My BBYO Story: Luke Shooter, National Vice President 2020-2021


Joining BBYO was the best decisions I’ve ever made. Like many of us, I started going because I was dragged along by family members. I was 14, in year 9 and incredibly nervous walking into a room of people of varying ages who I didn’t know - who all seemed to know each other.

Luckily, I started returning to these weekly Sunday night chapter meetings and I soon discovered that BBYO was a particularly special place where you can be free to be yourself.

National Executive Board 2020-2021. From left to right: Naomi Gershlick, Ethan Katz, Luke Shooter, Amie Shooter, Josh Heimann, Arianna Sultan

I’ve made many lifelong friends from chapter meetings and in particular from events like Shorashim, our summer camp.

On top of that though, arguably the most important feature of BBYO is the emphasis on teen leadership. I spent year 11 as the Deganya chapter Vice President which was such an exciting and important experience for me and the others, and I’m currently the national Vice President of BBYO UK and Ireland.

We have proper democratic elections and campaigning to determine our leadership. While there are of course adults in the BBYO office, having virtually just teens at events, leading and taking part, makes a much friendlier atmosphere without a ‘teacher’ dynamic and where it’s easier to be yourself.

And teen leadership isn’t just limited to the exec members - everyone comes away from BBYO with skills that will stay with them forever.

In my case, I know I wouldn’t be nearly as confident, socially comfortable, good at public speaking, good at teamwork, effective at leading people and being creative with ideas if it weren’t for BBYO.

All of our alumni, from actresses to politicians to photographers to lawyers will testify that BBYO has been crucial to their success and who they are as people.

BBYO is proudly Jewish, Zionist and pluralist and there’s total freedom and security to practice and express your Judaism however you want. At our core we just want to focus on celebrating our Jewish identity and this adds so much value to our events and programmes.

Of course, in 2020/21 it’s been a while since our last in-person chapter meeting. Nonetheless, for almost a year now, we’ve been running socially distanced and online programming and events, and we’ve collectively become experts at delivering an amazing virtual atmosphere, with innovative fun activities, lots of laughs and often some good lessons learned along the way.

It’s been tricky at times but we’re still making great memories, and now is a really excellent time for more members to join us. It doesn’t matter if you know nobody or everybody, our members work really hard to make sure everyone feels at home and like a real part of our movement.

There’s so much more I could say, I could quite easily talk more about our camps, traditions or our incredible international connections and events. Words can only get me so far, and it’s difficult to explain how and why BBYO is so special - so I think you should come along and find out.

Even if you need a lot of encouragement to come along (like I did), there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose from trying BBYO out; contact us to be put in touch with your local teen leader to find out more.

Thanks for reading - and feel free to share with anyone and everyone! 😄