By Jen Kruzansky
September and October were an exciting and busy time for BBYO Connecticut Valley Region. To prepare our community of advisors for the year, more than 40 volunteers from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts gathered in Windsor for BBYO’s annual Northeast Advisor Training. Advisors spent the weekend learning about inclusion and teen mental health issues and indicators. All advisors also received CPR and First Aid certifications. The Advisor Training Weekend was partially funded by a grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s CJEL Inclusion Initiative.
In the spirit of Sukkot, BBYO chapters across the state hosted a variety of Sukkot programs in their communities.
The Gottlieb AZA chapter in Fairfield spent the days before and after Sukkot helping community members build and take down sukkot for those in the community who were not able to do so themselves. Chapter members in Stamford, Greenwich, and West Hartford came together for potluck meals in the sukkah. In between noshing, the Stamford chapters debated the meaning of Sukkot while the Greenwich chapter used the holiday as a springboard to talk about environmental justice and the related Jewish values. In the West Hartford chapter, participants came together to shake the lulav and etrog in the sukkah, and discussed the meaning of the Sukkot prayers. The Ridgefield BBYO chapter gathered for Congregation Shir Shalom’s annual “Pizza in the Hut” event and had the opportunity to spend Shabbat with their community.
These Sukkot programs across the state culminated at the annual BBYO Connecticut Valley Regional Kick Off event on Oct. 14, during which time more than 300 Jewish teens from across Connecticut and Western Mass. celebrated the Jewish holidays. At the kick-off, members collected over 10,000 plastic bags for Tower One/Tower East in New Haven that will be re-used to make ‘plarn’ (plastic yarn). The plarn will be weaved into all-purpose sleeping mats and blankets for those experiencing homelessness.
BBYO Connecticut Valley Region is now looking forward to Dec. 15 and 16 when they will celebrate “Shabbat Across Connecticut.” As part of Shabbat Across Connecticut, chapters throughout the Connecticut Valley Region will host dinners and services with local community “Game Changers.” While each community will host their own program on Friday, BBYO Connecticut Valley Region will unite as each community celebrates Shabbat in their own unique way.
On Dec. 16, Jewish teens from across the state will come together once again for Havdallah and Chanukah candle-lighting at the 2nd annual “Stomp It Out!” event. Last year over 400 Jewish teens attended “Stomp It Out!” – an event that focuses on “stomping out” the stigma of mental health issues in a comfortable and meaningful way. Teens will have the opportunity to interact and collect information from over a dozen professional organizations that work in the mental health field. The event will take place at the Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton where activities will include laser tag, food, arcade games, ice-skating and a DJ on ice!
For more information about BBYO Connecticut Valley Region, contact Tyler Pepe Tpepe@bbyo.org or Jen Kruzansky, JKruzansky@bbyo.org.
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CAP: Teens from the Stamford chapter of BBYO Connecticut Valley Regional gathered for fun in the sukkah.