When I joined BBYO, I could stand tall –puffing my chest out and straining the crown of my head– and barely exceed 5 feet. If you “Googled” the definition of timid, my name might’ve been your first result. And if prodded about my skills, values, and goals, I likely would’ve broken a sweat before articulating a half-decent response.
Although in some ways I remain the same kid, I’ve (luckily) grown in many more throughout my BBYO career. I’ve developed a host of time-management, goal-setting, and leadership skills; I’m proud of how I’ve come out of my shell; I can even consider telling people I’m 6 feet tall (...well, not quite). Below you’ll find thank yous to those who have guided my experience and a tidbit of advice for those who come after me:
Never underestimate the influence you hold. My older brothers, sisters, and siblings are why I came to my first program and kept coming back, why I ran for Chapter and Council Boards, and why I finished my BBYO career serving on the International Board. I am grateful for the role-modeling they did for me, actively or passively. To the upperclassmen, remember to look out for the younger guys, as they’re our legacy. And to the underclassmen, I promise that you’ll find your people.
Staff and Advisors:
BBYO is a teen-led organization, but our staff ultimately make what we do possible. I wish a massive thank you to all the advisors and professionals in BBYO! In my experience, the best staff have challenged me to do better (especially when they know I’m holding back) and supported me when I needed to take a step back. Without their guidance, I wouldn’t have acquired the skills and experiences that have defined my BBYO career. To professionals and advisors, thank you for bolstering our future. Teens, don’t take your support systems for granted!
Lastly, thank you to everyone who has served on board –be it chapter, council, or international– with me. As a younger member, I admired the passion and generosity I saw from my leaders. As an older member, it was the ability to give back that kept me invested in our community. Working as a board can be challenging too; towing the line between friends and colleagues is a balancing act that not all high schoolers have the opportunity to practice. To Gideon AZA, Baltimore Council’s 72nd Council Board, and the 97/77th International Boards, thank you for teaching me how to be a loving friend and productive colleague. To all members, find ways to serve your community and build a legacy.
To AZA and BBG,
Thank you for an exceptionally meaningful and rewarding 5 years. As you continue your journey in BBYO, I urge you to say “yes” to every opportunity, serve your communities generously, and challenge yourself whenever possible. You may be surprised by the ways in which BBYO shapes the person you grow into. I know I was.
Fraternally submitted with an undying love and dedication to Gideon AZA #2519, Northern Region East: Baltimore council #59, the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph, and every Jewish teen who reaches for community, I forever remain,
Danny Zachary Freedman
33rd Grand Aleph Shaliach and lifelong Aleph
Danny Freedman is the 33rd Grand Aleph Shaliach 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.
What it’s like growing up Jewish in an area with hardly any Jews, and the help BBYO gave me.
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