Thousands of Jewish teens from around the globe were delighted by a welcome address from President Barack Obama as they began their five-day 2013 BBYO International Convention February 14-18. Seven teens from Columbus’ own BBYO and 31 teens from the BBYO’s KIO region were among the 1,600 Jewish youth who enjoyed being greeted by President Obama in a video message.
See President Obama’s message here:
The gathering of nearly 2,000 Jewish youth was the largest in recent history. Other highlights of the opening ceremonies were the engaging speeches by Michael Froman, Assistant to President Obama and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, and Josh Mandel, Ohio State Treasurer.
The keynote address by Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called the teen delegates to action as they embarked on Friday, February 15, for the BBYO Stand UP Day of Service and Advocacy. The delegates split into groups, spending the day traveling around D.C. and working on various community service projects, from AIPAC to gardening to moving musical instruments into a new elementary school.
The day of service ended, of course, with a Shabbat celebration in which all 1,600 teens came together to recite the blessings and share a meal. The teens had 12 different Kabbalat Shabbat Services to choose from as they welcomed Shabbat—one for each denomination and spiritual style.
A variety of Havdallah services ended Shabbat with beautiful music. Then that evening, all the teens came together again to hear their International Board give the State of the Order, during which one of the Columbus boys’ chapters, POPS DSK, was awarded the Henry Monsky Chapter Excellence award for their excellence in programming. The KIO region of BBYO also won the Spirit Gavel, which honors the region with the most Ruach (spirit). KIO, of which the Columbus BBYO is a part, is the only region to have won the award three times.
Over 70 international students from 18 different countries were inducted into AZA and BBG, and following that, both AZA and BBG elected their international executive boards. The excitement continued as the convention concluded on Sunday afternoon with a variety of excursions. The teens could choose to go on a tour of D.C. sites, to visit the Holocaust Museum, or to see the AZAA/BBGG athletics programs at the University of Maryland.
BBYO’s International Convention has been a BBYO tradition for almost 90 years, honoring the hard work and emerging leadership skills of the next generation of Jewish leaders. The youth-led movement connects Jewish teens throughout the world to the Jewish community.
Mark Moscardino, Columbus BBYO City Director, extended a special thanks to Grant Hansell, Halle Herman, and Sam Dolen, for their leadership during the convention. “Thank you, Grant, for all your hard work as Convention Administrator, and thank you Halle Herman and Sam Dolen for leading the region all weekend,” said Moscardino.