Are you looking for a great organization for your Jewish teen where they will have fun, make new friends and have some leadership opportunities?
BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish youth movement, offering teens the ‘goods’ that school and other extra-curricular activities often don’t: the opportunity to stand up for things they believe in, lead initiatives, build confidence and character, make an impact and form authentic relationships with their Jewish peers. These relationships and experiences are proven to benefit a young person long after high school ends.
Founded in 1924, BBYO counts 30 countries around the world with BBYO programming, 600 chapters of the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA, high school fraternity) and the B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG, high school sorority) and 45,000 involved teens!
On Long Island, more than 1,500 teens are proud to be involved in the BBYO Nassau Suffolk Region (NSR). One of those leaders is Sofi, a junior and proud member of the B’nai B’rith Girls.
Mitzvah Market spoke with Sofi to learn more:
MM: How did you get involved in BBYO?
Sofi: I got involved in BBYO when an older girl in my school reached out to me.
Sofi and her friend Hannah, who is president of the girls Commack chapter at International Convention
MM: What chapter are you in and what type of activities does your chapter participate in?
Sofi: I am in Summit BBG #2299, the chapter for Plainview girls. We meet around twice a month and have different types of programs each time! BBYO is teen-led and staff supported. We’re able to set the agenda and plan our programs. Together my sisters and I explore our Jewish heritage, have fun events like dances or sports and work together on meaningful community service. Whatever we do, we always have fun!
MM: Do you get together with other teens outside of your chapter?
Sofi: Yes! We get together with other BBG chapters, or the brother AZA chapters, too. Also, as a region, the BBGs and Alephs from all across Long Island will have shared programs and regional events throughout the year. I’m always with the amazing friends I have made outside of BBYO events, too.
MM: How has BBYO changed your High School years?
Sofi: BBYO changed my High School experience because I have learned valuable leadership skills as well as broadened my social skills by continuously meeting new people. I have met so many friends because of BBYO.
MM: What does it mean that BBYO is a teen led organization?
Sofi: BBYO is teen led because we have to ability to decide what we do! By being on Chapter Board, Regional Board, being a chair for a board committee, or just being an active member you have the ability to focus on what you think is most fun, interesting, and important and help plan for your peers.
MM: What’s the most fun you have had as a BBG?
Sofi: The most fun I have had is with my chapter doing Spirit! Each chapter has their own mascot and colors that they go crazy dressing in. Everyone competes with the cheers they have made to show their pride in their chapter. Recently Summit BBG won the Spirit Bear, the award all NSR BBGs want to win, at our weekend convention.
MM: Do you get involved in community service?
Sofi: Yes, each chapter holds their own community service events as a part of BBYO Stand UP. We focus on issues like hunger, needs of those in our community and support for Israel and global causes. Each spring, NSR comes together for a full day project during J-Serve, the international day of Jewish youth service, dedicated to community service.
The Sababa Chapter of Hewlett Making Hanukkah cards for Lone Soldiers of IDF in Israel
MM: Has being in BBYO changed the way you see yourself as a Jewish person?
Sofi: Yes, I have participated in many amazing programs and partnerships through BBYO. Meeting Jewish teens from around the world, learning more about Israel and how to show my support for our homeland, has made me value our heritage more and realize that my voice, as a Jewish leader, truly does matter.
MM: How would you explain BBYO to a teen who may be interested?
Sofi: BBYO is like sorority and fraternity life in high school! Once you join your chapter, the other teens instantly become your best friends. The whole experience is fun and life changing and can be what you make it. BBYO also helps you feel a part of something larger than yourself.
MM: How do other kids get involved and find out more?
Sofi: Learn more about BBYO (bbyo.org) and what’s happening locally (bbyo.org/region/nsr). To speak with a BBYO Professional, call 516-433-2296 or email NSR@bbyo.org.
We thank Sofi for sharing her BBYO experience with our readers.