Thousands of Jewish Teens Across More than 20 Countries Worldwide Shine Light to Unite Communities in Celebration of the Largest “Global Shabbat” Experience to Date


MEDIA CONTACT Debbie Shemony, 202.857.6691; mailto: [email protected]

December 7 & 8, Worldwide—From across the United States, to Canada, throughout Europe and South America, hundreds of local BBYO chapters and communities across 20+ countries participated in BBYO’s Global Shabbat 2018. Global Shabbat is an annual highlight in which Jewish teen leaders host simultaneous Friday night, Saturday morning and Havdalah services and/or accompanying programs, uniting as a movement in a worldwide celebration of the joy of Shabbat.

This year's theme, ‘Let There Be Light,’ draws inspiration from the quote by the celebrated Jewish author, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel: "Even in darkness it is possible to create light." Teens explored the theme of ‘Let There Be Light through a diverse array of programming designed to bring their communities together around the lights of Shabbat, as well as by engaging with a variety of influential guests and gamechangers, including cross-cultural activists, interfaith leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, refugees and Holocaust survivors.

We are incredibly proud of the meaningful programming and lasting connections that our members facilitated in their communities through Global Shabbat this year,” remarked Emma Herman and Liam McLean, BBYO’s International Teen Vice Presidents of Jewish Heritage. “We are both inspired and energized by the vibrant glow that our vast and inclusive peer network has shone and will continue to shine around the world.”

Among the diverse array of enriching Global Shabbat experiences offered this year, program highlights include:

  • Interfaith and cross-cultural Shabbat programming, including a multi-day interfaith celebration of light program series in partnership with the Interfaith Youth Alliance and Faith Always Wins (Kansas City, KS); a community-wide dinner and panel discussion featuring clergy and youth group members representing seven different faiths (Scottsdale, AZ); a youth-led interfaith Havdalah commemorating the Tree of Life shooting (Pittsburgh, PA); a cross-cultural Havdalah experience with the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore and the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel (Baltimore, MD); an interfaith workshop with Kids4Peace (Seattle, WA); an interfaith Shabbat dinner and carnival at the University of Central Florida Hillel (Orlando, FL); an interfaith Shabbat service and program with a local Christian youth group (Cherry Hill, NJ); and more.
  • Connecting with a broad range of community gamechangers, including Racquel Chariah, Executive Coordinator, Beautiful Me; Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Arizona Regional Director for Anti-Defamation League; Professor Marc Gopin, Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University; Mariela Icicson, Educational Councilor, Healthy Development Dept., Government of Buenos Aires City; Elizabeth Moore, Former neo-Nazi, Speaker and Educator; Tom Myers, Executive Director, Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos; Pamela Schuller, Inclusion Advocate and Stand-up Comic; Clare Stern, Executive Director of Kansas City Interfaith Youth Alliance and Faith Always Wins; and more.
  • Welcoming and inducting Holocaust survivors into AZA and BBG in communities spanning many BBYO regions, including Great Midwest Region (GMR – Chicago, IL); Lake Ontario Region (LOR – Toronto, ON); Nassau Suffolk Region (NSR – Long Island, NY); Northern Region East: DC Council (NRE – Montgomery County, MD); Wisconsin Region (Milwaukee, WI); and more.

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.

The breadth and depth of this year’s celebrations reflected the power of our global teen movement to lead the way in shining light through even the darkest of times facing our world,” said Rae Williams, BBYO’s Senior Director of Movement Initiatives. “Global Shabbat, now an established and celebrated anchor of BBYO’s annual program calendar around the world, offers a powerful, shared platform from which teens and their guests can unite for a moment of rich Jewish tradition while embracing their role as a part of something bigger than themselves.”


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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