Q: How did BBYO affect your life after graduating high school and going into college?
A: BBYO taught me how to communicate and easily meet new people. When starting my freshman year of college it was so easy for me to make friends because of the social skills I learned in BBYO. I was also able to get involved in so many leadership positions through my experiences through BBYO in high school and my ability to pitch myself. In my first semester of college I was elected as a senator for Miami University's Associated Student Government (ASG), elected as the community engagement coordinator for my dorm's Community Leadership Team (CLT), appointed to plan and lead an alternative break trip to St. Louis, freshman engagement intern for Students for Israel at Miami (SIM), Community Relations Director for HawkPAC (our AIPAC club) and so many more opportunities. Everyone I knew was so impressed by the task load I had taken on as soon as I entered college but I had BBYO to thank for preparing me for this and giving me the ability to be selected for all of it.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories of your time in BBYO?
A: Some of my favorite memories from BBYO were CLTC and serving on regional board. I am still in contact with some of my friends from CLTC and I know they're going to be in my life forever. The bonds I built in those 12 days are stronger than most others and I wouldn't trade those people for the world. Serving on regional board was so rewarding and really impacted my high school experience. I loved being able to make a direct impact on the region and individuals and seeing all of my hopes and dreams come to fruition. I got to teach younger leaders how to make a difference and watch them grow, which was so inspiring.
Q: Do you still have any physical ties to it (such as pins or clothing)?
A: I still have a bunch of sweatshirts that I wear constantly. I had a lot of pins that have such strong meaning to me, but I wanted to give them to the younger members so I could pass them on and they could cherish them as much as I did. One of my pins my chapter advisor gave to me before my regional board election. This pin was from her regional board election and meant so much to her. It was a symbol of how much she believed in me, and I wanted to pass on this symbol of faith to another member who inspired me.
Q: Are you still in touch with the people you met in BBYO?
A: The only people I still talk to from high school are from BBYO. They're my best friends, and being Jewish and in BBYO made our friendship as strong as it is. I may not have even met most of them if BBYO wasn't a part of my life, and I am eternally grateful that these beautiful, kind women who I met in a high school youth group will be in my wedding party.
Q: Are you currently in a sorority/fraternity? Did your time in BBYO influence your choice to join one? In what ways is the sorority/fraternity experience similar AND different to BBYO?
A: I am currently in a sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi. I always knew I wanted to join a sorority because the older girls I knew from BBYO all graduated and joined a sorority. I also wanted to have a strong sisterhood in college as I did in high school. I constantly see parallels between BBYO and greek life in college. One of these things was the strength of the sisterhood I have between me and my sisters. I had a similar sisterhood in high school, and I was so excited when I found this in college.
Q: Did your experiences in BBYO influence any of your future plans (i.e. to include more Judaism into your daily life)?
A: I would not be this involved in Judaism if it weren't for BBYO. BBYO taught me to love services and practice my Judaism. Before BBYO I was scared to tell people I was Jewish but now it is the most important part of my identity. I served as an intern at our Hillel as well as currently serving as the president for our Students for Israel club and our AIPAC club on campus. In student government, I constantly use my voice to advocate for Jewish students and make sure that everyone feels safe to be their true selves on campus. I am so grateful that BBYO taught me to love this part of my identity as I do today and cannot wait to raise my kids Jewish and for them to join this organization.
Jess Daninhirsch is a BBG from Keystone Mountain Region who loves journalism, photography, art, music, and dance.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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