Archive for December, 2006

A Christmas Zamir

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Jewish ghosts get no respect. Not like the Ghosts of Christmas past present and future – they do great business this time of year. We maybe catch a movie and eat Chinese.

Though for us this week is little more than a break from work or school, it’s nice to slow down and reflect – especially if you’re one of the many who doesn’t really observe Shabbat. So I took a moment and looked up some fellow ghosts, and given they had little else to do, they were glad to forward some messages:



Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Have you ever seen this happen? A member spends a lot of time planning an event, and then is disappointed because of poor turnout. There are two main reasons why turnout to an event might be poor. It might be bad timing – a holiday during which many members are out of town, or an evening where a major community event (like a prom) is going on. It might also be bad promotion – an event planner can do a great deal to promote strong attendance at an event by talking about it beforehand and even calling people to ask them to attend.


Happy Chanukah

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Before you head off to parties, driedels, gifts and gelt, allow me to extend to you all best wishes this Chanukah. And between the fun and celebration, perhaps you might pause to reflect on the words of this song by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame:

Peter Yarrow- ©1983 Silver Dawn Music ASCAP

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn’t die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker’s time is at hand

Don’t let the light go out!
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts


What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they’ve not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!


Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!

On Change

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

People hate change. People love change.

Some people react to any change with fear and doubt – holding on to tradition with fists tight and minds closed. Some people react to change by enthusiastically adopting every new thing just because it’s new, without thought of consequence.

Both views are flawed.

Those who reject change blindly ultimately fail to adapt to the world. Like dinosaurs, their fate is to vanish into fossilized memory.

Those who accept change blindly strew havoc and destruction in their wake, not realizing that their new approach may be inferior to the tried and true.

Change is a partner, one who should be courted and examined thoughtfully before being invited to move in.

Change and BBYO

BBYO is currently facing change. You’ve heard the words:

Engagement – Updated Policies – Dashboard – B-Linked

These all represent significant changes for BBYO. Over the days to come, I will explore all of these in more depth.

But I’m going to give you a preview now.


BBYO Phone Conference

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

(I’m pleased to welcome a new author to ShanesGhost [read more about him on our about page]. Posts by ShanesGhost do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BebersGhost, but that’s ok, because posts by BebersGhost don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of ShanesGhost either. I’d also like to take this opportunity to note the arrival of Max Baer’s Ghost on “The Dead Aleph’s Society“. With so many ghosts, it’s like Halloween every day. Trick or treat…  – BebersGhost)

Last night there was a phone conference between international staff and members of BBYO. I use the term “between” lightly, because it was really just International staff speaking for an hour and twenty minutes while members tried in vain to get their questions past the Grand Aleph Godol’s selection criteria. While I was not privileged enough to sit in on the conference call, I did have a link forwarded to me containing the audio log of the call.

After listening to the mp3 in its entirety, and pondering over it for a good amount of time, the biggest concern I have is that the members, and the staff do not see eye to eye. In the beginning of the call it seemed that the members had one understanding of how these changes would affect their chapter, and the staff had another. But by the end, it seemed as if nothing had changed that, and the conference call had only served to reinforce each side’s arguments. With the plethora of mysterious whispering, and the almost mocking laughter from Ian aside, the conference call seemed to run in circles. Some great questions were answered, but the energy seemed to die off with statements from staff conveying a message that seemed to say “We are not convinced”. So what does it take to convince a member of international staff, and how can you get both sides to see eye to eye?

Well, it is in the inherent nature of all members of BBYO should have slightly different goals than that of staff, but is this the cause such a disagreement? While it was clear that BBYO Inc. is highly concerned with the safety of every member, and the members of BBYO were highly concerned with the hassle and burden of the proposed red tape, is there no grounds for a compromise? I can guarantee that this dispute will only be calmed if both parties gain a level of mutual understanding, and both parties agree to some form of eye-to-eye communication.


Do, or Do Not. There is No Try.

Monday, December 11th, 2006

These words by Yoda are perhaps the most important philosophy in the Star Wars saga, and one uniquely appropriate for BBYO. The history of BBYO shows that teens are able to do far more than anyone ever gives them credit for Рit is no clich̩ to say that they can change the world.

