Every Tuesday (with exceptions) Hurricanes AZA meets at 7 PM at the Alper JCC in the area of Kendall in Miami, Florida. After a round of high-fives we get right into the procedures to open our meeting. As soon as we finish, we go straight into programming. Whether it is a massive game of ultimate frisbee, or a game of Manhunt spanning the entire JCC, I know we are always in for a treat. I usually leave for a few minutes with one or two of my friends to hang out with N’Shamah BBG, the BBG chapter that shares the JCC with us. Besides for these quick interactions, there is not much shared between these chapters, at least not at the JCC.
There is a tradition among these chapters that has been around longer than I have been in BBYO. Every week, immediately following our meetings, a caravan of cars, including my own, drives to a specific location of a local Miami fast-food chain: Chicken Kitchen. Around 20 BBG’s and 10 AZA’s walk through the doors, completely filling up the small mostly takeout restaurant. After ordering, we put all of the tables together, creating 2 or 3 massive banquet tables. We spend close to an hour sitting there, often spending more time there than in the JCC. All Miami Region Teens are invited, so attendance to our chicken outings is always good.
While playing football with my AZA chapter is meaningful and fun, some of my best memories come from Chicken Kitchen. As we eat our bowls of chicken and rice, we discuss our weeks, talk about how we’re doing, laugh, and bond over shared experiences. Topics range from how hard an AP class is, to how excited we are for a new album, to even how good the chicken is. We spend hours programming and planning meaningful events, but one of the most meaningful parts of our BBYO experience is the shared moments over the same fast food chicken we eat every week. As good as the chicken is, it is not the flavors that make this such a powerful experience for both of our chapters. It is merely the fact that we are all sharing a common experience, and doing so in a casual sense. As a S’gan, it is slightly frustrating to see planned programming fall behind a bowl of chicken and rice with curry sauce, but I believe there is a deeper level to this.
The reason we all love our chicken dinners so much is that it brings us together. It is a small and simple thing that we all share and bond over. It is not about the taste of the chicken (as amazing as it is), but rather the experience of coming together. Many prospects attend these dinners, and it often excites them more for BBYO than the meetings themselves, as they see the real human connections created through BBYO. In no way is this a substitute for our regular meetings, but after an hour of basketball, there is nothing better than driving 4 of my friends to Chicken Kitchen while blasting Israeli pop. What this teaches me is that the most valuable thing isn’t anything on paper or even powerful ideas, but instead human connections and the individual relationships we foster together, including those formed over a warm and fresh chicken chop-chop. If you ever find yourself in Miami, make your way to Chicken Kitchen at Suniland Shopping Center, and you’ll find Hurricanes AZA and N’Shamah BBG munching away at our chopped chicken, and you can feel free to join us.
Luiz Gandelman is an Aleph living in Miami, Florida who loves learning new languages.
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.
As everyone returns to their lives, let’s take a look back on the amazing International Convention that just concluded.
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