HELLOOOOOOOO AZA & BBG,
It’s TJ Katz here, your 99th Grand Aleph Godol. To start, a quick thank you for navigating your way over to my FIRST Keeping Pace article of the year. Keeping Pace will be a series of monthly posts by my Co, Courtney, and myself, and it is a place for you to check in and find out what we’ve been up to.
So, without further ado, here we are:
If you look above, you’ll see a photo encompassing a prominent, colored rendition of the 99th Grand Board overtaking a desaturated background of me leaving my high school graduation. In many ways, this mashup is perfectly representative of my life. As I begin anew on this journey of a lifetime, many features of my life over the last four years are beginning to fade to allow for those new, colorful aspects to take their place.
Over my last four years of highschool, I always felt fortunate to be someone who did not find this phase of my life to be one that I was counting down the days till it was over. Rather, I frequently loathed the thought that high school would be over one day. And, well, that day has passed. So, now as I begin to embark on this next year, I am reminded to make the most of it. For me, (it’s absurd to already think about) but in about 335 days give or take, my term as your 99th Grand Aleph Godol will come to an end, and the cycle will restart for my life, beginning anew once again.
But in the end, change is often good. In this instance, my change from a highschooler to now is indicative of me shifting from spending my nights on Calculus homework to now spending my nights tangibly impacting the lives of the world’s Jewish teen population. Change isn’t always meant to be as massive as that, but moreso, change is an opportunity for us all to grow.
When I was joined by the board, composed of five countries (Argentina, Canada, Germany, Spain, US), at our June retreat, I was truly immersed in some of that “change” I’ll be undergoing over the next year. I was at the center of the power, and better yet, the magic of BBYO. We went over so many aspects of the coming year, ranging from the International Leadership Network (ILN) launch to dreaming about IC 100. But what’s more, I was unbelievably impressed by the way in which our diverse backgrounds contributed to the overall success of our discussion. I heard points brought up from members of the board that weren’t even something I’d have considered in a million years. But isn’t that what BBYO is all about at its heart?
BBYO is the leading pluralistic teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences.
Let’s zoom in a bit on that mission statement. “BBYO is the leading pluralistic teen movement.” Even further: “pluralistic.” For me personally and many others I’d assume, when I think of BBYO’s pluralism, I think of catering to every Jewish teen no matter their placement on the religious spectrum. But what my time with the International Board showed me was that more than just that, our pluralism is represented by the fact that we exist in 60+ countries. Our pluralism is a reminder that BBYO does not and should not look the same in any two places around the globe. Our pluralism is ultimately what makes BBYO, BBYO.
I encourage you all to embrace it. The average teen in BBYO gets four years. For many, it’s even less. So, make use of it. You have been given a platform that the overwhelming majority of teens from around the world have not been given: the chance to share their voice with all sorts of people from around the world.
Stay tuned to keep up to date with me and check back monthly for my Keeping Pace. If you ever want, please reach out to me at +1(973)-986-3500, I’m always down to talk!
Aleph TJ Katz
99th Grand Aleph Godol
TJ is an Aleph from Greater Jersey Hudson River Region and is serving as the 99th Grand Aleph Godol.
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.
CLTC, one of the many summer programs that BBYO offers, creates a special and spiritual environment like no other.
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