[by Natania Lipp, Teen Topics Editor]
On the weekend of November 15-17, the Jewish Community Center hosted a regional BBYO event. The convention includes a basketball tournament for boys, and sisterhood programming for girls.
At 6 that evening, teens started coming in from Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Dayton. All of Friday night was focused on Global Shabbat, a night where BBYO teens all over the world celebrate one Shabbat with a theme and extra significance to provide unity and appreciation for Judaism throughout the order.
Both girls and boys have themes for the weekend, this years’ being “Im Tirtzu, Ein Zoh Hagadah” (If You Will It, It Is No Dream) for the boys, and “Omdim B’yachad, Am Echad, Bayit Echad,” (We Stand Together, One Nation, One Home) for the girls.
To honor this special occasion the teens had dinner and then had a special service by candlelight. They were encouraged to put their cell phones in boxes to get the full experience, and the majority obliged. A service with great discussion followed with electives led by the regional board, which were also Shomer Shabbos. Activities included ghost stories, massage circles, song singing, and discussions about life.
Saturday began with services as well, separating girls and boys to focus on their individual Global Shabbat themes. The girls had an “Around the World” service with trivia about Jewish culture in different countries, because from the furthest corners of the world the Jewish teens are still all united, one nation, one home.
The rest of the convention for the girls was focused on sisterhood, so they did fun bonding programming throughout the day. After services they were able to relax with an hour of yoga. Then, they were split into groups representing countries in order to continue the theme of the morning and competed in performing skits and dances as their country.
After lunch, the energy was still high and they were ready for some Krav Maga lessons. The girls learned how to punch and kick, and were also given valuable advice for future self-defense. Everyone was sad to see the session end, until a new project was put before them.
This time, the girls were split into their chapters, and instructed to make canvas art for the chapter to their right, using sharpie to write one word to describe them and then melting crayons onto the masterpiece with blow dryers. The creativity of each member truly showed throughout the program, along with the obvious love the chapters have for each other.
Meanwhile, the boys were preparing for a night full of basketball. Since games could not start until the sun set, practicing was a full-day activity. The boys enjoyed bonding as their teamwork improved during practice, and made sitting on the sidelines fun for each other when they weren’t on the court.
After a long day of scrimmaging the boys were definitely hungry for dinner, and as they crowded into the auditorium for food the girls and boys were finally able to reunite again. However, immediately afterwards the girls had more programming to do and the boys were ready to get back to the courts and start their games. After an enthusiastic Havdallah, it was time to go their separate ways again.
The girls started off the nighttime programming with dessert. However, they had to earn it first. The regional board places piles of candy, ice cream, apples, and other treats on a table, then split the girls into five groups. Their first task was to make charoset. The regional board lined up in front of the table, taste testing each concoction and rating it according to taste and presentation. Other tasks included blindfolding one girl from each group and having her make an ice cream sandwich, and building candy sculptures.
The last main activity of the evening was separates, a program planned separately by girls and boys regional board at every convention. Sometimes the programs were serious enough to make everyone cry and share their biggest secrets, but this time the board wanted it to be fun and encompass their theme for the weekend: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.
The girls stayed in their groups to have discussions about what the symbolism of fire means to them, and then regional board members each shared her own personal connection to the word, including passion, determination, and journeys.
However, the program didn’t end there. Girls were led outside and given Chinese lanterns to light and send off into the sky. This cute idea turned out to be more of a hazard than expected; although that girls had tested it to make sure it worked earlier that day, the wind had picked up a lot since then. On their second try lighting the lantern, it only made it to the top of one of the trees and luckily burned out before causing damage. The experience caused everyone to panic for a minute, but it will definitely remain a memorable night for everyone there.
The night finished with karaoke, and free time for the girls as the boys played their real games. They left that night in the middle of their tournament, with Columbus, Louisville, and Indianapolis in the lead and ready to battle for the champion title the next day.
Sunday went by quickly; as the convention ended at twelve. The girls were given free time to spend the last of their time together, but the boys still had multiple games to play. First, Cincinnati lost to Indianapolis. Then, Louisville creamed Columbus.
The championship had finally narrowed down to Louisville and Indianapolis, and everyone was anxious to see the results. The Louisville boys had been the favorite having won six years in a row before losing in the finals last year, However, Indianapolis had taken a huge step up and were physically much bigger than the Kentucky boys.
The game was a close call for the whole time, but in the end Louisville could not conquer the giant Indiana team and lost by 5 points. The boys from Louisville were sad to have lost but happy with how much fun they had had throughout the weekend.
The brotherhood of all of the guys grew stronger, and overall they felt successful. Teens were sad to leave after having such an amazing weekend, but they look forward to seeing each other at their regional convention in December.