Interviewing With the CSR Presidents

December 5, 2019
Ashley Faber

Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Class of 2020

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Tell me about yourself.

Ella: I’m Ella Belvin, I’m from Memphis, Tennessee in River City BBG #2054, and I am the 72nd CSR Regional N’siah. I am a senior at a private all-girls Christian school (very interesting being a Jewish person in the South!), I have 3 dogs and a cat, I play tennis, and I sing.

Ben: I’m Ben from Memphis. I’m a proud member of Israel H. Peres AZA #71, and I am the 92nd Regional Aleph Godol of CSR. I’m a senior at Memphis University School. I love to hang out with friends, play basketball, and listen to music. I also love dogs.

What inspired you to run for Godol/N’siah? Why did you want to hold this position?

Ella: I wanted to follow in the footsteps of older members. They always encouraged me to take active leadership positions and work with them, so I joined steering committees and it inspired me to run. Being on regionl board the year before, I wanted to continue to help the region as much as I could, so what better way than to take on something bigger? I could see from the inside what objectives I wanted to hone in on, such as more communication among the board and among the chapters. I wanted to be on the front lines of change.

Ben: While developing in a smaller region, I always thought of myself as a leader. Looking up to the regional board was something I always did, and I promised myself I would be there one day so that kids could look up to me. By holding myself to this, I focused on how to better my leadership skills, thus being able to influence the region in great ways. This has had an enormous impact on my life.

What does a day in the life of Godol/N’siah look like?

Ella: I spend a lot of time communicating with my chapter counterparts so I can be a good resource for them if they need it. I create the call schedules for our regional board calls, and I have weekly meetings with regional staff as well. What a day in the life looks like frequently depends on the time of year, so something I’m currently working on is my State of the Region speech for our winter convention in January. Lastly, I try to attend as many chapter and city programs as possible. 

Ben: A lot of my job is overseeing boards. Whether it is regional board or chapter presidents, I love having calls to talk about strategies. What is working and what is not? Why? In addition to this, Ella and I have weekly presidents meetings with staff, and I also attend chapter programs as frequently as possible. 

Tell me about some of your unwritten responsibilities as a leader in this region.

Ella: I strive to be a good role model for people. I want them to see someone in leadership who is friendly & personable, and not as intimidating because they hold a major position. I make sure to be there for anyone who needs me, and I try to ensure that leadership doesn’t feel like such an overarching hierarchy, because while we are in important positions doing a lot of work for the region, we are just like everyone else. I try to make myself reachable for people who aren’t in leadership positions, and to create an inclusive environment for everyone.

Ben: Setting the example by being my best self. BBYO is an organization that you are either 100% invested in or you just aren’t. There is not much middle ground. As someone who is 200% invested, I work hard to show people through programming and leadership abilities why BBYO is so magical. In addition to this, I try to set an example for my board and others of being responsible while also having fun. While there is a lot of work to be done in BBYO, it is ultimately an outlet for Jewish teens to unite as one, bond, and have a blast. So, I try to keep everyone focused on this aspect in order to maintain positive attitudes.

How do you balance your time between BBYO, school, family and friendships, and other activities you participate in, having such a major role in BBYO?

Ella: It’s a lot of balancing, trying to figure out when you have to prioritize what. I really make an effort to carve out time with family and friends because it helps me maintain my sanity. It’s important to have the ability to set aside time with people you love. Scheduling these things helps me balance my time. I also try to work smarter not harder, multitasking as much as I can.

Ben: Honestly right now I work more each week on BBYO work than homework. As an IC 2020 Programming Admin, as well as RAG, I have tons of work each week between calls and other work. However, I have developed a schedule to work out, get homework done, and do my BBYO work all efficiently. I also spend my weekends with my friends from home. A lot of people get stressed about BBYO work, but I love it so it honestly never seems monotonous. 

Why is BBYO important to you?

Ella: I wanted to make sure I maintained a strong connection to Judaism after my Bat Mitzvah. I feel like it’s especially important here in the South because there aren’t a lot of us here, so I needed that connection to the people in the Jewish community that are my age. BBYO is also important to me because the leadership opportunities I’ve had have helped grow me as a person. BBYO is an educational opportunity as well as one for spiritual growth, which I really care about. It has helped me meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I am grateful for that.

Ben: BBYO helped me transition out of my “cool 9th grader” phase into a passionate young adult who is mature and knowledgeable. In addition to this, I have met hundreds of incredible people through BBYO who I would take bullets for. BBYO has given me so many incredible opportunities, and I am so proud to be able to help shape it like it has shaped me.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to hold this position? For someone considering running for regional board in general?

Ella: If you want to do this, make sure you have not only the time but also the drive. It’s easy to get burned out (especially after 2 years on regional board). You shouldn’t do it so you can put it on a resume, but because you actually want to effect change in the region, and work not for yourself but for everyone else. There will be nights where you expend a lot of time and energy on BBYO and it can be overwhelming, but it is SO rewarding to see all of the positive outcomes when you put in your full effort. You may not even see those full effects right away, but if you maintain your motivation anyway, it can be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. 

Ben: Make sure you are in it for the region, not yourself or the title. BBYO is only great if you put in as much as you want out. If you are in it to flex a title, please don’t run. You are president to ensure the region is better every day because of you. You are a leader. You are the face of our region. People should look up to you and you should want to influence their Jewish high school experiences because it could impact them for the rest of their lives.

Ashley Faber is a BBG from CSR and loves to play the violin.

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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