December 11, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 11, 2017
MEDIA CONTACT Debbie Shemony, 202.857.6691; mailto: [email protected]
December 8 & 9, Worldwide—From across the United States, to Canada, throughout Europe and South America, and everywhere in between, hundreds of local BBYO chapters and communities across 20 countries took part in BBYO’s Global Shabbat 2017 this weekend. For this annual highlight, Jewish teen leaders host simultaneous Friday night, Saturday morning, and Havdalah services plus accompanying programs, uniting as a Movement in a truly international celebration of the joy of Shabbat.
Throughout the weekend of December 8 and 9, BBYO teen leaders explored this year’s theme, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), by bringing friends, families, and communities together around interactive and enriching Shabbat programming. These events empowered Jewish teens to engage with and be inspired by a variety of influential “gamechanging” individuals, including local cross-cultural and interfaith leaders, politicians, and entrepreneurs, as well as global figures ranging from refugees to Holocaust survivors.
“This year’s Global Shabbat celebrations were a testament to a shared moment of unity within the Jewish community and beyond,”remarked Noga Hurwitz and Jack Rosenblum, BBYO’s International Teen Presidents of Jewish Heritage. “We’re incredibly proud of the thoughtful dialogue our members engaged in this weekend, and we truly believe that our extensive and inclusive global ‘neighborhood’ feels just a little more connected because of the inspiring Shabbat programs that BBYO teens facilitated around the world.”
Among the diverse array of Global Shabbat experiences offered this year, a few program highlights include:
- Interfaith/cross-cultural Shabbat programming, including a life-sized board game simulating a Syrian refugee's path to safety facilitated by Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAid (San Francisco, CA); a community Shabbat dinner celebrated with Syrian refugee families (Montreal, Quebec); an interfaith Havdalah program in partnership with a local Muslim youth group (Houston, TX); and a Hanukkah-style dinner and gift exchange with charitable donations in partnership with a local church (Vienna, VA).
- Connecting with a broad range of community gamechangers, including Keith Davis, Former NFL player and motivational speaker; Ariel Halpern, Development Associate at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Former Production Associate, The Ellen Degeneres Show; Amy Mercado, Member of the Florida State House of Representatives; Kane Smego, Spoken Word and Hip Hop Artist; Dr. Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University; and Diana Wang, Psychotherapist and President of Generaciones de la Shoa en Argentina.
- Welcoming and inducting Holocaust survivors into AZA and BBG in communities spanning many BBYO regions, including Cotton States Region (CSR): Nashville; Greater Jersey Hudson River Region (GJHRR); Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR): St. Louis; New England Region (NER); and Northern Region East (NRE): DC Council.
“In a time filled with pervasive racial and ethnic injustice, rising antisemitism, and a growing refugee crisis around the world, Global Shabbat is now a more important celebration than ever,” said Rae Williams, BBYO’s Senior Director of Movement Initiatives. “This year’s theme reminds us to embrace all neighbors across our community, our peoplehood, and our world in order to recognize that in the end, we are far more similar than we are different.”
The tradition of welcoming and inducting Holocaust survivors into AZA and BBG was first introduced in July 2015 at BBYO's International Kallah summer program, where eight Holocaust survivors joined an international community of hundreds of Jewish teens in learning, singing, and dancing. Throughout this special Shabbat celebration, participating teens had the opportunity to hear these survivors’ stories and commit to sharing them with future generations. By the end of the weekend, the survivors were also inducted as honorary members of AZA and BBG, as a symbolic way for them to relive their stolen childhoods. BBYO Global Shabbat celebrations this December incorporated this practice as well, serving as a continuation of this meaningful experience around the world.
BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. For more than 90 years, BBYO‘s leadership programs the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA, high school fraternity) and the B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG, high school sorority) have been providing exceptional leadership programs and identity enrichment experiences, shaping the confidence and character of more than 400,000 alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academia, the arts, and Jewish communal life. Now, BBYO’s network of Jewish teens, alumni, parents, volunteers, and philanthropists serves as the Jewish community’s most valuable platform for delivering to the post Bar/Bat Mitzvah audience fun, meaningful, and affordable experiences. With year-round activities in hundreds of local communities and inspiring world-wide travel experiences, BBYO’s broad program menu enables teens to explore areas of leadership, service, civic engagement, Israel education, and Jewish values.
Please note that BBYO should not be referred to as the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, but rather as “BBYO.”
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