STATEWIDE – Close to 250 teens took part in the BBYO Connecticut Valley Region’s (CVR) first virtual Spring Convention, held the week of May 12 – which meant teens taking part in annual rituals and traditions and engaging with their peers in new and creative ways.
“BBYO has been the one consistent thing in my life during this pandemic, and our connections as a community are stronger than ever,” Sydney Molaver, a member of Chelsea J. Cohen BBYO in Norwalk said. “In theater they say ‘The show must go on!’ and that is exactly what we did, we went virtual and ran a super awesome virtual spring convention where we strengthened our community safely from our homes!”
Said Zac Kitay, AZA (boys) president of the region, “Virtual convention kept me smiling and laughing during the quarantine, it gave me an outlet to be productive and work towards a common goal.”
The convention highlights included: challah making classes, an iron chef cooking competition, a game of virtual H.O.R.S.E., and guided art classes. The region also held Friday night services and created its own version of the Saturday Night Seder, with a Shabbat Morning Service video produced by BBYO teens.
CVR alumni Brendan George joined the teens to talk about his time on MTV’s “Drag My Dad,” a show in which family members dress in drag and share and discuss personal issues. Brendan shared his story about being Jewish and Queer and also reflected on his time in BBYO.
Sarah Milner, outgoing BBG (girls) regional president said, “Virtual Convention gave me such hope in times of uncertainty. It gave me a sense of normalcy and community. It really did make quarantine so much easier. I had something to look forward to everyday and was able to see people that I missed and love.”
BBYO teens also launched two initiatives during Spring Convention:
(1) A project to connect with teens whose b’nai mitzvah were interrupted due to COVID-19. BBYO teens reached out to these teens, saying “mazel too!” with packages of cookies. For each package of cookies that was sent to a bar/bat mitzvah teen, a package of cookies was also sent to Health Care workers in honor of the mitzvoth they perform everyday. The project will continue throughout the summer.
(2) BBYO teens introduced Operation Bubbe Sitters – a project that connects Jewish teens with residents of assisted living homes as a way of reaching out and offering support. The teens sent letters to different Jewish homes in order to begin pen pal relationships with the residents.
The Convention wrapped up with elections for the next group of BBYO leaders. They are:
The 61st Regional AZA Board
Godol/President: Nathan Zakim, Trumbull
S’gan/VP Programming: Nick Matalote, Woodbridge
Moreh/VP Membership: Jacob Levy, Woodbridge
Mazkir/Communications: Miles Leslie, Stamford
Shaliach/Jewish Programming: Ethan Durnell, Brookfield
Gizbor/Treasure: Leo Koganov, Stamford
Ozer/Community Service : Evan Gorelick, Woodbridge.
The 61st Regional BBG Board
N’siah/President: Ellie Carter, Ridgefield
S’ganit/VP Programming: Carly Fein, Stamford
Aym HaChaverot/VP Membership: Jenna Zamkov, Woodbridge
Mazkirah/Communications: Samantha Hass, Woodbridge
Sh’licha/Jewish Programming: Olivia Feldmand, Weston
Gizborit/Treasurer: Ruthie Price, Stamford
Ozeret/Community Service: Emma Goldberg, Stamford
For more information about BBYO, visit BBYO.org or email Josh Cohen, senior re-gional director at JCohen@bbyo.org,or Jennifer Kruzansky, regional director at JKruzansky@bbyo.org.
Main Photo: BBYO 2020 board