March 2020—feelings of hopelessness overtook my life, and COVID-19 took over the world. Society was marked by a lack of human connection, the inability to connect on personal levels, and a complete shift to an online world. One day, while casually scrolling through the BBYO website and all it has to offer, I stumbled across a new dimension, "BBYO On-Demand." Little did I know, one-click on the website would change my life forever. Knowing myself and my ability to make friends quickly, I figured, why not make some internet friends and chat with strangers? I registered and hopped onto my first call, "Come Chill and Talk Tik Tok, Host: Ellie Isenberg." Suddenly, I realized I had already sent Instagram direct messages to the BBG hosting the meeting. Our message history consisted of me begging her to let me into the "Jewish Hype House" Tik Tok page. Wow, this could be my shot to get into the house, I thought. Soon enough, I got accepted into the meeting and glanced at all of the new faces.
Sitting there with bright, green-eyes was Audrey Kalb. I quickly found a connection with this seemingly shy, sweet, sophisticated girl. Ellie was able to chime into our conversations, as well. Although there were other attendees present, the three of us chatted away in our little bubble as if we were old friends. Post call, we exchanged numbers, Snapchats, Instagrams, Tik Toks, and Venmos, thus marking our trio's start. We FaceTimed for hours that night and realized that even though Audrey was from Washington D.C., Ellie lived in Atlanta, and I resided in Los Angeles, we all led similar teenage lives. We all enjoyed driving around with friends, having dance parties in our rooms, and attending BBYO programs. Ellie, Audrey, and I FaceTimed every day after that for the next three months, marking the end of each week with virtual Shabbats.
Then, I had a crazy idea: "I should fly across the country and meet my friends." Ellie, sadly, could not join me on my journey to Washington, D.C. Nonetheless, in early July, I headed to D.C. and had the most amazing trip of my life. Audrey and I had an epic, slow-motion, run-up-to-each-other-falling-over hug. We visited monuments, memorials, Georgetown, and a ton of yummy restaurants! Fast forward two months, and I repeated the experience. Only this time, I headed to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet Ellie, and of course, we had an epic, slow-motion, run-up-to-each-other-falling-over hug. Ellie and I went to tons of drive-thrus, dyed our hair pink, went to the mall, and ate at more yummy restaurants! Seeing the girls in real life felt like a complete dream. Constantly pinching ourselves to see if this was real life. More importantly, we wondered, "how on Earth did our parents let this happen?!"
Regardless, I am happier than ever that my parents granted me the opportunity to travel across the country to meet my two internet best friends. Ellie and Audrey, whether they want to or not, will be bridesmaids in my wedding, we will (lightly) force our children to join BBYO, and most importantly, we will throw them on airplanes and fly across the country to meet internet strangers. Meeting Ellie and Audrey was the best experience of my life, and I have found my forever friends all thanks to BBYO On Demand!
Samantha Sternberg is a BBG from Pacific Western Region, and she can do a backflip!
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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