Not Just Odessa Mamas but Odessa Teenagers

One of the things I love about my work is getting to sit down with new people and hearing their Jewish stories and connections to the Jewish world and their communities. This week I got to sit down with a 16 year-old from Odessa named Amalia. Amalia is from Odessa, Ukraine who speaks perfect English and will be joining me and a few other teenagers from Ukraine at BBYO’s International Convention in Dallas, Texas in February.

I met Amalia on Sunday, at Beit Grand, the JCC in Odessa for a program led by a few participants of Metsuda (a Ukraine-wide young adult leadership program). The program was for the active teenagers at Beit Grand and was based on how people spend their time. Each of the 17 participants estimated how many hours they spend doing different activities per week (school, sleep, hanging out with friends, on the computer, etc.) and the average total of hours was almost twice that of amount of hours actually in a week. We discussed how it is possible for us to use our time so that we can maximize our life priorities.

I returned to Beit Grand on Tuesday to meet with Amalia to discuss going to International Convention. I walked into the youth room and it was full of teenagers playing board games with one another. I was stupefied. Most of these teenagers were just here two days before for another program and here they are again.

Amalia explained that on Sundays the teenagers come for a discussion program, on Tuesdays they come back for board games night and on Fridays they come for Shabbat. Upwards of 20 teenagers are meeting at Beit Grand three times a week for teen based programs. Ask any Jewish youth group leaders of any Jewish organization in North America, I think they would agree that this is one of the most successful teen programs.

 They have teen madrichim that plan a good portion of the programs and the one local Shabbaton per year. Beit Grand is not just a meeting place for them but also a Jewish home for them.


This year, we are trying to connect Jewish teen clubs, like the one in Odessa, throughout Ukraine to each other through seminars and retreats and to BBYO international. Every week, I will be showcasing a different community and their teen club. Help us strengthen the Jewish world by connecting Jewish teens to one another. Learn more by clicking on the following link.



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