From the roots we build: AZA, BBG AND BBYO CONNECT (cont’d) “Before, we had to wait until we were in high school to join.” —Jonathan Behar, BBYO Connect Alumni, Mossad AZA, BBYO Westchester Region BBYO Connect Participation Reinvigorated in 2011 as part of BBYO’s 5-year strategic plan, BBYO Connect offers meaningful and fun activities for Jewish teens in grades 6, 7 and 8, while serving as one of the roots of BBYO’s continued growth. BBYO Connect programs are designed specifically for middle school teens and are now active in more than 40 communities across North America. di p B gr rog BY O LO ffe ade ram C O re rs m on K ne IN nt , w in G fr ho g g ct FO om s e is R e ar d W th ne e ev A R os e d e D e ds sp lop of a ec in 6 th n d i f i g an int c al mo d e r l y re 7 th e s t o g r t s 8 th a d a re er s. In BBYO Lonestar Region, a Passover-themed Iron Chef program at a local kosher kitchen engaged 40 teens in grades 6–8. By exploring the preparation of kosher meals in relation to a popular television series, this program integrated Jewish learning in a fun and meaningful way. 4 11,621 9,915 6,773 FY ‘11 FY ‘12 FY ‘13 “We’re working to ease the transition from BBYO Connect to AZA and BBG.” — Emily Gorby and Alex Finkelstein, BBYO’s 2012 – 2013 Vice Presidents of Membership A key part of BBYO Connect is the active, mutually beneficial involvement of AZA and BBG members. Serving as role models and leaders, these “big brothers and sisters” reach out to their younger peers, growing the ranks of BBYO Connect and guiding participation. This year, nearly 75 AZA and BBG leaders from 25 regions attended the first ever BBYO Connect Leadership Engagement Summit to devise new ways to increase their impact on the program. AZA and BBG teens in BBYO Michigan Region utilized J-Serve, the International Day of Jewish Youth Service, to plan and implement projects for BBYO Connect participants. Serving as site captains, they designed opening and closing programs that incorporated the Judaic values of tzedakah and gemilut chasidim.