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Jewish teen movement celebrates centennial

“BBYO’s centennial celebration is more than just a milestone; it’s a testament to the enduring strength of community, resilience and the limitless potential of youth,” said Matt Grossman, its CEO.

Thousands of Jews attended BBYO's International Convention in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 15-19, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of BBYO.
Thousands of Jews attended BBYO's International Convention in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 15-19, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of BBYO.

As the Jewish teen movement BBYO celebrates its 100th anniversary on Friday, it marks more than just a milestone, according to its CEO Matt Grossman.

“It’s a testament to the enduring strength of community, resilience and the limitless potential of youth,” Grossman stated. “As we honor the legacy of the past and embrace the challenges of the future, we renew the commitment made 100 years ago to a mission more vital today than ever before—to create a world where every Jewish teen is empowered to lead, inspire and make a difference.”

A group of you men formed what was then called B’nai B’rith Youth Organization on May 3, 1924 in Omaha, Neb. The movement, per BBYO, went on to “shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jewish teens for the next century.”

The movement is calling its centennial “Forever young.”

“BBYO is a place where Jewish teens form their fondest memories, develop leadership skills, establish lifelong friendships, advocate for causes they care about and find meaning in their Jewish heritage,” BBYO added.

The movement started as the Aleph Zadik Aleph, a group for young men, in 1924. Two decades later, B’nai B’rith Girls became part of the movement. In 2001, BBYO separated from its parent body, B’nai B’rith Organization, and became a stand-alone nonprofit, headquartered in Washington.

To celebrate its 100th birthday, BBYO has planned a year of programming, including “large-scale” events in 10 cities, alumni reunions worldwide, a new alumni association and a convention in February—the “largest gathering in the world for young Jewish leaders,” it said.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire investor, philanthropist and former owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is an alumnus of Aleph Zadik Aleph.

“That’s the beauty of BBYO—if one of us falls, we all fall,” Cuban stated. “BBYO is right there to pick us up. That’s the way it was when I was a kid. That’s the way it is now.”

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