2016-12-21 / Columns

‘WinterCon’ helps South Jersey Region come together

56th Regional Mazkirim

Having a great time at “WinterCon” were (from left), Jackie Kistler, Rom Katav, Ben Forsman, Evan Wax and Danielle Lev. Having a great time at “WinterCon” were (from left), Jackie Kistler, Rom Katav, Ben Forsman, Evan Wax and Danielle Lev. Now that it is December and Chanukah is rapidly approaching, SJR hosts its annual “WinterCon,” formerly known as “Winter Retreat.” This convention consists of three separate portions; Brotherhood (AZA), Sisterhood (BBG), and Sh’lichim Convention (Co-ed).

Over the weekend of December 9-11, SJR gathered to bond and unite as a region through brotherhood/sisterhood and Judaism/Community Service. This year’s theme was “We are the movement,” which was meant to inspire members to be a part of this organization for as long as they can and to make the most of their time in BBYO. We had over 100 participants this year, so the pressure was on for coordinators to make this an unforgettable experience for members of all ages.

This year’s Sisterhood was certainly one for the books. Sisterhood is meant to bond SJR BBG together as one region. Sisterhood is meant to veer away from the chapters and branch out to meet new people. Chapter apparel is strictly prohibited at Sisterhood in order to help unite the region.

SJR Senior Brynn Soler said, “Sisterhood was an amazing experience that allowed me to reach out to new people in the region and become closer to all the BBGs, which is exactly what Sisterhood strives to offer participants annually.”

One of the highlights of Sisterhood each year is the Big Sister/Little Sister program. Upperclassmen are assigned an underclassman to be their “little,” and they spend the night bonding. The bond between big/little is unbreakable and is one of the best traditions BBYO has to offer.

With over 60 Alephs attending the convention, the Moreh portion, or formerly known as Brotherhood, was big this year. Programming this year focused on a more serious aspect of fraternity, and education. Alephs learned about the Seven Cardinal Principles, what fraternity means to them, and more importantly, about each other. The day began with icebreakers, and later a “Lil’ Bro, Big Bro” program aiming to bond young and old members. Later that evening, Alephs were joined in meaningful programing about their experience, and passion, within BBYO.

On Saturday afternoon, BBGs were bussed from the JCC to JCC Camps at Medford to combine with the Alephs for “Sh’lichim Convention,” coordinated by regional Sh’lichim Jared Gans and Danielle Lev. The “Sh’lichim Convention” was formerly known as “Kallah,” which was all about finding our Jewish identity. This year, the name was changed in order to gain the ability to incorporate more community service.

Sh’lichim Convention Committee member Owen Soler said, “I had an amazing time seeing all of our hard work come to fruition. I know everybody had an amazing weekend, and I loved working with everyone on committee.”

One program that really stood out to many members was “Jewish Netflix.” Participants were split into groups and were instructed to make a skit based off of a genre and Jewish holiday they were given. Everyone had a good laugh participating in this program and it was a great way to incorporate Judaism in an entertaining way.

On Sunday morning, the community service portion of convention was executed. There were three service projects set up around the room with the intention of SJR giving back to the community. One project was making dog toys for shelters, another was making jars filled with soup ingredients, and the last was decorating and filling pencil cases for students who may not be able to afford them otherwise. It was really great to see all of our members so excited to give back to the community.

WinterCon as a whole was an amazing weekend for everyone in attendance. It engaged everyone from the youngest eighth grader to the oldest senior.

After convention, we caught up with some younger members to see how they felt about their first regional convention.

Eighth grader Matt Barr said, “WinterCon was a great experience for my first regional convention and I’m excited to go to more conventions in the future.”

Eighth grade BBG, Evelin Cloth said, “WinterCon was super fun and a great way to learn to believe in yourself and work with others.”

It seems as though WinterCon was a HUGE success thanks to the coordinators: Zoe Arking, Brett Eisenberg, Danielle Lev, and Jared Gans, along with all three planning committees. SJR can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next half of the year! 

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