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BBYO is a worldwide youth-led organization for high-school age Jewish teens. It is separated into Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA), the young men's order, and B'nai B'rith Girls(BBG), the women's order. There are also "BBYO Chapters" which are co-educational, though these are usually in smaller communities. Considered a high school fraternity, the mission of both groups as a whole is to provide Jewish youth opportunities to form leadership skills and to commit to their own personal development.


[edit] History

BBYO, formerly the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, originated in 1923 as a men's high school fraternity in Omaha, Nebraska, though it was actually not affiliated with B'nai B'rith until April 1925. It began as a protest against the local Greek high school fraternity, Alpha Zeta Alpha, which did not allow Jews to become members. The boys who organized it began their own high school fraternity and decided to name it Aleph Zadik Aleph, or AZA, the Hebrew letter equivalent. In April 1925, AZA was adopted by B'nai B'rith at the B'nai B'rith National Convention.

An alternate history found in Dealing in Futures by Max Baer describes a schism between the founders of the AZA and members of the local Zionist youth group. The AZA founders split from the group and formed their own with the Greek-letter college fraternities in mind. When Nathan Mnookin, the first advisor, left, Sam Beber took over and chartered the Aleph Zadik Aleph on May 4, 1924, with the early vision of an international youth movement. The first International Convention of the Aleph Zadik Aleph was held July 4-6 of that year.

In 1944, B'nai B'rith Girls became recognized by B'nai B'rith, and BBYO as it is today was born. Anita Perlman is credited with the development of BBG as Sam Beber is credited with the AZA. BBYO as it is today was born. In 2002, BBYO changed its name to BBYO Inc., becoming a legally independent organization in the process. Lynn Schusterman now leads the organization's Board of Directors. The Aleph Zadik Aleph is currently celebrating its 90th year of operation, and the B'nai B'rith Girls its 70th year.

[edit] Regions/Councils

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[edit] AZA vs. BBG

While other Jewish youth groups have often criticized BBYO for its gender-segregated nature, many BBYO members actually view this characteristic as one of its greatest strengths. Fraternity and brotherhood is emphasized in AZA, just as sisterhood is in BBG, and the single-gender environment often allows richer conversation and brotherly or sisterly interaction. Though meetings of the two groups are usually separate, AZA and BBG chapters frequently interact and often hold events together. Chapters typically refer to their alternate city chapter as being their sister or brother chapter. This is not to say that mixed-gender chapters do not exist; in some cities, particularly where the Jewish population is very small, some chapters of both sexes exist, called "BBYO Chapters", though interaction is typically quite different at the chapter level. BBYO chapters may grow big enough to split into an AZA and a BBG chapter, but that decision is left up to the individual chapter.

[edit] Regional Website links

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