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July 31, 1987 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-31

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helps teens
make friends
and prepare
for Jewish

Mindy Mandell, Cheryl Gofstein, Stefanie Rose, Mariana Lazar and Laurie Jeross ran a Brice BBG fundraising booth in Oak Park.

Kids Of The


Special to The Jewish News


arah Voight was in the eighth
grade when a friend from Sun-
day school invited her to a
B'nai B'rith Girls meeting. Sarah had
no idea what BBG was all about. All
she knew was that her friend's
chapter had a beau, a member of the
B'nai B'rith boys Aleph Zadik Aleph
(AZA), who is elected to be an
honorary member of a BBG chapter.
Sarah is only allowed to date Jewish
boys and there are not many Jews in
Troy where she lives. A beau,
therefore, was good incentive to at-
tend the meeting. Four-and-a-half
years later, Sarah was first vice presi-
dent of BBG's Michigan region.
Sarah's story is not unusual.
Many of the teens in the B'nai B'rith
Youth Organization joined at the sug-
gestion of their parents or because
they had a friend in AZA or BBG.
Members who participate for four
years often become leaders of the
organization. Only 30 percent of the
BBG members, however, are high
school juniors and seniors.
Why do only a minority stay in

Posen AZA members Jason Cooperman, Erik Perlstein and Alex Kaplan.

Mariana Lazar pushed a good cause: BBG

the organization, while so many drop
out toward the end of high school?
They stay because of the oppor-
tunity to meet people. B'nai B'rith
Youth Organization is the largest
Jewish youth group in Michigan. Its
1,000 members in grades eight to 12
come from a wide variety of Jewish

Gary Weisserman, aleph gadol
(president) of the AZA Michigan
region, explains how one can make
friends in all levels of the organiza-
tional structure. "Your normal high
school teenager can say, 'I know
somebody in ninth grade and tenth
grade and 11th and 12th: Then you
get involved in BBYO and they say,
`Well, I know somebody who goes to
Groves, and I know somebody who
goes to Berkley! Then you get involv-
ed on the regional and international
levels and yOu can say, 'I know peo-
ple in Wisconsin and I know people
in Pittsburgh and I know people in
Israel! The higher up you go, the
greater variety of people you know."

Through BBYO one may know a
lot of people, but that s does not
necessarily mean that those people
are one's friends. Chapter reputations
dissuade some groups from program-
ming with other chapters. Some BBG
chapters, for instance, are labeled as
cliques or "JAPpy," while some boys'
groups fight labels like "ugly" or
Marci Finkelstein, a member of
Zahav BBG, says, "A lot of the
chapters that are good, and know they
are, manage to avoid functions with
chapters that are just getting started
or aren't doing as well:'
Sarah Voight knows reputations
can be a problem, but she made



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