Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
B'nai B'rith Youth Organization
B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) is an 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. Considered a high school fraternity, the mission of both groups as a whole is to provide Jewish youth to form leadership skills and to commit to their own personal development as well.
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 allowed 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.
In 1944, B'nai B'rith Girls became recognized by B'nai B'rith, and BBYO as it is today was born. In 2002, BBYO changed its name to BBYO Inc., becoming a legally independent organization in the process.
BBYO is divided geographically at the Regional, Council and Chapter levels. Each independent region consists of the chapters within that region; from this a Regional Board is elected. Some larger regions opt to have multiple councils within regions. Usually, youth officials are elected at each level: International, Regional, Council(if eligible) and Chapter. All the Regions and Chapters must adhere to the International Constitution, just as all Chapters must adhere to the International Constitution, etc.
The Organization spans 40+ regions in 500+ chapters, roughly 45% BBG, 40% AZA, and 15% BBYO (coed). There are approximately 15,000 members internationally. In addition to the United States, BBYO also exists in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, England, France, Ireland and Israel.
The youth-elected officials have their own set of titles, derived from Hebrew language. In AZA, the men's sect, the president is referred to as Godol , meaning "father"; followed by the S'gan (First Vice-President of Programming), Moreh (Second Vice-President of Membership), Mazkir (Secretary), Gizbor (Treasurer), and Shaliach (Religious chairperson). Other, less ubiquitous positions and chairmanships also exist, (such as Sopher for the newspaper), though it is dependent on the Chapter or Region as to which positions they wish to elect.
In the Women's sect, BBG, there exists usually the N'siah (President, literally "mother"), S'ganit (First Vice-President of Programming), MIT Mom /Aym Ha Chaverot/Morah (Second Vice-President of Membership), Mazkirah (Secretary), and Shalicha (Religious Chair). Much responsibility is given to individual chapters and regions as to which officials they wish to elect.
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.
BBYO chapters typically contain the same basic positions as AZA and BBG chapters, with the gender corresponding with the name of the positison. Some may have double positions, where an AZA and a BBG share the same position. For example, the BBG office of MIT Mom corresponds to Moreh for AZA.
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