Mission: BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement in North America aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. For more than 80 years, AZA and BBG (boys and girls chapters respectively) in communities around the world have been providing exceptional leadership programs and Jewish identity enrichment, shaping the lives of 250,000 alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academia, the arts and Jewish communal life. Now, more than ever, BBYO offers innovative opportunities for teens to connect with one another, serve their communities, navigate the college admissions process and travel the world, providing each participant with a network of lifelong friends, a perspective which adds value and meaning to life and a shared commitment toward strengthening the Jewish future.
Programs: Inspired by our past and motivated by the needs of the future, BBYO is committed to reaching Jewish teens in unprecedented numbers. This commitment comes at a critical point, as the Jewish community is struggling to connect young people to their heritage and history. Fewer and fewer Jewish teens are engaging in Jewish life following their b'nai mitzvot, and one study shows that by the time Jewish teens reach their senior year of high school, less than 30% are involved in any formal or informal Jewish experiences. As a teen-led, pluralistic organization, BBYO is uniquely positioned to reverse this trend and to ensure a more secure Jewish future by using new approaches and emerging technologies to capture the Jewish teen market in ways that were once unimaginable.
Key to the organization's success has been a highly effective leadership model operating on the local, national and international levels through a fraternity/sorority-based chapter structure. Formerly affiliated with B'nai B'rith, in 2002, BBYO was restructured as an independent international organization. While still capitalizing upon its leadership development programs, this move to independence affords BBYO the opportunity to forge a new direction and adopt a much more expansive and transformational approach to engaging Jewish teens.
BBYO now offers a broad array of social, political, spiritual and cultural opportunities. Jewish teens are encouraged to create and lead their own communities through local chapters and BBYO's unique online network - www.b-linked.org. Once connected, they have access to a variety of resources to help them through the college admissions process, take part in community service projects, travel to Israel and around the world and communicate with their peers.
I was a member of the Big Apple Region from 2002 through 2006. In that time, I gained the most comprehensive leadership experience I could possibly have gotten. In addition to be selected to the Young Leadership Institute as a freshman, I was my chapter's Shomerit Habrit (Sunshine Girl), N'siah and Regional Mazkirah. Perhaps the experience that I reflect most upon in the years since I was involved in BBYO was my participation as a delegate to the 2006 March of the Living. I am confident that I would never have had the experience of going to Poland and seeing the horrors and destruction of the Holocaust and then immediately after being able to go to Israel, to see the Jewish homeland and how the Jewish people have risen from the ashes to remain a united people.
My son started BBYO in 2008 at the beginning of his 9th grade year. He experienced a tough year starting high school....the pressure, the AP classes, a new school, girlfriend issues, you name it...he went through it! BBYO was the touchstone that brought him through this very difficult year. He is now fully active and is an officer of his chapter (Hurricane's in Miami) and is striving to take a position as a regional officer and attending IC 2010 as well. He is fully invested in BBYO, as my husband was many years ago. It has played a large part of getting him through some very trying times and we, as parents, feel so thankful for this program.
While growing up in Atlanta in the 70s, BBYO was my social outlet. We all spent every Sunday at the JCC with our BBYO friends hanging out. Everyone went to different schools but came together through BBYO. Many of the friendships I made then are still important to me today.
It's pretty hard to to describe a bbyo experience in just a paragraph. Well to start, BBYO has truly changed my life. It has helped me to develop leadership skills I wouldnt have if i wasnt involved in bbyo. It has led me to meet so many amazing people, many my best friends. I have been able to make a difference in peoples lives and in the world. It has truly made me a better person. I have further discovered my jewish identity. BBYO has given me a place where i can be myself, where i can connect with other jews, where i can feel empowered.