Our BBYO year is winding down and it feels...different. No in-person programs, no in-person Spring Convention with elections and last but definitely not least, no in-person life and goodbye to our seniors. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that BBYO has put the world in awe, showing that a global pandemic will not stop us from making meaningful connections with each other and continuing the traditions and unforgettable moments we hold so close to our hearts. We have been inspired by BBYO On Demand programs (I mean, who didn’t watch and love Mark Cuban?), had opportunities to catch up with international friends, and I myself just participated in Lake Ontario Region’s very first Spring Virtual Retreat complete with virtual elections. Rapping my gavel on a table in my living room was definitely different, but special. There have been endless opportunities our movement has presented us and doing things like singing with Happie and Eric week after week at Havdalah has grounded me and given me the motivation to stay positive, which is what we all need right now.
Regions around the world have been looking for ways to send their seniors off into the next chapter of their life and empower the next generation in the best way possible. After all, life is one of the most important and memorable traditions in our movement. Eastern Region put together a website filled with their senior’s life speeches - and it is AWESOME. As I was reading the speeches, one particularly caught my eye. His made me reflect, opened my eyes to how I will spend the rest of my BBYO journey, made me tear up and truly just wowed me. I knew I needed to share it with you. I won’t say anything more other than... introducing Sam Rappaport (see his story below):
BBYO is quite possibly the greatest organization I will ever be a part of. While I write this, I feel a sense of disappointment. I always pictured giving council life in front of a room full of half-interested teenagers and seeing Sydney Fishman burst into tears. But here we are. My five years have culminated into what is essentially a glorified essay. But honestly, maybe it’s fitting. BBYO has never given me what I expected and this is no different. When I began, I told myself I’ll never get involved. I did it because it was what my brother was doing and it felt like something I should do too.
Now here I am, in a position I never imagined myself in. However, I think my view on BBYO has been a bit flawed in a way. Ever since my MIT/AIT I’ve always wanted to achieve something big and leave an impact that will make me a remembered figure in Eastern history for years to come. Now that I am nearing the end, I realized there’s really no way to know if I have done something big or really impacted people. All I know, is that I have had an experience. My biggest regret in BBYO is looking too far ahead. After that first program when I said I didn’t want to be involved, I immediately wanted to be on board. After my first spring cultural, I wanted to be Council Godol. While these were eventually fulfilled, I feel as if I did not focus on the milestones to get there. I acted for the sake of reward, not for the sake of acting.
Honestly, not being able to go to convention has put my entire time in BBYO in perspective. To be honest, I was excited for states. I wanted the recognition of dozens of people telling me how great I am and that I did a good job whether I did or didn’t, because who doesn’t want that. I wanted to give life in person so I could feel recognized for the time I’ve put into BBYO, but all of that has fallen apart. And while it sucks, it has made me realize the importance of not looking for reward or recognition for actions. Act for the sake of acting. This is a principle central to many beliefs, as thinking too far into the future will only yield disappointment. This has happened to me numerous times in school, in sports, or in BBYO. I feel like I have done something noteworthy, and yet do not get recognized for it. I am sure you have all felt this at some point, and it’s not a good feeling.
Despite this, I challenge you all to really focus on experiencing the moment, and doing something for the sake of doing it. Don’t get so caught up in the work of BBYO, that you forget why you joined in the first place. Sometimes it can feel like a job, and when it gets too tiresome, take a step back and breathe. Talk to your Co about something other than BBYO. Hang out with people from your chapter outside of a program setting. Don’t get so looped in to the recruitment and board and work aspects of BBYO (the pyramid part), that you forget what brought you there.
With my final convention being canceled, I have been forced to come to the realization that my time in BBYO is coming to a close. Now that I have nothing beyond the horizon to set my sights on, I can look back and only wish that I had soaked everything in a little more. In the words of Ferris Buehler, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Not just in BBYO but in life, do the thing for the sake of doing the thing, because expecting a reward or recognition can only lead to disappointment. I would like to dedicate my past, present, and future to everyone I have encountered on my BBYO journey. The person I am is shaped by those around me, and Eastern and BBYO as a whole have created such a great environment to help me grow into the person I am now. I would dedicate everything to individual people, but it feels too impersonal on this platform. While I wish I could see everyone right now, and look out into the future of NCC one last time, I know that isn’t necessary. My days of being in charge are passed, and all I can do is be thankful for the experience. To my brother alephs, sister BBGs, staff, and everyone else, I thank you all.
Fraternally submitted with an undying love for Saul Nahum AZA #1709, Shaina BBG #1618, Eastern Region #6, NCC, pizza delivery men, MITCHELL, the Undertaker, CLTC 2 2017, MIT/AIT 2019, Jew-ba Divers, bath robes, and the international order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph, I forever remain Aleph Samson Jordan Rappaport. And with that, I accept life membership into North Carolina Council.
Hannah Alper is a BBG from Lake Ontario Region and has been an activist and author since the age of nine.
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