Baltimore— A year after being held as one of the Jewish community’s largest virtual gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BBYO International Convention (IC) convened in-person once again over President’s Day weekend, February 17–21, 2022, in Baltimore, uniting over 2,500 Jewish teens from 40 countries around the world. With extensive health and safety measures in place, this was the biggest in-person Jewish gathering since COVID began— one of the biggest of any kind— and provided teens an opportunity to come together and connect with like-minded peers to define a future for themselves and their communities around this year’s theme: “The Power of Us.”

Delegates met and heard from a variety of inspiring speakers at IC 2022, including: Mike Posner, Grammy-nominated Singer, Songwriter, and Record Producer; Josh Kraft, President of Kraft Family Philanthropies; Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue of New York; Simu Liu, Actor and Writer, Marvel Cinematic Universe;Corey Stern, Attorney against the City of Flint, State of Michigan; Eve Barlow, Freelance Music Journalist; A.J. Dillon, Running Back, Green Bay Packers; Jurnee Smollett, Emmy-nominated actress and activist;and Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, among many others. The weekend’s programming focused on expanding leadership skills, finding ways to serve the local Baltimore community, and working together to strengthen the Jewish future.

Leads Day Plenary panel, led by Eve Barlow (L), Freelance Music Journalist. Featuring Zach Banner, Pittsburgh Steelers (CL), Josh Kraft, President of Kraft Family Philanthropies (CR), and a BBYO teen participant (R).

This year’s event featured the full diversity of the BBYO community, with nearly 400 global delegates attending. New communities in South Africa, Sydney, Australia, Morocco, and Romania sent delegations for the first time to IC. And, as part of the record-breaking demand among global teens to attend IC, groups of over 50 delegates each arrived from Germany, Spain, and Argentina to participate, not to mention the hundreds of teens from 35+ additional countries across Europe, Asia, and South America. As is customary at IC, delegates chose to rally around a local organization to collect donations for those in need. This year they donated school supplies, fidget toys, and health products to the St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC), Baltimore’s oldest youth enrichment center whose mission is to end generational poverty.

“This event is truly about celebrating the power of being together. There is simply no other segment in society that can match the enthusiasm, optimism, and courage of this generation to build a better world for all of us,” said Matthew Grossman, Chief Executive Officer of BBYO. “IC is a place where people, ideas, opinions, and creativity come together, where diversity is celebrated, and the future defined.”

IC 2022 also convened many of the Jewish community’s leading philanthropists, professionals and influencers to collaborate on key issues, facing young people and youth-serving organizations. For the first time, delegates ran and participated in a 24-hour Symposium on Israel Education, which explored new opportunities for youth-serving organizations to support teens as they cultivate a connection to Israel. IC 2022 featured another first-of-its-kind collaboration between BBYO with JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® (JWB), the signature program of JCC Association of North America, that serves the religious needs of Jewish military personnel, their families, and patients in VA hospitals. This year, JWB and BBYO have joined forces to guarantee all active U.S. military and diplomatic corps families around the world free membership to BBYO for their teens, as well as discounts and special offers to attend events, participate in conventions, and partake in BBYO summer leadership and travel programs. For a recap of events, find recordings of select sessions on Facebook Live and YouTube Live via BBYO’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. An entire schedule of the weekend’s proceedings is available on BBYO’s International Convention event page.

Baltimore Times
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