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Jonathan van der Veen
Heterodox Contrarian

Red River BBYO Has ‘Most Successful Year’ in maybe a Decade

This year was a resounding success for BBYO in Winnipeg. The B’nai B’rith Youth Organization is a group for Jewish Teens, and with this year’s spring programming having just ended, I got a chance to talk with Jonah Posner, the BBYO Regional Coordinator for the Red River Region.

Jonah was thrilled with the level of community engagement, and said, “This was probably our most successful year that we’ve had in over half a decade, maybe more!”

In particular, Jonah spoke about several of the major BBYO events this year, all of which had great turnout!

In the aftermath of the horrific October 7th terrorist attacks, the BBYO community rallied together to fundraise for Israel and the Hostages. Jonah said, “The teens raised over $4,000 doing two fundraisers, and all the money went directly to a fund for the Israeli soldiers -which I think was pretty cool!”

At the end of April BBYO held their Spring Convention at Camp Manitou, which is a children’s camp located just outside the perimeter of the city. There they hosted over a hundred Jewish teenagers.

The Spring Convention is a fun weekend community retreat for the teens, which is all planned and led in-part by them. One of the important things they did at the Spring Convention was elect new regional boards. This included voting-in and announcing Dylan Weinstein & Edin Mednikov as the new regional presidents. Jonah said he was excited to work with the new leaders and praised the work of those being replaced, the outgoing presidents: Michael London and Hannah Berkowitz. Remarking on them he said, “They did a great job of setting everything up. Along with myself, we made sure everything was good, and the teens had a great time.”

At the end of spring, beginning of summer, Jonah said that BBYO held their last “real” big event for the year, their End of the Year Gala. He was happy to report that “our Fundraising end of year gala was a huge success at the Qualico Center!” There, BBYO raised over $14,000.

Beyond the impressive fundraising amounts Jonah stressed that the Gala was also an important opportunity to reflect on and acknowledge the community’s accomplishments, saying, “It was nice having a program that honoured all of our team’s accomplishments this year. We gave away, thanks to Earl and Cheryl Barish and their generosity, a scholarship that was kind of immortalised in the name of Vivian Silver. The two recipients, one from AZA and one from BBG, received, had to apply for the award, fill in a pretty detailed application and were selected by a panel of three judges that chose two separate people and they ended up being gifted the award.” The two individuals chosen for the award are Dyland Weinstein and Emily Tapper.

A big ‘feather in the cap’ for BBYO Red River Region this year was the very successful International Convention, which is often considered a highlight of any kids’ BBYO experience. Jonah described it as “a massive organisational convention where almost 70, countries from around the world gather at a selected city in the United States that we opted for this year.”

“At the International Convention, they celebrate what it means to be Jewish, what it means to be a part of a group of young Jewish teens that really kind of are trying to shape Judaism, show how it’s okay to be openly Jewish, and it’s good to be able to represent our people in a positive and amazing way! It’s also a way to do so, not just with your peers that you live in the same city with, but it shows you that you have connective tissue all over the world!”

Jonah was very happy about the level of teen turnout this year at the convention. “There were up to 4,000 teams from all over the globe that were in one place and celebrated the BBYO’s centennial year!” He exclaimed. Continuing, he said, “Winnipeg and Red River sent 70 teams, which is double what our number was in previous years, and it was the second most in all outside of the United States, which is a pretty incredible accomplishment for little Winnipeg!”

In the summer Jonah says BBYO programming simmers down. “Essentially, BBYO goes from September 1st all the way till about June 20th every year. And then the last week of June and then July and August are mainly just the summer. Teens go to camp, like, ‘BB’ and Massad. And then it’s kind of like a break within the year of all the amazing things we’ve done.”

BBYO’s first big program of the fall season is going to be on September 1st. However, Jonah says during the summer, their regional board members are still hard at work recruiting; so, if you or your child are interested, reach out and talk to someone about signing up for the Autumn programming! BBYO is for teens going into grade 8 all the way through 12.
Lastly, Jonah would also like to thank the Rady JCC who “has been an incredible partner for us and has supported us since the beginning!”

BBYO Will return in the fall with some exciting programming! For More info, please contact (204) 477-7547.

About the Author
I did my BA at Mount Allison University in Canada, studying History & Political Science. Thereafter, I began to pursue a degree in Journalism but took a hiatus from school to accept numerous job offers. I got my start in writing working for ERETZ: the Magazine of Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel. From my homeland Canada I have been published by both the National Post, and Jewish Post & News. The paper I currently write for and help publish is The Jewish Post -the successor to the now defunct paper: The Jewish Post & News. As a researcher and writer, I believe that applying historical context along with an in-depth knowledge of regional identity and political ideologies is the best way to identify and explain current geopolitical trends as well as forecast growing tension and unrest in future areas of conflicts -militarily, politically, and economically.
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