July 16, 2024
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Bnei Akiva Trains Next Generation of Leaders At KMCB Leadership Conference

(Courtesy of Bnei Akiva) A few dozen teenagers converged in a busy Atlanta airport this March. Coming from diverse cities including Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York, they shared a common destination: Bnei Akiva’s Kenes Manhigei Chevraya Bet (KMCB) Conference.

The national high school leadership conference, which takes place each year, focuses on training the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. The Shabbaton hosts top leaders from each Bnei Akiva galil (city) for a weekend of training, giving them lifelong leadership tools.

Once they assembled, this year’s group headed to the site of the conference, Camp Ramah Darom, which is in the mountains of Georgia. The KMCB conference is Bnei Akiva’s main leadership conference, preparing teens for leadership positions in their respective communities for the year ahead, as well as for leadership positions in Bnei Akiva’s Moshava summer camps.

For Vered Goodman, a junior from Englewood, New Jersey the experience was transformative. “Learning, camaraderie and spirituality intertwined to create a powerful catalyst for personal and communal growth,” she said. “As future role models, it’s crucial for us to embody the values and principles of Bnei Akiva, inspiring others to follow in our footsteps.”

The young learners attended sessions on everything from time management to leadership to team building. In a public speaking workshop, participants learned the art of captivating an audience through persuasive communication. They were led by a knowledgeable tzevet (team) made up of Bnei Akiva’s Executive Director Rav Shaul Feldman; Chief Growth Officer Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg; National Programming Director/Mazkir Eli Seidman; Operations Director James Williams; and Educational Director Rav Avishai Berman; as well as a number of college-age bogrim.

The quality of the lessons made an impression on Jonathan Farkas, an attendee from New Rochelle, New York. “The sessions were not just theoretical — they taught practical tools to equip the future Bnei Akiva leaders with the skills needed to enact positive change within their communities,” he said. “I’m inspired to carry the lessons forward in my journey as a Bnei Akiva leader.”

Inspiration is at the heart of the conference, instilling its young participants with a sense of community and responsibility while giving them the skills to succeed in growing the movement committed to the principles of Torah v’avodah, and guiding them to become Jewish and Zionist leaders both within the movement and beyond.

Rav Weinberg shared that it was fantastic seeing the group embrace their unique talents and passion for Israel as a means to get other people excited about the movement.

“If it’s something that we’re passionate about, then we need to be able to move the needle in how we inspire others,” he said. “It isn’t just about you or me — it’s about what we can do as a people and as a community of individuals who love Israel and the Jewish people.”

In addition to spending time building a foundation of leadership skills, there was also much time spent on spiritual matters. Ravs Feldman and Weinberg led a session on the parsha, and reflections on Purim deepened the participants’ understanding of the holiday and their heritage. Both before, after, and during Shabbat, there were plenty of opportunities for fun and bonding. This included a fireside kumzits, and the grounds allowed for outdoor movement and exploration including wall climbing, hiking, a basketball game, and a campus-wide scavenger hunt. The participants found they had much to learn from one another, developing friendships and sharing reflections on Jewish life in their respective parts of the U.S. and Canada.

Now that the participants are back home, they are ready to put their learning into action. As Vered Goodman shared, “We carry with us the lessons learned and the connections forged. We are ready to serve as influential role models to the future youth of the Jewish nation.”

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