Hundreds of BBYO chapters and communities across 20 countries in North America, South America, and Europe took part in BBYO’s Global Shabbat 2017 on Dec. 8 – 9. Jewish teen leaders hosted Friday night, Saturday morning, and Havdalah services in a truly international celebration of the joy of Shabbat.
Each gathering had its own special programming. For BBYO members in Virginia, that included an interfaith, Chanukah-style dinner and gift exchange with members of Little River United Church of Christ in Fairfax.
“In a time filled with pervasive racial and ethnic injustice, rising anti-Semitism, and a growing refugee crisis around the world, Global Shabbat is now a more important celebration than ever,” said Rae Williams, BBYO’s senior director of Movement Initiatives. “This year’s theme reminds us to embrace all neighbors across our community, our peoplehood, and our world in order to recognize that in the end, we are far more similar than we are different.”
Teens brought two gifts, one to exchange and one to donate. The donated gifts went to Toys for Tots, said a spokesperson for BBYO.
“Global Shabbat was such an enlightening experience for me because I got to share the power of BBYO with an interfaith community and learn about other faiths as well,” said Leah Kappel, a member of BBYO’s Northern Virginia Council.
A number of Holocaust survivors also joined the teens for the weekend for their induction as honorary members of Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA) and B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG), BBYO’s fraternity and sorority organizations. Started in 2015, this tradition at BBYO Shabbat gatherings is a symbolic way for survivors to relive their stolen childhoods.
BBYO is a pluralistic Jewish teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in meaningful Jewish experiences.
By Briana Naiman
Briana Naiman is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland.