Hello Message from the Chair of BBYLN National Committee
I hope your spring/summer is off to a great start. I know mine is and it all started several months ago when I was invited to join B’nai B’rith on its young leadership mission to Japan. I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been there, but what I saw and learned was beyond my expectations. Here is my take on the trip and the amazing things I saw.
After a pretty long delay in Chicago, we finally landed in Japan. With me were several members of BBYLN and a few college students from Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi). We were meeting up with the rest of our group in Tokyo, who left from Newark, N.J. The entire group was made up of both young professionals (men and women) from all over the United States, as well as several college students from the AEPi fraternity. All of the young professionals were members of the B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network. We were going to be part of a special program called the “KAKEHASHI project,” which is sponsored by the Foreign Ministry of Japan. It aims to build bridges between ordinary Japanese people and people from various countries. Our trip was specifically meant to introduce American Jews to the Japanese and vise versa. But if you read on you’ll find that the trip turned out to be an experience where individuals learned from each other and made friendships despite the language and custom barriers.
It was a phenomenal trip and I want to thank B’nai B’rith again for the opportunity. If you click here, or scroll down, you can read more of my thoughts on #BBYLNinJPN...
Chair, National Young Leadership Network
B’nai B’rith International
Hello Message from the Vice Chair of BBYLN National Committee
I would like to take this month to introduce myself to everyone. My name is Rachel Silvestain and I am the new vice chair for the Young Leadership Network. I have been involved with B’nai B’rith for the last 4 years and am very excited to take on this new role to help the Young Leadership Network grow both in the U.S. and across the world.
Over the past few months, I have realized what a great impact B’nai B’rith and their networks can have on someone. I am a Denver native and, besides my time in college, have lived in the Denver area my whole life. Recently I had a change in jobs and will be packing up my life in Denver and heading to Chicago. Moving comes with all sorts of emotions, leaving the life I had known for many years and starting something new. I have to leave the friends I have made here and the family that still lives in the area. It has been one of the most exciting and nerve racking experiences of my life so far. What has made it a little easier is knowing that I will always have the support and network that B’nai B’rith provides.
I will be pulling up to Chicago next week and already have a wonderful event to attend there. Having been to a few of the young professional conferences over the past few years and having the amazing opportunity to travel to Japan in March, I have been able to meet friends from across the country. This network has given me the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone and experience a whole new city. Knowing not only that there will be people I know from B’nai B’rith but that there is a B’nai B’rith presence in my new city has made this move a lot easier and a lot more exciting. I can’t wait to see what amazing things Chicago has to offer and how I can help B’nai B’rith grow.
Vice Chair, National Young Leadership Network
B’nai B’rith International
Jews & Brews – On February 18th, Jewish young professionals from BBYLN Chicago, Israel Bonds Young Investors, JNFuture and a Wider Bridge Chicago participated in Jews & Brews. Participants learned more about B’nai B’rith and its partners’ activities in Israel, had a beer or two and got a tour of the Revolution Brewery. Over 90 people attended.
Young Professionals Sunday Hike – On Sunday, January 9th, the South Florida group had its first event under its new chair, Jessica Kreger. She partnered with MOSAIC, an outdoor activities group in South Florida, for a two-hour hike. Participants enjoyed a peaceful hike through some of Florida’s most beautiful and diverse scenery.
Dinner & Discussion – On February 4th, young leaders in Washington, D.C. met at B’nai B’rith’s headquarters to hear B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin discuss the current rise in anti-Semitism, the status of the Jewish community and how millennials can be more involved.
Spring and Summer 2016
Denver – Every year, the members of B’nai B’rith in Colorado gather for one of everyone’s favorite events. This year’s event marks 20 years and will occur June 24-26. This wonderful weekend combines so much of what B’nai B’rith is about; Jewish history, community service and bonding with other Jews. It starts out with a camping trip for the young leadership where they will have the opportunity to hike, camp and volunteer at the local church serving dinner to the less fortunate. The weekend then continues with the cemetery cleanup on Sunday. This cemetery is the oldest Jewish cemetery west of the Mississippi and has been in around since the gold rush in the 1880s.
Over the last 20 years, with the help of B’nai B’rith and Temple Israel, the Jewish community has been able to maintain the cemetery as a beautiful a place where people are able to come and pay their respects. For more information about this amazing weekend, click here to visit the B’nai B’rith Denver page.
Florida – On June 3rd, BBYLN-South Florida and members of JConnect gathered for a Sushi, Sake and Samurai Shabbat. The groups enjoyed a taste of Japanese culture while welcoming Shabbat with other Jewish young professionals.
New York City –
YLN Mission to Japan – More from Ed Redensky
We spent the first night just outside of Tokyo, which at that point seemed very familiar to someone who has never been to Japan before. It was just like our major cities in the U.S. For our first day, we had breakfast in the hotel, which had both cereals and rice and miso soup, which many of us could not imagine eating first thing in the morning. And then we were off to the Foreign Ministry for our trip orientation and to learn about Japanese-U.S. relations. We also learned about their relationship with Israel.
