My Experience Starting a Region and a Chapter at the Same Time

January 14, 2020
Joel Kaplan

Melbourne, Australia

Class of 2022

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Before BBYO made it’s way to Australia I wasn't very involved in the Jewish community but that all changed one day in late October of 2018… 

BBYO Australia has just passed its one year mark and I think it’s important to tell the story of our chapter. In late 2018, I was approached by one of the staff members from UJEB (United Jewish Education Board) about an organization that was yet to reach the waters of Australia: BBYO. I was then invited along with a few people from a nearby school, to a zoom call with the international board at the time. We learned all about BBYO and how it could change our lives. We loved the idea of bringing this movement to Australia, and we jumped on the opportunity. 

They invited us to the International Convention in Denver to learn about BBYO. Five boys and I got on a plane and flew to Denver in February of 2019. We instantly knew this was something we wanted to bring back to Australia. At IC, I spent most of my time talking to members of this amazing organization. It showed me the world of bbyo and the traditions I instantly fell in love with. Once we got back home, we started to plan our first event as a region (this is where the stressful part is), however, as we were a new chapter in a new country we all had different ideas on how BBYO should be run in Australia and we still do. Although we all had different ideas and opinions we were able to join together which resulted in pulling more than 40 prospects to some of our events, lots of new ideas, rushing at the last minute, calls around the world, and a set of experiences that I will never forget. A teen-led organization was something the Jewish teens of Australia hadn’t seen before, it was something new and we got the reward of giving “Jewish teens more meaningful Jewish experiences.” But that isn’t the end of it because we’re a new region and there is a lot more of this story that is left to be told.

Joel is an Aleph from BBYO Australia.

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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