The simple truth is, that most of the time when a member fails to achieve their goals; it is because they give up. Perhaps they stop when they find other members aren’t supporting their efforts as much as they would like. Perhaps they give up because the task seems too hard – they simply lack the confidence in their own ability to make a difference. Perhaps they accept the view of society that a mere “kid” can’t pull off what they have in mind.

The great leaders in BBYO (and elsewhere) are not the smartest, or the most charismatic, or the most popular or even the most skillful. The truly great ones are the stubborn ones – the ones who won’t give up, even when the odds seem against them.

Ultimately, succeeding in a goal is a choice that you make. Like Yoda says – the power to achieve our goals lies within each of us.

But what about impossible goals? What if it truly is too hard? What if the odds really are hopeless?

To answer this question, I encourage you to rent the movie “Man of La Mancha“. It’s the story of Don Quixote, a “knight” who fights hopeless odds and loses and about the fictional author of the story who is also defeated. But their defeats planted the seeds for countless victories. Perhaps (after you watch the film or read the book) even one of yours.

One Voice

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller

It is so easy to remain silent. It is easy to accept small changes. It is easy to justify small nicks in principle, just as our nation has quietly accepted that long time rights such as habeas corpus, or not having conversations monitored without court order do not matter, as long as the person in question is accused of terrorism. It’s easy to say that “they” are good people, so of course what they do is justified.

We are a nation losing the war on terror, because we are terrorized. We are a nation that proclaims freedom even as we dribble away our rights to well meaning government officials in the name of safety. We are a nation that has sent nearly 3000 of our troops to be killed and 22,000 wounded, with virtually no sacrifice by any American not part of the military or a military family.

Ah, I am morose tonight. It happens.

I am but one small voice. And my words but whispers of a spirit; advocate of principles and ideals long held as faith, even if not often fully manifested.

But I am not alone. Other spirits speak as well, and perchance one may speak to you, the reader.

The problem of freedom in America is that of maintaining a competition of ideas, and you do not achieve that by silencing one brand of idea.
Max Lerner

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Louis D. Brandeis

It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.
William O. Douglas  

The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.
William O. Douglas

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton

Liberty of thought means liberty to communicate one’s thought.
Salvador de Madariaga

Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice.
Holbrook Jackson

If the press is not free, if speech is not independent and untrammeled, if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.
William E. Borah

And finally:

In America – as elsewhere – free speech is confined to the dead.
Mark Twain

Good thing I’m a ghost. Good evening Mr. Clemens

Trust: The 8th Cardinal Principle

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Trust. It’s something we hardly ever talk about in BBYO. Yet it impacts every aspect and level of the organization. Think for a moment about all of the places where trust comes into play:

  • Chapters trust their board members to do their jobs
  • Members trust other members to be kind and friendly (fraternal)
  • Chapter leaders trust members to meet their commitments (planning events, doing jobs they commit to)
  • Parents, members and staff trust advisors to keep members safe and to interpret policy wisely (a lot of trust that, when you think about it)
  • Advisors trust the chapter (more on this in a moment), and trust regional staff/international to support them in their work.


Et tu Brute?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Great Ceasars Ghost! Yet another blog has appeared relating to BBYO. The ripples of the Vegas advisors conference continue to spread. Their first post “I’m all right Jack, keep your hands off my stack” addresses the question of chapter bank accounts.

Is Your Chapter/Region a GM or a Toyota?

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Sit down and get comfortable. This is going to take a while. But trust me – it’s going to be worth it.

GM, or General Motors, was the largest car company in the world. They have one car in the top 11 in terms of quality (JD Powers). They lost 10.5 billion dollars last year.

Toyota is the largest car company in the world. They have 7 of the top 11 cars in terms of quality (including Lexus). They made 11.8 billion dollars last year.

Why is this?

  • Are Japanese smarter than Americans? No.
  • Do they work harder? No (many of those Toyotas are made by American workers in Toyota plans here in the U.S.).

So what is it?

One of the major reasons is simple: Management and Corporate culture.

What does this have to do with BBYO? After all, you’re not exactly in the car business, right?

Your chapter, your region and BBYO Inc. are organizations – groups of people who come together in an organized manner for a purpose.

Like any organization, its ability to accomplish that purpose depends on its internal management, organization and culture. The better your management and culture, the more likely your organization will succeed in its goals.

Today I’m going to show you where GM went wrong and where Toyota went right – and exactly how you can apply those lessons to BBYO. Some of what you read here will probably surprise you.