I have met some of my best friends through BBYO, only because we shared a love for a Jewish holiday or attended an event or program together.
As a Jewish teen in 2022, I have always had the blessing of being able to surround myself with members of the Jewish community. I have always attended private Jewish day schools, but I am also greatly involved in BBYO. This Jewish youth organization has been the place where I have met so many other Jewish teens and broadened my Jewish education.
I started my BBYO journey during freshman year of high school. Originally, I placed myself into a chapter that I only joined because I knew people. This caused me to not enjoy my time, and I felt out of place. I then switched over to a smaller chapter, where I have been able to thrive and feel a sense of belonging. I only knew a few members, but I immediately noticed that the environment was a better fit for me and a place that I could grow in. I joined BBYO because I wanted to be able to make new friends and simultaneously share a love for Judaism. When I finally found my place in BBYO, I was able to ultimately experience the true magic of the organization.
In May 2022, my BBYO chapter, Emunah BBG, hosted annual elections for the chapter board. I knew I was looking for a leadership role to take part in, and once I found the area that spoke to me, I knew I had to run. Weeks before the election day, I did a lot of research on the aspects of the position and kept finding that my personal values aligned with the elements of the role. I campaigned, made pamphlets and crafted a speech that would prove my qualifications to the chapter.
When election day eventually came around, I had the honor to be elected as Emunah BBG’s 18th Sh’licha. It meant that I was elected to be in charge of my chapter’s Jewish aspects and programming, along with other fundraising projects. This area specifically spoke to me because it has given me the opportunity to share my love of Judaism with other teens.
During my time in this position, I have been able to plan and run a few Shabbos and Havdalah programs, along with events to celebrate many Jewish holidays. In the future, I plan to continue constructing Jewish programs to be able to keep Jewish tradition and culture present throughout my chapter.
I have met some of my best friends through BBYO, only because we shared a love for a Jewish holiday or attended an event or program together. If more teens got involved with Jewish youth organizations like BBYO, they would find what I have discovered: These groups provide nothing but joy and Jewish connection.
Overall, I have pride in my accomplishments in my Jewish education and identity, and I will continue to spread the love for Jewish expression and appreciation for many years to come.
Talia Begres is a junior at Frankel Jewish Academy.