Just one week ago, in King of Prussia, PA over 500 Jewish teens came together to achieve something great. This meeting of 500 teens from the Northeast is one of BBYO’s largest gatherings, called East Coast Kallah. The participating regions cover areas ranging from Maine to Virginia, and Boston area’s own New England Region sent a delegation of 6 students. More than just a fun and exciting gathering of friends, the BBYO students that attend are exposed to a mega-shabbat, service and advocacy.
 
Speakers came to teach them about homelessness, special needs, and body image. Other speakers taught the students how to use social media, advertising and other tools to their advantage when advocating for a cause. Perhaps one of the most moving sessions, was one from a Holocaust Survivor about how to keep that story alive because the next generation won’t be able to hear first hand accounts.

Jaclyn Lerner, a Framingham teen says: “The most memorable thing that happened was with the holocaust speaker. After he told us his story, I went up to thank him. He personally told me to share his story so that it would not be forgotten to generations that come. That spoke to me because I felt honored that he trusted me with something so personal and sad that his story could die with him.”

The most remarkable part of the weekend is that the teens were able to raise over $8,300 to donate towards BBYO’s international fund, which helps bring teens from all over the world to BBYO programs, and to help foster a connection with Jews everywhere. How did they do this? The teen fundraising committee made a weekend long competition with a change wars contest, found matching donations and tried to find other ways to raise money throughout the weekend. It seems fitting that the students honor the memories of Holocaust survivors by ensuring the Judaism will be perpetuated around the world for years to come.
 
Judah Burstein, the Community Service VP of NER remembers most “pouring my $100+ donation into the change wars bucket and being complimented by a staff member whom I have never met. I now feel confident promoting a cause I am passionate about. I came back from ECK with an arsenal of creative techniques that will help me become the advocate I want to be.”
 
The teens also learned about another great part of service that weekend, which is advocacy. Speakers came to teach them about homelessness, special needs, and body image. Perhaps one of the most moving sessions, was one from a Holocaust Survivor about how to keep that story alive because the next generation won’t be able to hear first hand accounts. Other speakers taught the students how to use social media, advertising and other tools to their advantage when advocating for a cause.
 
The theme of this convention was “This Dream I’m After” and after the convention, the teens walked away empowered with the tools necessary to achieve the dreams that they are after and to truly make a difference for themselves and others. And in some cases, the teens might even be able to surpass their dreams and achieve something even greater, like the small but mighty New England Region who came in 3rd place in the fundraising competition. Stephanie Margolis, an Acton teen, felt that the theme “really represents that other people support you in following you dreams and that you are not alone. Also, I think it shows everyone has a dream that can come true if you try.”
 
 
BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. To learn more, check out: www.bbyo.org

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