On 4/20/13, I spoke at the spring convention of the Connecticut Valley Region of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO).
I used to do this all the time…but not as an author. I was an avid member of CVR BBYO during high school, and at almost every event took to the stage as either a leader or a performer (term used loosely).
So it was an immense honor—and more than a little sentimental—to return to a convention and to speak there. Teens are taller now than when I was one.
In my hourlong presentation I talked about my career, but what felt most special was giving them a glimpse of my formative time in BBYO. Though they’d never heard of me as an author, they were keen to hear the experiences of one of their own; the organization fosters such a fervent bond among young people that anyone who has gone through it is of immediate interest to anyone currently in it.
I started my mini-retrospective by mentioning the five guys who were my best friends back then and I showed the first known photo taken of the six of us:
Kevin, me, Seth (blue shirt with red tartan), Matt (in hat), Darren (with bracelets), Mike;
yes, we were standing in a camp cabin shower
We were called the Ruach 6—“Ruach” was the name of our chapter (in Hebrew it means “spirit”). I cycled through other BBYO moments that had an impact on me. I concluded by re-showing that first group photo…then revealing that those five guys I was best friends with in 1988 are still my best friends today:
Darren, Matt, Seth, Kevin, me, Mike
The room rippled with the warmth of human connection and jittery excitement for the future.
The kids stopped to digest the possibility that they were in the presence of friends for life.
But I’m sure many of them already knew that.
selfie before my talk