Empowering Jewish Youth: The BBYO Experience

November 16, 2023
Ryan Melder

Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States

Class of 2025

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In a world with many popular and diverse Jewish youth organizations, BBYO stands out as a close-knit community that brings Jewish teens together from all over the world while fostering leadership skills and strengthening their connection to their Jewish heritage. BBYO has been shaping the lives of Jewish youth for generations. As we embark on the centennial year, it is important to share how special BBYO is so we can keep growing the amazing movement to pass on for another 100 years.

BBYO is more than just a Jewish organization. It is a place where you can feel welcome to be whoever you wish to be. Jewish teens from all around the world join local chapters and regions where they connect with their Jewish community. Chapters and regions serve as a second family and a safe space for teens to share what they believe in and make lifelong friends in their communities while also, through summer programs and international experiences, making friends from all over the country and world. As a teen with a fresh start in high school, I always knew where I could show my identity and who I was without worrying if people accepted me or not. In addition to feeling welcomed in my region, when I first joined a chapter, I could tell that everyone was a part of one big family. Whether you were a freshman or senior, you were welcomed to each event with open arms and a smile from everyone who was already there.

In addition to the family atmosphere BBYO provides, it also provides a bridge to your Jewish heritage. Through different experiences, BBYO can shed new light on what it means to be Jewish and how it can affect your day-to-day life.

Furthermore, BBYO allows everyone in its organization to grow not only as a person but also as a leader. Through chapter, regional, and international leadership, BBYO lets you take on these leadership roles and gives you opportunities to plan events, developing crucial life skills—something you may not get every day in a school classroom.

BBYO is more than just a Jewish organization, it’s a movement that empowers Jewish teens to develop leadership skills and embrace their identity while being welcoming and inclusive to everybody. It is also a place where lifelong friendships are made, from around your city to across the globe. That is why I love BBYO so much. I can be who I want to be without fear of the world, and I have made countless new friendships from all around the country while fostering friendships I already had.

Ryan Melder is an Aleph from the Michigan Region, residing in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and loves to hang out with friends, watch sports, and cook for his family.

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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