Happy Summer/Winter BBYO,
Wow a lot can happen in one month! Truly, it feels like ages ago since I sat down to write my first Keeping PACE. Since then, I’ve coordinated a summer program, spent some time in Washington D.C. mapping out the year, and attended International Kallah’s Agents of Change/Israel 360 seminars! So…let’s dive in.
To start shoutout to my 3LTCers! I had the privilege of being the AZA coordinator for session 3 of CLTC this summer, BBYO’s premiere summer leadership program focused on enhancing the chapter experience (Chapter Leadership Training Conference). For some, CLTC was the first BBYO event they ever attended, and for others they’d already been in the organization for years. For everyone, this was a 12 day opportunity to meet people from around the globe, discover their Judaism, and learn skills to improve their chapters back home. In short, these were 12 days filled with “firsts.” For many of my Alephs it was their first time being inducted into the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph. For others, they had the opportunity of having their first ever in-person B’nai Mitzvot experience. For me, it was my first time experiencing the extent to which I’ll have the platform to impact others throughout this next year.
Walking out of CLTC, my initial reaction is that the core principles of AZA hold true a century after our fraternity was first started. I witnessed with my own eyes a group of 20 Alephs who walked out of Poyntelle, Pennsylvania bound to one another as true Alephs. One of my favorite lines I heard from one of them throughout the whole session was, “ Wow! It feels like I’ve known you all my whole life!” Oh did that quote make me smile. But truly, he hit the hammer on the head of the magic of BBYO Summer. I experienced it myself and as has every other member of BBYO that went on a Summer program.
On the flipside, a line I’ve already heard one too many times this summer is, “I regret not going to BBYO Summer.” The FOMO is real. And, well, that’s a good thing. So, let us continue to build the hype around BBYO Summer as it is one of the core ways our movement is able to grow the next generation of inspired leaders, build deep connections between members, and at the end of the day just enjoy our summers as high schoolers.
My journey through the BBYO Summer landscape didn’t end quite yet. Alongside Courtney, I visited the fourth session of CLTC in addition to International Kallah, one of two programs that make up the Full Perlman Summer. My return to CLTC was not without a warm welcome from all the session four campers. Courtney and I had the honor of spearheading the Founders Fest booth at their ILN fair (hmmm two big Founders Day’s coming up perhaps) and serving as Sharks in their Shark Tank program. Both a lighthearted way to meet more faces in the movement and checkin on how that program was running. At Kallah, Courtney and I caught two integral programs: The Agents of Change Shabbat and the Israel 360 Seminar. Both experiences were hallmarked by amazing guests who served in a variety of panels and ran programs themselves.
Getting to be a participant for both the Agents of Change and Israel 360 programs were awesome. I personally expanded my knowledge on Israel vastly, and I think every single person at Kallah would agree that they either learned something new or heard something from a new perspective. I had the opportunity to personally talk with some of the guests, including a former Israeli Special Ops Investigator and a Palestinian Peace Advocate. In my discussion with both, I personally began to realize how much room there is for me and for others to grow our knowledge of Israel and of the current events in the Middle East.
After departing BBYO Summer for good, Courtney and I made our way down to Washington D.C. We spent the next three days grinding out our vision for the upcoming August Executives Conference, and we began to map out where our first Road to 100 tour stops will be. As we start to inch closer and closer to the beginning of the 2023-2024 programming year, I’m becoming progressively more excited for the year. I absolutely cannot wait to get on the road and continue to drive forward meaningful change for AZA and BBG.
Truly, this next year is going to be one to remember.
As always, 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.
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