BBYO | AZA & BBG | International Convention | Summer

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What “Let There Be Light” Means to BBYO

February 1, 2019
Caroline Kramer

San Francisco, California, United States

The power of Shabbat is undeniable.

There’s something magical about it all- the warm glow of the Shabbat candles, the highly-anticipated Shabbat dinner, and the harmonious sound as your family joins in for the Shabbat blessings. But perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of Shabbat is the recognition that you are one among millions of Jewish people around the world following these similar traditions.

This is what BBYO set out to capture and celebrate on December 7: the power of the Jewish community.

In hundreds of BBYO chapters, communities, and regions across more than 20 countries, Jewish teens, families, and special guests demonstrated the magnificence of the Jewish people with Global Shabbat programs encompassing the theme, “Let There Be Light.” From eye-opening interfaith services to moving guest panels, no Global Shabbat was the same, but every community put their own beautiful spin on the meaning of light.

Following communal services, Nassau-Suffolk Region heard from Henry Rappaport, who was born in a displaced persons’ camp following the Holocaust. Attendees listened as he told his emotional story of returning to Poland to save approximately 40 Torah scrolls. To close off the powerful night, NSR inducted Henry Rappaport into AZA. Ross Oginsky, an Aleph in NSR, reflected on his region’s Global Shabbat, noting that it “captured the theme of ‘Let There Be Light’ because [they] were able to shine a light onto the atrocities of the past” so as to “build a better future.”

Greater Atlanta Region crafted an educational and interactive experience for Global Shabbat 2018. Alysha Bold, the Sh’licha of GAR, excitedly summarized the event, describing “an international fair that ‘shed light’ on Jewish populations around the world such as India, Argentina, Shanghai, Bulgaria, Israel, and Macedonia,” as well as the opportunity for attendees to hear from a local Israeli Scouts chapter. Combined with meaningful services, GAR’s Global Shabbat captured the theme of “Let There Be Light” in an engaging, insightful, and unforgettable way.

Evergreen Region explored the power of interfaith relations through a service-focused, thought-provoking Shabbat. Jewish teens of EGR attended their Global Shabbat event planned by Kiana Gellman, the Regional Doverit, alongside members of both the Christian and Buddhist faiths. Throughout the night, teens were introduced to the customs and practices of the other religions, gaining an understanding of their similarities and differences through hands-on learning experiences. Rose Leveen, the Gizborit of EGR, noted the meaningful connection between the event and the Global Shabbat theme, recalling that “each religion showed different prayers related to the theme of lights and candles.” Overall, EGR’s Global Shabbat both shed light on different communities and celebrated the various meanings of light in a way that truly “Let There Be Light.”

These examples are just three of the many Global Shabbat events that took place throughout the International Order. Whether you were inspired by your own experience or the story of a friend’s, remember the way that you and your community can spread the light as you enter 2019.

Caroline Kramer is a BBG from Central Region West who loves photography and strawberry lemonade.

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