By April Basler / firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlanta’s streak of representation on BBYO’s international board was in jeopardy at the International Convention over Presidents’ Day weekend because no local teen was even running.
(Photo by Jason Dixson Photography)
The newly elected BBYO mazkirim are Matt Rabinowitz and Atlanta Council’s Meredith Galanti.
Then the Atlanta Council B’nai B’rith Girls president, Amanda Abes, nominated 17-year-old Meredith Galanti of Sandy Springs for BBG international mazkirah (secretary) from the floor of the convention at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. And the streak continued.
Meredith, a junior at the Weber School and a member of Congregation Or VeShalom, was elected with little time to prepare for the election and with no experience as a mazkirah for her chapter and or the Atlanta Council BBG. She was given only one minute to speak to the voting delegates about her qualifications.
David Hoffman, the BBYO director at the Marcus Jewish Community Center, said the two candidates nominated in advance got to make widely distributed two-minute videos about themselves and their platforms and could speak to the convention about anything they liked for up to five minutes.
“Winning an election with the limited resources she had compared to her competition, especially since she hadn’t held the position of mazkirah on the chapter or council level, demonstrates the esteemed status she had already made for herself on the international level, the faith the voting body placed in her to be able to succeed in any task she undertakes, and the tangible success she has achieved in her 2½ years as a leader in Atlanta Council BBYO,” Hoffman said.
The daughter of Charlene and Irwin Galanti is a legacy BBYO member. Her father and several cousins were in BBYO in Atlanta, and her aunt was the Atlanta Council president.
Now she’s carrying on a legacy of Atlanta leadership on the international level. Her win marks the fourth consecutive year of an Atlantan on BBYO’s international board.
“It’s very rare. It speaks volumes of our community here and how strong of a Jewish community we have here in Atlanta,” Meredith said. “It shows the whole world that essential feeling that we have by being a part of the Atlanta Jewish community and the strength and support we have here. It shows the impact we want to make, not just in Atlanta, but throughout America and around the world.”
Meredith, a member of BBG chapter Lehavah, No. 2527, previously held the chapter and council position of gizborit (treasurer), which falls under the auspices of the international mazkirah.
“I ran for international mazkirah because I wanted to have the opportunity to work on the international scale for a position that I love doing. I’ll get to work with teens from 20 different countries and with over 50 girls from the United States as well,” she said. “There’s so many opportunities that will come from it.”
Her position is responsible for all BBYO communications and fundraising and for coordinating the international leadership training conference, a BBYO summer program.
“I’m excited to work with all my American counterparts as well as the international teens to grow our communications and fundraising strategies and efforts,” Meredith said. “I’m also excited to connect with Jewish teens from different communities, especially with all the rise in violence and anti-Semitism across the nation. It’s the time to act on this. The theme of International Convention this year was stronger together, and I feel that this is the year to do that.”
Meredith was pleased with how IC turned out, especially with the number of Atlanta teens who attended.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Meredith said. “We had over 210 Atlanta teens, which doubles our number from last year at IC. It was so great welcoming everyone.”
At the start of IC, Meredith was involved in the Coalition of Jewish Teens, which brought together members of the five major Jewish youth movements for a 24-hour meeting to strategize ways that Jewish teens around the world can work together to build a stronger, united Jewish community. Meredith said she thinks the CJT was extremely successful.
“Oftentimes if we’re in different youth groups, we don’t get to interact as much, but coming together in this group we realized that we all have the same goals and ideas, and we even wrote a mission statement together and created a Facebook group,” Meredith said. “We all have the same purpose of getting more Jewish teens involved and helping grow the Jewish community. It’s great now that we broke down the barriers that were between each group before, and now we’re working together. We can only be so much stronger that way.”
Hoffman expects great things from Meredith as international mazkirah.
“I have been working very closely with teens around the world for the past eight years and am very aware that Meredith is among the best we have to offer as an example of Jewish teen leadership and hope for the Jewish future,” Hoffman said. “All of Atlanta Council BBYO is honored to have her representing us on the international level for the next year, and I am personally very excited to see all that she will accomplish.”
Meredith, although uncertain of what life will hold after high school, said that being involved in BBYO has shaped her Jewish identity and prepared her for the future with leadership skills and friendships.
“Once you graduate high school, it doesn’t end here. It’s not like a class in Hebrew school. The networking, friendships and ideas and the way that you’ve developed your own Jewish identity continues to grow from high school and onward,” Meredith said. “There are also so many opportunities to be involved later on too. It allows everyone to have their own individual connection and find what interests them in the Jewish community and be able to carry that out throughout the rest of their lives.”