Just a few days ago, Washington DC was host to a huge delegation of top leaders from around the world. No, these were not politicians here to hear President Obama’s State of the Union Address, but 2,000 teens from across 18 countries coming to participate in the largest International convention that BBYO has ever had.
Of the teens present, 19 of them were from the Boston Area. These high school students celebrated president’s day weekend by listening to the state of the order from their two international presidents and electing their new international board for the coming year.
Considering the enormous parallels to our American government system, it is no surprise that President Obama sent a video welcome message to the teens that were about to convene in his back yard. The President addressed the audience, “this gathering gives you a chance to affirm your faith and recommit yourselves to the enduring values this organization represents.”
He then encouraged the teens to return home, spread their enthusiasm and show the important role that young people play in making a difference in society. This message had a large impact on many of the teens. Judah Burstein, the Regional Community Service and Judaic Vice President felt “it was really cool that we were being recognized by the most powerful person in the world. BBYO has great values and it is great that they are being recognized.”
In addition to the President, the Convention body heard from Michael Froman, Assistant to the President of the United States and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs. Froman, an alumnus of BBYO and former Grand Aleph Godol (International Teen President of AZA), referenced BBYO as having contributed most to who he is today. Friday morning at the BBYO Stand UP Day of Service and Advocacy plenary, BBYO welcomed alumni engaged in Jewish communal service, educational and entrepreneurial work around the world.
The teen leadership body presented the Annual BBYO Stand UP Lifetime Achievement Award to DNC Chairwoman and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who spoke about the importance of standing up for critical causes of the day. The Convention body also heard remarks from Josh Mandel (R-OH), a Marine Corps veteran and State Treasurer of Ohio. Wrapping up the plenary,United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice delivered a Call to Action before the delegates went into the DC community for hands on service and advocacy training.
“BBYO’s International Convention brought together an amazing community of partners, guests, alumni, speakers and performers,” said Logan Miller, International Teen President (Grand Aleph Godol) of BBYO. “The magnitude and stature of our guests is a testament to the work of Alephs and B’nai B’rith Girls across the world this year, doing everything bigger and better on behalf of the Jewish future.”
Part of this amazing community was Michael Chasen, a former member of a neighboring region and the CEO of his own billion-dollar company. Chasen’s session was particularly interestin to many participants, including Judah, because Chasen came to speak about BBYO taught him everything he needed to know for success.
Judah said that hearing how BBYO led to future successes taught him to “value what I learned in BBYO and at CLTC (Chapter Leadership Training Conference) even more now.” For nearly 90 years, this convention has served to unite the rising leaders of AZA and BBG, to set the course for the coming year, determine strategies for strengthening BBYO as a youth-led movement and connect teens to the worldwide Jewish community. For more information on BBYO, please visit www.bbyo.org.