By Elena Okowita
More than 120 teens from the BBYO North Texas Oklahoma region gathered with more than 3,000 Jewish teens from around the world at the organization’s International Convention in Denver over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 14 to Feb. 18. The convention featured seminars, as well as celebrities, business leaders, political figures and philanthropists from more than 36 countries. It was co-planned by local teen Aidan Jacoby, who is BBYO’s international vice president.
Jacoby, son of Karla and Eric Jacoby of Plano, described the planning process as a marathon, with lots of late-night phone calls, stressful meetings and management of close to 300 teens, However, once he stepped out on the stage during the convention’s opening ceremonies and saw the entire convention body for the first time, it was all worth it, Jacoby explained.
“Planning BBYO’s international convention provided me with the opportunity to grow as both a Jewish leader and a secular teen,” Jacoby said. “My time on calls, spreadsheets and documents ultimately paid off as I watched more than 6,000 people appreciate the hard work of our team.”
The “team,” as Jacoby refers to it, consisted of the IC steering committee made up of other BBYO teens from around the globe. This committee was led and supervised by Jacoby, who credited the convention’s success to this group.
“Their hard work made convention possible, and being able to celebrate with them after their programming was implemented was very rewarding,” he said.
Two North Texas teens — Kian Roy, son of Jenni and Gavin Roy of Dallas, and Ethan Freed, son of Dana and Larry Freed of Plano — were elected to the International Board for the 2019-2020 term.
Roy, who was elected Grand Aleph Mazkir, or international secretary, said his motivation to run stemmed from the opportunity to make an impact upon others. He is excited to act as a leader and role model for the next generation of Jewish teens.
“Being on the board gives me the opportunity to interact with teens and adults from all across the globe, while really learning how to successfully connect and build relationships with my peers,” he said. “My influence will hopefully inspire others to find their passion for Judaism, enhancing our Jewish futures while creating strong friendships with fellow Jews from around the world.”
In his new position, Roy will be responsible for coordinating the International Leadership Training Conference, a three-week summer session at BBYO’s Perlman Camp in Pennsylvania.
The session is full of leadership and Jewish enrichment,” Roy said. “Having the chance to build special moments and bond with all of the teens in attendance will be an amazing experience, and allow me to finish my term on board with one last special opportunity.”
Ethan Freed was elected to the position of Grand Aleph Gizbor, or international treasurer. Inspired by past members who continued to push him further into his BBYO journey, Freed is grateful and excited for the opportunities that are ahead.
“Past members of my chapter put their time and dedication into me, and I knew that I had to give back to the organization that gave me so much,” he said.
As the new treasurer, Freed plans on using his position to make a real and lasting impact on the organization.
“I plan on expanding the current monetary sources that BBYO has, to ensure that BBYO can continue to grow to countries that lack funds, so we can fight the 80 percent post-bar mitzvah drop-off rate,” he said. “Let’s show that being Jewish has never been about being; it has always been about doing.”
Dallas will host the International Convention next year. The city will welcome over 5,000 teens, guest speakers, stakeholders, and performers over the weekend of Feb. 13-17, 2020. With local leaders like Roy and Freed at the helm, IC 2020 is sure to continue its legacy of success and Jewish continuity.
There will be many volunteer opportunities to get involved with the planning of IC Dallas. Email Lory Conte, BBYO senior regional director, at LConte@bbyo.org to learn more!