When I was in ninth grade, my sister made me join BBYO even though I didn't really know what it was or anyone who was doing it. My sister founded the BBYO chapter in my town, where there are not many Jewish teens who want to get involved. My first BBYO event ever was Fallcon, North Florida’s fall regional convention. I was very hesitant about going to a regional convention as my first BBYO event because the only person I knew going was my sister, while everyone else had their whole chapters going with who they already knew.
Coming from a small chapter can be hard at regional conventions since everyone else has a community that they have built around them. When I arrived at the Fall Convention I was very nervous but excited and mostly confused. I didn't know anything about BBYO, and suddenly I was chanting along to BBG songs, eating pretzels with frosting, and watching a Jewish beatboxer perform live. It was all very new to me, but what really stuck with me was meeting the International N'siah and hearing her talk about leadership in BBYO and the different opportunities BBYO provided Jewish teens. I left Fallcon still feeling confused yet wanting to know more. I had never been around a community like BBYO and I decided to take it more seriously so I too could have a BBYO community year-round and not just during regional conventions.
I worked hard alongside my sister to hold events in my town but was not very successful in my endeavors. I could not seem to reach out to the teens in my community and felt like BBYO was becoming less prominent in my life until registration for Spring Regional Convention opened. I was excited to see what this convection had in store as Falcon was so fun.
Alongside registration, the application to become a part of the regional board also opened up. My sister had been on the regional board as Schlicha and it helped her stay connected to BBYO even though our chapter was not holding many events. I decided to run for regional board on a whim. I didn't really think I would win, I just wanted to run. I had my sister explain what each position was, and I settled on mazkirah since it seemed like a fun job that I would not need much prior experience. As I wrote my application, I was unsure of what to write, having virtually no BBYO experience, I decided to instead write about all the things I wanted to do in BBYO instead of the things I had done. I wrote about how much it meant to me to find a Jewish community and how much I wanted to be a part of the vast opportunities offered.
When election day came, I found out I was running unopposed, and that is when the panic set in. I became panicked that I had no idea what I was doing, and when it came time to deliver my speech, I was filled with anxiety as I struggled to get the words out. I finally finished my speech and found out that I had won. Suddenly the former Mazkiarh was handing boxes and papers as I went to meet my fellow board members.
All the new responsibilities overwhelmed me as the old board passed along their responsibilities to me and my board. I am the youngest on my regional board but I feel so much support as we all navigate our roles in the North Florida community, and they helped me figure out how to best do my job. Even though I am still learning and growing into the Job of Mazkirah, I feel as if I am no longer scared but excited. With this, I encourage all teens from small towns and chapters to take on regional positions because they help you stay connected to BBYO and represent people from smaller communities.
Leehee Brauner is a BBG from Gainesville, Florida and she loves to swim.
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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