After spending most of the first day in Tokyo, we drove up north to a hotel in the city of Nikko. A few things make Nikko special. Not only is there an active volcano nearby, but it is also the home to the Tokugawa Shogunate Shrine. But what made visit to Nikko interesting is the hotel onset-hot bath. Men and women bathe separately, and after showering, you immerse in communal hot bath. After spending the night in Nikko, we headed to Otawara City, where we met our host family, with whom we would spend the next 2 days, including Shabbat.
MORE: YLN Ventures to Japan as Part of the Kakeshi Project
Spending time with my host family was the most surprising part of the trip. Here I was, half way around the world, and yet I felt like was back home visiting my parents. My host family was made up of 3 generations living under one roof of a home that is over 100 years old. The grandparents were my parent’s age, the parents were my age and their young kids were just like my niece and nephew. We spent most of our time around the kitchen table eating and talking, while the grandmother cooked and the rest of the time, we ate and ate! This is very similar to my own family visits when my brother and I visit my mom. Other group members shared similar experiences with the addition of care packages.
This was first time our hosts met someone of the Jewish faith, even though they had hosted other foreign visitors before. The two days with the host family flew by, and before we knew it, we were saying good bye. We had a large going away lunch party with all of the host families. As part of the ceremony, the Japanese hosts sung traditional songs of children leaving a village to go work in a large city, and our group sung the Hora and showed them traditional Jewish dances, which was another first for all of our hosts.
Driving back to Tokyo for our final 24 hours was bitter sweet because even though we were happy to be going home, we were leaving new friends. We did stop at the Jewish Community Center of Tokyo, which was very interesting. There is a small but thriving Jewish community in Tokyo. The next visit was with an elected member of Parliament. We enjoyed a frank and friendly discussion of Japanese foreign policy. This was followed by an invitation to dinner with members of the Japanese parliament, their staff and the former Japanese ambassador to Israel, who is a personal friend of B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin.
Everyone enjoyed their final night in Tokyo, and before we knew it, we were at the airport heading home, having learned a bit, having shared some more and, most of all, having enjoyed the experience of a lifetime.
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Coming Soon! B’nai B’rith Young Families Network – BBYFN – Are you a young couple or have young children? Are you looking for a Jewish community group? Then the B’nai B’rith Young Families Network is the group for you! Let us know what kinds of activities you are interested in doing. Contact Rebecca Saltzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B’nai B’rith UK celebrated Yom Ha'atzmaut with the Zionist Federation with an annual concert. This year's event featured Dana International, with a 'Eurovision' theme, and other singers (and dancers) singing Eurovision songs.
B’nai B’rith organized a block/group booking for B'nai B'rith Young Professionals and had a very large turnout.
The Young Professionals are invited to our Breakfast Briefing at the end of the June, with the ambassador of Austria. Stay tuned for more information!
Adam Levoy – Adam Levoy is the chair of the BBYLN-NJ and an active member of the Young Leadership National Committee. Born in White Plains, N.Y., he moved to Scotch Plains in 1987. He went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he majored in English and minored in psychology. Shortly after graduating, he went to graduate school at Montclair State University, where he earned his masters degree in teaching. Adam now teaches English to high school students. He enjoys Shabbat dinners and other B’nai B’rith events. He recently participated in the B’nai B’rith young leadership trip to Japan. He is also this years Young Leadership Award Recipient from B’nai B’rith Lodge #2093 in Springfield, N.J.
Daniel Citone – Daniel Citone of Rome, Italy, earned the 2015 Label A. Katz Young Leadership Award, named for the youngest person to achieve the office of international president of B’nai B’rith. Citone recently assumed the presidency of B’nai B’rith Europe—the youngest person ever to serve in that role. Citone has been involved in B'nai B'rith since 1994, when he founded the youth lodge of Rome. In 2008, he organized the second B’nai B’rith Europe Young Adult Forum in Rome. He has taken part in B’nai B’rith International missions to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
He has also served as a senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International, and was a member of the executive committee of B’nai B’rith Europe. Citone, along with other B’nai B’rith Europe leaders, took part in a solidarity trip in southern Israel during the 2014 Hamas terror incursion into Israel. He focuses his involvement on advocating for Israel, informing people about the Jewish state and on Judaism, as well as fighting anti-Semitism.
During the captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Citone worked diligently with the Shalit Committee, helping to organize an event outside the Coliseum in Rome, where the mayor of Rome conferred honorary citizenship on the captive Israeli soldier, installing his name on the wall of the town hall.
The B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network would like to wish Tali Schwartz a mazel tov on her marriage to Joe Nahamias!
The B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network would like to wish a mazel tov to Adam Levoy on his Young Leadership Award from B’nai B’rith Lodge #2093 on June 15th.
Contact Danielle Ross (email@example.com) or Cary Wolovick (firstname.lastname@example.org) at B’nai B’rith if you would like to add a special simcha wish!