Teens gather to enjoy interfaith Shabbat

Pictured above: The full group of participants at the Global Shabbat held Dec. 7.

Lighting the Chanukiah (menorah) with a BBYO teen (Mimi Yonover), a teen from the Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ (Sophia Tellez) & and teen from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Charlie Liddle). Photo courtesy of ADL Arizona

On Dec. 7, BBYO celebrated the 2018 Global Shabbat with an unprecedented interfaith Shabbat dinner, inviting teen youth groups of many faiths to come together in peace to build community. BBYO partnered with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Board of Greater Phoenix. The event’s theme was “Let There Be Light” and the event was held at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center . More than 100 teens representing seven different faiths joined with BBYO to help shine a light on the beauty of so many young people celebrating similarities rather than focusing on differences, all while bringing multiple communities together as one.

Included as part of the evening was a panel discussion featuring religious leaders representing all faiths of the teens represented at the dinner. The following religious leaders joined the panel to help share the beauty of faith in all its forms within a teen led panel discussion:

  • Rabbi Micah Caplan – Congregation Or Tzion
  • Azra Hussain – Islamic Speaker’s Bureau
  • James Whitaker – Franciscan Renewal Center
  • Dr. Farshad Fani Marvasti – The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of Scottsdale
  • Dr. Russell Taylor – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Dennis Hubert – Unity of Mesa
  • Rev. Carol Reynolds – Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ

    Panelists (listed above), Teen Hosts (Ethan Weisman & Sylvie Harris) & BBYO Senior Regional Director (Barrie McAlister)

Arizona Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Carlos Galindo-Elvira, also addressed the teens and implored them to continue the evening’s dialogue and to speak up when they see that somebody is being bullied or treated unfairly because of who they are.

In reflecting on the evening’s program, local Mountain Region BBYO Aleph Zadik Aleph Teen President, Ryan Marmis, shared:

“We discussed how our faith played into each of our lives and how we can begin to end the violence and hatred being drawn between members of other faiths. At the end of the evening, we concluded that our faiths are rooted in one thing: Love.”

Sophia Tellez, a teen with the delegation from the Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ wrote, “I really liked the common theme which was ‘light’. I interpreted it as God is the light and, as his children, we are to spread his message which is so powerful that if one of us speaks up it will create a spark and eventually a fire.”

“Working with the religious leaders and youth directors from the different religious groups was such an inspiring and positive experience. Seeing all our teens come together to build an interfaith network that opens discussion and understanding across so many faiths was incredible. This is such an important dialogue for these young people who are already becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Global Shabbat is just the beginning of an exceptional program year in Mountain Region, and we are thrilled to be moving into 2019 with such amazing energy and potential for growth,” says Barrie McAlister, senior regional director for Mountain Region BBYO.

BBYO welcomes all Jewish teens in grades 8 through 12 in/around Phoenix. For more information about Mountain Region BBYO, contact Aaron Wiener, Associate Regional Director, at awiener@bbyo.org or 480-481-1789.


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