By Jennifer Kruzansky
Close to 200 Jewish teens from throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts came together for BBYO Connecticut Valley Region Winter Kallah convention the weekend of Jan. 24.
Throughout the convention, held at the Danbury Crowne Plaza, teens explored their Judaism and their relationship to Israel by participating in different programming tracks that focused on art, cooking, athletics, and politics. The teens cooked traditional Jewish foods with Jeffrey Yoskowitz, created a communal mural with an Israeli artist, learned to defend themselves using Krav Maga, made hummus with a local chef, and had fun Israeli dancing. They also had a chance to give back to the community by making dog toys out of gently used clothing that were donated to ROAR – Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue.
Those in attendance also heard from a variety of speakers, including National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inductee Adam Greenberg, JFACT director Michael Bloom, State Senator Julie Kushner, LGBTQ activist Hannah Simpson, and comedian and mental health advocate Pamela Schuller.
Throughout the weekend, the teens engaged in creative and unique prayer services. On Friday evening, they connected to their prayers through the lens of astrology and the stars; on Saturday morning, BBYO song leaders Happie Hoffman, Eric Hunker, and Axel Mansoor set the stage for a meaningful service which paid tribute to the 26 children and teachers killed in Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, and honored Stamford BBYO teen Evan Hyman, who passed away in 2016.
The weekend came to a blockbuster end on Saturday evening with a “Night in Tel Aviv”-themed Havdallah service, complete with falafel, schwarma, pita, and other traditional Middle Eastern food.
BBYO’s next regional event is coming up on March 7.
For more information on BBYO, contact Regional Director Jennifer Kruzansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Photo: BBYO teens learned about politics and how it relates to Judaism from JFACT Executive Director Michael Bloom and State Senator Julie Kushner (2nd row, center).