New England teens join in virtual BBYO convention


On the weekend of Feb. 13, over 2,000 Jewish teens met on a virtual platform for the BBYO International Convention 2021. Forty-three of those teens came from the BBYO New England Region, made up of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

The convention provided many opportunities for participants to get to know Jewish teens from around the world, along with appearances by famous guest speakers, including   NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, who spoke about social justice; “Unorthodox” actor Amit Rahav, who talked about his meaningful experience playing Yanky Shapiro, a character who was much more invested in Judaism than he was; and actor Rebel Wilson discussing body positivity and her experience playing a Nazi in the Holocaust movie “Jojo Rabbit.” 

Other speakers included comedian Pete Davidson, chef Michael Solomonov, singer-songwriter Kesha, Israeli basketball star Deni Avdija, Israeli singer Netta Barzilai and former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

The convention also featured numerous Jewish experiences, such as Shabbat services, discussions with Holocaust survivors and rabbi-led conversations on a variety of topics. 

I didn’t really know what to expect from my first BBYO International Convention, but even though it was virtual I still thoroughly enjoyed the programs and was able to meet people from all around the world, and to make many new friends. 

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a community-building captain for the convention, one of six teens from around the country who spearheaded the “virtual roommate” experience. During the planning, some of the other community-building captains became some of my closest friends.

With over 20,000 members from over 50 countries, BBYO is the largest pluralistic Jewish youth group in the world. It is a place for people to meet and bond with Jewish teens in eighth through 12th grade from around the world, to explore and strengthen their Jewish identity and to gain leadership skills.

For me, BBYO has become a major part of my life, and has given me some of my greatest memories while helping me become my best self.

JACK ELICE, 16, attends the Moses Brown School, in Providence. He is a BBYO New England Region member and serves as a regional vice president of Judaism, Community Service, and Israel Experiences.