Conclave 2020 creates bonds that will last for years


Connecting virtually during Conclave 2020 were (clockwise from top left), Sara Nussbaum, Jacob Nickel, Rachel Rosin, and Makayla Karsch.

Connecting virtually during Conclave 2020 were (clockwise from top left), Sara Nussbaum, Jacob Nickel, Rachel Rosin, and Makayla Karsch.

South Jersey Region (SJR) BBYO held its first virtual convention of the programming year, Conclave! Although physically separated, local teens bonded together on Zoom from November 13-15. With engaging activities ranging from Judaic-centered to brotherhood and sisterhood, SJR teens found many ways to enjoy their programming together, even in separate homes.

Makayla Karsch, junior of Chevrah BBG; Jacob Nickel, junior of Woodcrest AZA; and Rachel Rosin, junior of Neshef BBG, acted as convention coordinators for the Programming, Marketing & Membership, and Shabbat & Rituals committees, respectively. These teen coordinators, along with members of each of the committees, worked for weeks prior to the convention to plan and execute the programs, logistics, and overall experience of Conclave 2020!

The theme for Conclave, “Fall On Your Friends,” brings to light the connections made within SJR, and especially over the weekend. By connecting back to SJR’s roots of Judaism and siblinghood, teens know that they can always lean on or fall on their friends, even if they cannot see each other in person.

Teens could attend a variety of programs, held both by South Jersey Region and by BBYO International. They could see their friends and spend time with the region, and also have the opportunities to bond with the larger BBYO community all around the world through Judaic programming.

The Programming Committee planned and executed daily programs and this year’s “Big/Little Reveal.” At this program, SJR members were paired with another teen from the region, from different grades, that have similar characteristics to them. Makayla “loved helping to plan big/little reveals…that was something I’d never been able to do before or have insight on and it was a lot of fun!” These “bigs” and “littles” give teens the chance to branch out and form a new bond, and these programs strengthen the connections between members throughout the region. SJR teens look forward to their “bigs” and “littles” every year, and are happy to maintain these new friendships over the years.

The Shabbat and Rituals Committee planned Friday night services, Saturday morning services, Havdalah, and Oneg programs for the region. Members chose their own Oneg activity on Saturday night, but the weekend services brought the strong Judaic roots back to all members of the region, who joined services collectively.

The Marketing and Member Experience Committee led icebreaker programs, planned “Bunk Bonding” activities, and worked to promote the convention to the entire region. At a typical in-person convention, SJR teens would make memories with others who were in the same cabin, often creating some favorite memories at every convention! This year, committee members worked to recreate those experiences, through meaningful programs, games, and time to talk to friends, both old and new, outside of typical convention programming.

In addition to enjoying student led programming over the course of the weekend, South Jersey Region welcomed two guest speakers to the convention, who led programs and presented to the region. Teens attending Conclave got to experience Soundscapes with Shalom and hear from Lee Elias on Saturday afternoon.

SJR members have kept their regional bonds close, and continued the traditions in new ways through this pandemic. Teen leaders are looking forward to more events to plan for the rest of the school year.

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