity to visit with 80 teens from four Jewish Day Schools - The Abraham Joshua Heschel School (New York, NY), Chicagoland Jewish High School (Deerfield, IL), Herzl/RHMA (Denver, CO) and Milken Community High School (Los Angeles, CA) - participating in the first Panim el Panim seminar of the year. Since 1988, Panim el Panim has been the cornerstone of PANIM programming, welcoming to DC diverse groups of 10th to 12th grade students from around the country. I had been to Panim el Panim seminars in the past and have always been moved by the ways in which teens feel empowered by their newfound understanding of the political process and the Jewish values entwined in one’s commitment to social action after the program.
Summer 2010 will be a one of a kind experience! With a menu of more than 20 programs designed for all Jewish teens regardless of BBYO membership, BBYO Summer Experiences allows teens to build a dream summer trip to best suit their interests. Teens interested in travel, community service, Judaism, outdoor adventure, college prep or leadership will find a multitude of options to develop leadership skills within a community of Jewish teens who will become lifelong friends.
On November 8th-10th, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee held their annual High School Summit. AIPAC is the largest and most powerful political lobby supporting Israel in the United States. The summit was designed to educate high school students on issues involving the Jewish homeland and on how to get involved in politics while still in high school. Hundreds of students attended the summit, and BBYO send the largest delegation, with over eighty students.
Seventy –eight high school students from around the country came to Washington, DC, for Panim el Panim a four day seminar by PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values of BBYO, to meet participate in service, advocacy and meet with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
More than 3,000 Jewish communal leaders gathered in Washington, DC November 8 – 10 for the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, the annual conference of the Jewish federation system. BBYO teens from the DC area were given the unprecedented opportunity of serving as Teen Digital Reporters, asking GA participants the question do you remember when you thought anything was possible (the GA theme)?
In an effort to engage youth in service, social justice and philanthropy efforts that are meaningful to them, BBYO has launched a campaign called Stand Up: BBYO’s Campaign For Those in Need, aimed at getting teens involved locally with partner organizations that support causes that matter most to their communities.
A fourth generation BBYO member from Memphis, who is the current president of Rose Belz Kriger BBG, has taken her love for the youth organization one step farther - joining BBYO's International Teen Board as new International Sh'licha (vice president of Jewish Heritage) for the 2015-16 programming year.
BBYO Community Engagement Fellow Ryan Ladd witnessed the Student Government Legislative Assembly at The University of Texas at Austin reject a bill calling for the university to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, as a part of the global BDS movement.
“Thank you for changing my life.” That’s what my new Ukrainian friend, Juli Kovaliova, said to me during our last embrace. In a moment filled with the purest sense of emotion, I did not know how to respond. All I could think to say was, “No, thank you. Thank you for changing my life.”