Note from Author: Hey everyone! This was written a few months ago, and I have since experienced a lot of the experiences I described as being “deprived of”. However, I still believe this article is very important to show how the class of 2025 was introduced into BBYO. Enjoy!
I’ve only ever watched BBYO from afar, behind a piece of metal projecting all of the memories I’m supposed to make surrounded by my community, being made on a computer screen in my room. Although I have attended IC, chapter events, regional conventions, and a summer program, I have only ever felt the warmth of my community from my computer heating up from zoom, or the breath of Jewish pride from behind a mask. I have never hugged my friends in congratulation for them having been elected to board, only sending them simple texts of ‘Mazel Tov!’ The plentiful stories of unforgettable memories made at BBYO I have heard at Senior Lives seem as if they are myths, fairy tales, or urban legends. I have started the most exciting part of being a Jewish teen virtually. My name is Heather Kletzky, and this is my story of becoming a MIT during a pandemic.
When I began my journey in BBYO, I had a good concept of what it was or supposed to be. I have attended a Jewish Day School since kindergarten, and have had many friends who have older siblings who have served on chapter and regional boards. I knew BBYO was about the bonds you made with your chapter, as well as siblings across the globe. I knew how exciting it was to receive your chapter, and how you bond with them. However, my BBYO journey didn’t begin like that.
As IC was held virtually this year, 8th graders were allowed to attend, and I was among those who did. IC was my very first taste of BBYO, and boy was it sweet. Over my time at IC I made a whole new friend group, attended leadership programs, listened to influential people speak, and met new friends across the globe through MeetUp, or more commonly known as “BBYOmegle.” I woke up every morning beyond excited for the day at IC and was sad when the day was over and my friends had gone to bed. When IC ended, I knew that I had found my own world where I could thrive, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it. Shortly after IC, I was placed in my heart and home, Leah Faye BBG 2310. Coming right out of IC and into my chapter gave me the enthusiasm to grow as a leader and build my chapter up.
Joining 2310 was such an amazing experience. The incredible chapter board at the time worked as hard as they could to create an introduction to our chapter as similar to how it would have been in person. As a region and chapter, a countless number of zoom calls were hosted during the late winter and spring, and I attended each and every one with a passion. Because of IC, I truly believe it gave me a hunger and eagerness to grow in BBYO. When I found out that MITs and AITs would not be allowed to run for the fall/winter board, I was devastated. However, our chapter N’siah told me not to worry and to write all my ideas down for next term, so that's what I did. I started keeping a notebook with all my ideas for my chapter based on what position I wanted to run for.
Next to my chapter notebook is the first Red Book I ever received; I received it from my chapter Big, and she received it from her Big. Although it is outdated, I still rely on it for any questions I may have that my friends may not be able to answer. While I now own a brand-new 2019 edition of the Red Book, I always look back to the torn and bent 2013 edition for my questions because of all the memories it holds. Many of the memories it has been a part of are ones I have yet to experience and may have to wait a while for them, such as sleepovers, in-person elections, and many more. My 2019 edition represents the BBG journey that I have entered, and the 2013 edition represents the BBG journey I hope I will explore and experience one day.
While becoming a MIT during the pandemic is one of the firsts in BBYO that I got to start (and hopefully end), there is another experience that I got to be among the firsts. This summer I attended The Order’s first session of Camp BBYO at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp. Attending the first Camp BBYO was weird, to say the least. I had two covid tests, I wore masks everywhere, I practiced social distancing, and heard “during these unprecedented times” an unprecedented amount of times. Despite all of this, I had an amazing experience. I made friends with some of the strongest connections I have ever felt, I learned about the importance of our movement, tasted Perlman’s not-so-spectacular food and laughed about it, learned about leadership and friendship, and loved every second of it. This summer program made me eager to not only join boards but also committees and steer.
Joining BBYO in a pandemic is nothing that has ever been done before. While I may not know from first-hand experiences what the adventure is supposed to be, I have formed my own. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish that I joined during a normal time, but I don’t believe I would have found my passion for the order to the same extent. In many ways joining BBYO during a pandemic has been harder than in normal circumstances, but in many more ways, it has been easier and a better taste of what BBYO has to offer. Now that I have experienced the movement from behind a screen and had a great time, I am thrilled to experience it to its fullest extent.
Heather Kletzky is a BBG from Rocky Mountain Region and loves to travel!
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.
How different BBYO regions captured this year’s Global Shabbat theme: “Let There Be Light
Read along to hear about 10 aspects to look forward to for Delta Region’s first in-person convention since 2019!
Get The Shofar blasted to your inboxSubscribe