Ben Talesnik International Life

June 20, 2022
Ben Talesnik

Northern Region East: Baltimore

Class of 2022

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Wow. That’s all I can really say as I wrap up my year on International Board and end my time in BBYO. I’m truly grateful for all the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve met. After serving many leadership positions, attending ILTC, participating in the ILN, and connecting with people from across the world through platforms when not everything was cooperating the way we wanted it to, I can confidently say that I feel fulfilled. I’m grateful for the experiences that this organization has given me and I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Here are some highlights from my past year as your 4th Grand Aleph Gizbor:

  • Supported the best network of over 40 regional and community Gizborim!
  • Our Gamechanger Innovation Granting Committee helped to elevate over 200 programs with over 2,500 members and prospects across the world!
  • Over 900 teen ambassadors helped to raise over $548,000 on #GivingBBYOday for over 60 communities!
  • During International Convention, we had over 4,000 sales at our annual Shuk, raising a record-breaking amount for communities worldwide!
  • Ruthie and I led the first allocation meetings of our International Service Fund, donating $10,000 to organizational priorities including Yad Vashem, OneLove Foundation, preserving Jewish artifacts in Afghanistan, The Ocean Cleanup, Ieladeinu, the Jordan L. Kronen Charitable Fund, and the St. Francis Neighborhood Center!
  • Worked with communities worldwide for fundraising initiatives including BBYO’s response to Ukraine!

To my counterparts, it’s been truly a pleasure getting to know every one of you as my closest friends and colleagues. I’ll never forget the moment I got to meet so many of you at International Convention, finally realizing that all these people that I got to work with actually exist and are doing amazing things for their communities. While I wish that we had more chances to connect throughout the year, I am forever grateful for the dedication y’all had on #GivingBBYOday, making it the biggest fundraising year yet! I’m not going anywhere, so feel free to come to me for advice, to tell me about your day, whatever!

To Ruthie, what a year it’s been. I honestly haven’t said this enough, but I couldn’t have asked for a better co. Thanks for all the laughs and dedication you had with everything you worked on with me this year. I can’t believe how much we set out to accomplish this year and how much we actually were able to accomplish. We literally allocated money from the International Service Fund for the first time in years! I’m so excited to see what you accomplish in the future at Michigan!

To staff, thanks for always pushing me to be the best version of myself and for always sticking with me through all my visions. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish nearly as much as I did without all of your support.

To my chapter, Ashkelon BBYO, thank you for being my second home. Seriously. For those who don’t know, I didn’t understand that you could be a prospect and attend programs before joining. So, after joining Gideon AZA and attending a joint ice cream social with Ashkelon, I switched. Anyway, I will never forget all the late nights, Shabbat hops and trips to IHOP. Thank you for giving me a safe space and space I felt comfortable.

To my friends, you’ve really been there with me through it all. There are no other people I’d rather travel by any mode of transportation to see. Thanks for all the late-night Zoom calls, drives to Rockville and back, Havdalah circles around the Perlman tree, and so so many more memories. I can’t believe I can say I have friends spanning from Washington D.C. to California and even South Africa. I’m so lucky I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people and I can’t wait to stay connected in the future!

When I joined BBYO in the fall of my Freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. My sister took me to programs and by the end of the year, I ran for my first board position: chapter Gizbor. After ordering chapter swag, coordinating a team for a 5K, and much more, I ran for chapter Gizbor again. And guess what I ran for after that? Baltimore Council’s 72nd Gizbor. And after that? 4th Grand Aleph Gizbor.

  1. Find what you’re truly passionate about. Growing up, I was always fascinated by money. I soon realized that money doesn’t grow on trees. Going into my freshman year, I started to play trivia apps such as HQ Trivia (I was really jealous when Scott Rogowsky was at IC) and resell shoes. I also realized that I love putting smiles on people’s faces. The position of Gizbor gave me everything I wanted in a leadership experience. It showed me how to manage money, systems, people, and how to actually write an email. The positions you hold should be fun. You should be able to have an amazing experience while also having a learning experience. Find what you care about and do what you can to follow that passion.
  1. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you. Before running for International Board, I convinced myself I wasn’t qualified enough to run for the position. I didn’t have much experience within the ILN and wasn’t “internationally known”. Huge shoutout to Emma Rosman, the 3rd International Gizborit, for proving to me that this wasn’t true and teaching me this important lesson. Nothing is too big, but it’s up to you to push beyond expectations and set a new standard for yourself. You will never know the results if you don’t try. Run and apply for everything you can, even if you don’t win, the experience will carry with you.

  2. Have fun! I said this before and I’ll say it again. While the experiences afforded to you by this organization give you the ability to reach the stars, your mental health comes first. Leadership isn’t for everyone and it should never feel forced. Take breaks and make sure you’re giving time for yourself. It’s important. Make the most of your experience in BBYO, meet some incredible people, and change the world, but please remember you come first!

If you told my freshman self I would be writing this article I wouldn’t have believed you. That shy freshman would have laughed in your face. I’m proud to say that I’ve grown so much as a person in and outside of this organization, especially through this last year spent on International Board. With the position of Gizbor being so new on International Board, I know there is a lot left undone and I can’t wait to watch what Sami and Avi do this upcoming year.

AZA & BBG, continue being you. Continue to change the world for the better. Whether you believe it or not, you have the platform to rally Jewish teens to accomplish anything you set your mind to, and I’m excited to watch as a proud alum.

Fraternally submitted with an undying love for the 97th Grand and International Boards, the frogs of Northern Region East, the Orioles of Baltimore BBYO #59, the Aliens of Ashkelon BBYO #5407, and the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph, I forever remain Benjamin Spencer Talesnik, your 4th Grand Aleph Gizbor and proud lifetime member of the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.

Ben Talesnik is the 4th Grand Aleph Gizbor from Northern Region East: Baltimore

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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