HBHA Senior Julia Paul Inspires Fellow Students While Organizing BBYO International Convention

HBHA+Senior+Julia+Paul+Inspires+Fellow+Students+While+Organizing+BBYO+International+Convention

Abby Kreisler

Slider photo courtesy of Julia Paul.

One youth group, five months of preparation, one international convention, one international board, and one week:

Julia Paul, a Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) senior, won the elections for the position of vice president, S’ganit, for the 2017-2018 international board of BBYO Inc. BBYO started almost 100 years ago and is the world’s leading pluralistic, Jewish, teen led youth group that values inclusivity, Jewish identity, active leadership, and tradition. BBYO is split into a brotherhood (AZA, Aleph Tzadik Aleph) and a sisterhood (BBG, B’nai B’rith Girls), but they come together for conventions, as well as a selection of programs.

BBYO has several regional conventions throughout the year, but the International Convention (IC) is the largest and the only world-wide BBYO convention. Over the summer, members are introduced to new friends through BBYO summer program,s and the IC is the time to meet up with old friends and make new ones. This year, IC was held in Orlando, Florida and attendees heard from an array of speakers such as Aly Raisman, Josh Peck, and Scott Rogowsky, as well as musical performances from AJR, Daya, Fetty Wap, and Steve Aoki.

Starting back in September, preparations for IC began. Paul, along with her male AZA counterpart, led a group of about 300 teens involved in BBYO. They worked tirelessly from September 2017 up until February 2018, when the convention took place. The two were in charge of their first level of leadership, as well as subcommittees who worked planning various parts of the convention.

As International S’ganit, Paul spoke in front of the entire convention. Photo courtesy of Julia Paul.

Ilexa Axelrod, the Kansas City BBG president at the time, attended IC. “Jules is my inspiration. Not only does she humbly lead, standing confidently in front of 5000 Jewish teens, parents, and community leaders, but she also is a great friend. Leading up to IC, she worked so incredibly diligently. Her tenacity was not even comparable to anyone I have ever witnessed. She leads humbly with the sole purpose of giving others an amazing experience.”

BBYO has impacted Paul’s school life in many ways and created an opportunity to build more time management skills. Not only did she balance her obligations in BBYO, she also managed her personal and school life. “My teachers are really supportive of what I do outside of school.” Balancing soccer, being a yearbook section editor, college preparations, guitar, and AP classes, among many other things, is not easy, but Paul conquers it head on.

BBYO has been a life changing experience for Paul. “It has really made my high school career what it is. I really can’t imagine going through high school without it. I think it’s connected me more to my Judaism than anything else and it’s really awesome to have Jewish friends around the world.” This is one of the most powerful and unique experiences. BBYO has given her opportunities to experience things like “being able to lead a national convention, what other teen gets to do that?”

At IC, Paul was surrounded by Jewish teens from around the world. Photo courtesy of Julia Paul. 

Paul has not only been impacted by BBYO, but she has influenced other members. Bree Katz, a Freshman in Benot Lev BBG #2430, who holds the position of chapter vice president, said that Paul has inspired her to make an impact in BBYO after seeing the number of people who benefitted from her work.  

“Even though she doesn’t acknowledge it, she really is such an amazing, inspiring, and hardworking person and it blows my mind how she managed her time and stress this past year.” said Katz. Paul has impacted thousands of Jewish teens, while balancing school and still being humble.

Oops! We stand corrected. The original version of this article referred to BBYO as Bnai Brith Youth Organization. Bnai Brith Youth Organization no longer exists so BBYO is just known as BBYO Inc. We apologize for the oversight, and the article has been corrected. -The editors.