From Laughter to Leadership: 10 Highlights of My BBYO Journey

June 18, 2024
David Sternfeld

Charleston, South Carolina, United States

Class of 2024

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Since joining BBYO in the fall of my 8th-grade year, I’ve had a ton of amazing experiences that I’ve looked back on throughout the years. With that, I wanted to compile a list of my top 10 favorite things from my time in BBYO throughout the past 5 years. 

10. Fish Filet from McDonald’s - The Fish Filet from Mcdonald’s has been a staple of the inside jokes I have with my chapter siblings, and my co especially.  During our first convention, at our lunch stop at McDonald's, I got the Fish Filet and it was “an interesting choice” according to a few witnesses present at the time. The unconventionality of that choice has been a funny inside joke ever since and has been one of my favorite moments in BBYO to this day.

9. Shabbats at Perlman - During the summer of 2022, at Perlman, every Shabbat was special. There was always some special meaning that we found in every moment. From Shira led by the song leaders to Rabbi’s Tisch or from 4 hours of Chofesh to Havdalahs under the Perlman tree, every Shabbat had something I remember so vividly. 

8. Restarting my home chapter of Charleston BBYO - During my first year in BBYO, the local AZA and BBG chapters had recently folded and been formed into a BBYO chapter. Working with a few other people, I helped to restart the chapter. There were so many rough patches where we couldn’t get programs together, our programming was small, and our chapter was nearly on the verge of death again. But throughout it all, we continued to persevere. We eventually grew to numbers we could have only dreamed of, and now sit at over 40 members. Being able to watch my chapter grow and begin to thrive was incredible and I’m very proud of all the work that’s been done by everyone who has helped make the original dream an incredible reality.

7. My Brett Gelman interview during IC 2024 - Right before I was set to fly to IC, I received a text from a group chat titled “🤫🤫🤫.” This text entailed not only everything we had to do in the next 24-36 hours in order to be a part of this selected group but also that we had to be incredibly secretive about it and not tell anyone what we were doing or who we were interviewing. These people who got selected are the ones who would be conducting the teen interviews that get posted on YouTube every year. As soon as I got the text, I started working on some of the questions that I would be asking to learn more about his experiences throughout his life. Once the day came, I was incredibly nervous but also so excited. After all the hours of work put into the questions, with tons of revisions, I was ready. Throughout the interview, I was stoked to be doing it and was extremely proud of the work I had done, both in preparation and during the interview itself. 

6. Being a trainer at Eastern’s New Member Weekend - In Eastern Region every year, selected seniors and the council presidents work with the regional Morim to plan parts of New Member Weekend. These seniors and presidents are called trainers, and the trainers help educate and bond with the new members at the convention. I had the privilege to plan the convention with the other council Morim in 2022, and then to be a trainer this year at New Member Weekend 2023. During both years, I had the ability to meet many new members and witness their own connections being made, just as I had at my NMW in 2021. As a trainer I witnessed the future of the region present itself in front of me, and being able to help foster connections and experiences between Jewish teens throughout the entire region is something that was so extremely special for me.

5. My first regional spirit circle - When I went on CLTC 5 2021, I had only been to 2 in-person programs in BBYO. I didn’t know anyone outside my region, but that didn’t stop me from trying my best to make friends with as many people as I could and meet some incredible people who are my best friends to this day. During those 12 days, I learned so much about BBYO traditions, rituals, and language. I had never read the blue book or had a shabbat with BBYO, so at CLTC I experienced a lot of things for the first time. One in particular was a spirit circle. Most of the other Alephs with us had not done one either, so it was a new experience for us all. Nevertheless, the CLTC coordinator gave it his all and threw us into action almost immediately. There was one aleph in particular, who was a year older than me, who I could tell had done a few spirit circles with his chapter or region. He had so much passion and energy that it radiated to everyone else in the circle. Soon enough, I found myself screaming no man is an island and slamming the ground as hard as I could during Elomaya.

4. Good and Welfares - Good and Welfare has a special place in my memories because it was one of the first things I did with people in my region at my first-ever convention. Sitting around and talking with other Alephs was one of the best ways to bond with people at the convention and create friendships that have lasted to this day. Good and Welfares throughout the years have allowed me to get to know others better and to learn things that can apply to my life both in and out of BBYO.

3. Rebuilding Southeast Council - During my first year in BBYO, legislation was proposed to change the name of Dixie Council to the current name of Southeast Council. Southeast Council (SEC) has always been the smallest in Eastern Region, but nevertheless, we have always been strong with our spirit. In the past 4 years, SEC has grown tremendously. Working as both a Moreh and a council President with my Co, we worked on reviving and rebuilding the chapters throughout SEC. During the past 2 years, we have brought back Greenville BBYO, rebuilt both the AZA and BBG chapters in Savannah, as well as strengthened the membership and programming in Charleston and Columbia. SEC went from having very few members to now having a much larger presence at every single convention. The saying “SEC 🔛🔝” has been a staple of my last term as council president, and it definitely shows through our presence and spirit at conventions. I have no doubt that SEC will forever remain 🔛🔝

2.  Chapter Lives - Since Charleston BBYO was created, we haven’t had enough seniors in one class to be able to do chapter life. 2024 was the first time we did them, and it was exactly the right way I wanted to end my time in BBYO. Being able to give life with my best friend, both of us giving our own advice and sharing stories of our time throughout our different BBYO journeys. The feeling of impacting others’ BBYO experiences by leaving a legacy and sharing the legacy of those before you is unforgettable. I looked around at everyone’s faces and saw emotions of every kind. Happiness, sadness, excitement, gratefulness, and everything in between. Being able to share my story and help inspire the generations of Alephs and BBGs that come after me was a priceless gift. 

1. Reuniting with friends - Whether it’s someone you’ve known your entire life or someone you are meeting for the first time, meeting people in BBYO is super special to me. From both friends I’ve known and gotten closer with during my journey, to people I met once at a convention, reuniting with friends is one of my favorite things. Whether it’s a random occurrence when I happen to be in their city, or seeing them at conventions again, it’s always such an indescribable feeling. Whether it’s one of my friends from a different region flying out for my prom, someone traveling with their family and asking to hang out when they're in my city, or even just a random encounter in an airport when you’re going to completely different places. The feeling of reuniting with friends is warming. It’s knowing that you’re in the comfort of people you care about and who care about you. When you’re with your friends, you’re always making memories whether you know it or not. That’s why it’s so special to me. Because of all the memories I keep holding on to with my friends from all over the globe. The internationality of BBYO means that you’ll have a friend almost anywhere you go, and that’s what makes it so remarkable. 

Your time in BBYO goes by so incredibly fast, so don’t take a single moment for granted. Live in the moment and cherish the memories you make. 

Thank you BBYO for an amazing 5 years.

Fraternally submitted with undying love,

Aleph David Sternfeld

David Sternfeld is an Aleph living in Charleston, South Carolina who loves 3D printing, swimming, and playing baseball.

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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