When I was really young, Friday night Shabbat dinner was a constant that brought my immediate and extended family closer together. After a long and busy week, we would meet at my Bubby’s house, light the candles, and say our prayers for the wine (well for me, grape juice) and challah. We would have a delicious dinner while catching up and unwinding as the weekend approaches. Though many of us are grown, or busy and may live out of town, we try to do this as much as possible. We truly view this time as a symbol of family, togetherness, and our traditions that go back generations prior.
There is no doubt that within the last year, my chapter, Ahava BBG #2447, has become like a second family to me. Growing up, I always wanted a sister. Now I have over 20 in my chapter alone, many of which have contrasting personalities and interests. More specifically, I wanted a younger sister as I already had an older sibling. This year our chapter had a growth in Grade 8 and 9 membership. This was very exciting since they didn't know exactly what they got themselves into when joining BBYO (I’m sure many have felt like that when they were new members). I was able to help guide them through everything they are learning about BBYO, as well as themselves in this organization.
Something that’s just as exciting as a boom in recruitment: as our chapter Shlicha, I got to plan the chapters very own Global Shabbat! I knew this event had a high level of significance throughout the order, and understanding just how significant Shabbat is in Judaism and within my own family, I was super excited to bring this program to my chapter, especially for the new members who are experiencing everything it has to offer for the first time.
Though planning Global Shabbat is mainly the Shlicha’s job, I knew I needed help in order for this event to reach its fullest potential. The theme used across the order, “With All Our Might” to me, demonstrates the strength in numbers and how much we can get done when we all work together and implement our own ideas to make something memorable and relevant to our daily lives.
“With All Our Might”, we set up a mini fundraiser at our Global Shabbat for our stand up cause, Holland Bloorview, a children's hospital in Toronto for kids with disabilities. Everybody who came to the event was asked to bring a toonie (2 dollars) for this cause. We ended up raising even more than what two dollars from all of us could have totaled. We started the night spontaneously with a team-building icebreaker where you stand in a circle and grab the hands of people who aren't next to you, with the goal of working together to untangle. We then went upstairs to do our Shabbat prayers and had a delicious potluck dinner. After our meal, we participated in a program with a focus on self-care and de-stressing for the weekend ahead, as in order to work “With All Our Might,” we must take care of ourselves first. This was planned by the chapter S'ganit, Alyssa, and it included coloring Shabbat themed mandalas, as well as trying an exercise for instant energy called Qigong shaking (which is actually fun and kinda hilarious you should try it).
We then partook in an insightful separates led by our chapter N’siah, Hayley, where we talked about the intersection between our identities and leadership and what we want to get out of our BBYO experience. Related to this, our special guest of the night, Sarah Magni, founder of Thatz Showbiz, a theatre training non-profit that helps people from all walks of life develop important skills through performing, told us her own story of breaking through as an entrepreneur and leader. She supplemented this a fun drama activity that helped us envision ourselves as the leaders and collaborators we want to be. Finally, with a new member, Leah, we put together a fun program at dessert where we decorated cupcakes for each other with a wide assortment of toppings!
I can say for certain that Global Shabbat is not like anything I've ever experienced with my own family. The fact that we as Jewish teens have a platform to really delve deep into our culture and traditions and make it something relevant to our group is incredible beyond words. While planning the evening and even after the fact, I learned that the theme “With All Our Might” is not just a string of words BBYO HQ put together. It is to live to our fullest potential within all aspects of our life, within BBYO and out. As well as to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. By doing that, you can take multiple visions, and create something wonderful together.
Sierra Finkelshtain is a BBG from Lake Ontario Region who loves ice cream and going to concerts.
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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