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International Convention 2010: Dream Big, Act Bigger

February 19, 2010

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.

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With a convention theme entitled, “Dream Big. Act Bigger,” participants set their focus on making a difference in the world immediately as a movement of 28,000 teens. The weekend was originally headlined by the Day of Service, in which teen participants would disperse throughout Dallas to more than two dozen service sites, but plans changed due to inclement weather. Instead, the teens participated in an advocacy simulation, choosing an issue of importance lobby "Congress" and then find out whether they were successful. The Day of Service was framed with Jewish serving learning and skill-building sessions on creating social change through community organizing, coalition building, philanthropy and community service.

In addition to the Day of Service, IC 2010 highlights include:

  • A Day of Learning on Shabbat, with 20+ learning sessions throughout the day and multiple services to choose from allowing the teen participants to customize their own Jewish experience.
  • The presentation of several awards including AZA and BBG Alumni of the Year awards to Carol Aaron of Dallas, TX and Lee Wunsch of Houston, TX and the David Bittker Unsung Hero Award for outstanding advisors to David Finer of Tulsa, OK.
  • The presentation of BBYO Excellence in Programming awards to the 100 winners of the more than 400 applicants from BBYO chapters and individual teens.
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  • A “Think Pink” dinner to benefit breast cancer awareness, bringing together male and female survivors and headlined with a special video keynote address by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
  • A pre-IC "Regional Execs Conference" focused on developing BBYO’s 5-year strategic plan and discussing BBYO’s disaster relief efforts for the devastation in Haiti. Participants also prepared a letter to be sent to President Obama discussing the prospect of nuclear proliferation in Iran.

Finally, the 10 teens who will serve at the helm of the world's leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement as members of the International Boards were elected at IC and include:

President (Grand Aleph Godol): Jeremy Sherman of West Bloomfield, MI

VP of Programming (Grand Aleph S'gan): Daniel Cooper of Potomac, MD

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VP of Membership (Grand Aleph Moreh): Jesse Schor of Marlton, NJ

Secretary and Treasurer (Grand Aleph Mazkir): Jason Gordon of Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Jewish and Israel Education, Community Service and Social Action VP (Grand Aleph Shaliach): Bobby Dishell of Pacific Palisades, CA

President (International N'siah): Arielle Braude of Cherry Hill, NJ

VP of Programming (International S'ganit): Carly Gaynes of Atlanta, GA

VP of Membership (International Aym Ha-Chaverot): Orli Berman of Bethesda, MD

Secretary and Treasurer (International Mazkirah): Sharon Leshner of Marlton, NJ

Jewish and Israel Education, Community Service and Social Action VP (International Sh'licha): Sarah Arnold of Memphis, TN

“International Convention, as a whole, was particularly meaningful because it allowed for teens from literally all over the world to come together under one powerful, spiritual medium: Judaism,” said Rebecca Pinsky of Richmond, VA. “Meeting new people, exploring new customs, and refining tradition were all part of the exquisite tradition BBYO’s International Convention.”

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Visit www.bbyoicblog.org to see BBYO's 2009 International Convention Live Blog, featuring videos, photos and teen-written testimonials that were updated each and every day!

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