Largest Teen Gathering of the Year Inspires Jewish Youth and Adults to Do Great Things


MEDIA CONTACT  Debbie Shemony, 202.857.6691; [email protected]

Largest Teen Gathering of the Year Inspires Jewish Youth and Adults to Do Great Things
BBYO International Convention (IC) 2016 Feb 11-15 Welcomes Industry Leaders, Breaks Guinness World Record for Largest Shabbat Dinner in the World

More than 4,000 teen leaders, educators, professionals and philanthropists from 48 states and 27 countries gathered in Baltimore from February 11-15 to hear from distinguished change makers and break a Guinness World Record for the largest Shabbat dinner ever at BBYO International Convention (IC) 2016. With an attendance growth of 182% since 2012, IC 2016 served as a dynamic meeting place and real-world classroom providing today’s teen leaders an invaluable opportunity to join together for insights, shared leadership resources and new skills they will use to change the world.

For the second consecutive year, The Jim Joseph Foundation, Maimonides Fund, The Marcus Foundation, the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds and The Schusterman Family Foundation hosted the Summit on Jewish Teens during the first 24 hours of IC 2016. With nearly 350 of the Jewish community’s most influential thought leaders and philanthropists in attendance, the Summit served as a unique opportunity for participants to discuss bolstering teen engagement in Jewish life now and in the future. This year’s featured speaker was New York Times Commentator David Brooks.

“As enormous changes unfold around us and throughout the world, BBYO’s leadership, both teen and adult, realize that the future of the Jewish community is brighter when we all come together,” said Matthew Grossman, BBYO Chief Executive Officer. “With 2,400 teens joining together at IC 2016, this event truly offers a unique opportunity for them to see how the BBYO local experience translates into being part of something bigger than themselves – the global Jewish people.”

Cornell Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP; Justin Baldoni, American Actor and Director; Casey Neistat, Film Director and popular YouTube Creative; Meighan Stone, President of The Malala Fund; Dr. Einat Wilf, Israel’s Roving Ambassador; and award winning singer and songwriter, Jason Derulo were all a part of IC 2016. Other highlights of the event included:

  • Surprise welcome videos by Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau: During IC Opening Ceremonies, attendees were surprised by welcome videos from two prominent world leaders who encouraged teens to “celebrate their Jewish identity, learn from one another and make their voices heard.” Prime Minister Trudeau further congratulated the BBYO Canadian delegation on reaching a milestone 90-year anniversary in Canada. Opening Ceremonies also included remarks and guest appearances by Alan Gill and Jonathan Kolker, CEO and Past President, respectively, of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Jeffrey Kalinksy, VP and Designer Fashion Director at Nordstrom and BBYO Alum; Ira Lipman, CEO and Founder of Guardsmark; and Rabbi Carlos Tapiero, Deputy Director General of the Maccabi World Union.
  • BBYO Leads Plenary: A morning of guest speakers inspired IC participants to further their leadership skills, global awareness and impact on the world. Speakers included Cornell Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP; Gideon Lichtman, Retired U.S. Air Force Pilot and Founding Member of the Israeli Air Force; Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO, KIND Snacks; Geena Rocero, Transgender Advocate and Model; and Dr. Einat Wilf, Israel’s Roving Ambassador.
  • BBYO Leadership Labs: BBYO offered nearly 30 Leadership Labs across Baltimore for teens to learn about advocacy, philanthropy, marketing, social entrepreneurship, political engagement, civic leadership, Israel, education, environmental protection and chapter and program development. Participants gained real world insights from leaders and experts across the spectrum of organizations, companies and industries including the Maccabi World Union, SONY PlayStation, Signature Bank, AIPAC, John Hopkins University, Baltimore Community Toolbank, Repair the World and the National Aquarium.
  • A Record Breaking Shabbat: In addition to choosing from 23 pluralistic teen-led Shabbat services, teens took part in the unique experience of breaking a Guinness World Record by joining together for the largest Shabbat dinner ever at IC 2016.

Saturday night, 2,400 teens were addressed by their current leaders, Grand Aleph Godol, or President of AZA, Colin Silverman (Chicago, IL) and International N’siah, or President of BBG, Lauren Keats (Scarsdale, NY) alongside their peer leaders on the International Board about the strong state of the BBYO Movement. On Sunday, the IC body elected the next International Board to serve during the 2016-2017 programming year: Aaron Cooper of Winston-Salem, NC; Grey Silverman of Charlotte, NC; David Ziman of Scarsdale, NY; Liam Faigen of Houston, TX; Jed Golman of Dallas, TX; Ellie Bodker of Overland Park, KS; Jeannie Spiegel of Bethesda, MD; Leah Politi of Bexley, OH; Jessica Edelson of Blue Bell, PA; Nicci Mowszowski of Denver, CO.

The International Board helps chart the organization’s vision for the coming year, and provides leadership and support to teen leaders in local communities throughout the BBYO system. They work to strengthen regions and chapters by enhancing the Judaic, social, educational and community service programming throughout the network.

On Sunday night, the IC body closed out an incredible week of fun and learning with a celebration of all they accomplished and all they have to look forward to. This celebration was a concert featuring performances by electronic dance music group Cash Cash, alternative rock band The Mowgli’s and, headlining the night, award winning singer and songwriter Jason Derulo.

Select photos from BBYO IC 2016 are available here, and video is available here. Additional photos are provided courtesy of BBYO and should be credited to the photographer indicated on the individual photo.

About BBYO

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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