Friday, January 29, 2016

How This Jewish Teen Invited Bernie Sanders to BBYO International Convention

Sometimes if you just look like you are supposed to be somewhere, no one will ask any questions. That was the case for me earlier this month when I heard Kevin Spacey speak at the AT&T Developer Summit at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. About a half hour after the conclusion of his speech I casually walked to a service elevator behind the stage and found myself riding a few floors in an elevator with Kevin Spacey after he had made an elevator metaphor in his speech. I suppose it's fair to say this will be the only time in my life I'll share an elevator ride with a sitting American president!

House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey delivers the keynote address at the 2016 AT&T Developer Summit

I thought of my Kevin Spacey experience the other day when I read about seventeen-year-old Louis Shenker. The Jewish teen from Massachusetts managed to sneak into the Democratic debate Charleston, South Carolina. Not only did Shenker sit in Bill Clinton's assigned seat at the debate and get on live television shmoozing with Hillary Clinton, but he also invited Bernie Sanders to come to the upcoming BBYO International Convention and serve as a keynote speaker.

In an interview with, Shenker acknowledged that he wasn't "qualified to [invite the candidate to speak at the convention], but I figured if they said 'yes' I would bring it to the attention of someone who was."

In a blog post, Shenker explained how he not only got past the entrance of the presidential debate without a ticket and gained VIP access into the debate. He writes, "One particular staffer asked if I was Martin O’Malley’s son and I said yes. He went and told some of the other staff that I was the former Governor’s son and I gained recognition based on my [unique and very loud] jacket."

Louis Shenker, a Jewish teen from Massachusetts, at the Democratic presidential debate

"I then continued to Hillary Clinton and introduced myself. I told her that she debated very well and that I wished her the best of luck and shook her hand. She said that it was a pleasure meeting me and commented that she thought I was dressed very sharp. It was at this point that the debate came back from commercial and there I was front and center on national television shaking hands with Hillary."

Of course Shenker didn't even realize he achieved his 15 seconds of fame until his cellphone began ringing with friends and family watching him live on television. His ability to sneak into the debate and then gain access backstage certainly means the Secret Service missed something, but it also goes to show that sometimes if you just look like you are supposed to be somewhere, no one will ask any questions. Whether Bernie Sanders actually shows up at BBYO Internation Convention in Baltimore in a couple weeks remains to be seen. If he does, I think Shenker will become the most popular Jewish teen in BBYO.

No comments: