From Chapter Godol to College Major

March 8, 2022
Abe Friedland

Scarsdale, New York, United States

Class of 2022

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As I was installed as Mossad AZA’s 10th Godol, I was left with a chilling message from our prior Shaliach. “If anyone was going to be Mossad’s last Godol, I’m glad it’s gonna be you.”

Since our founding in 2010, Mossad has always been the standard of a strong AZA chapter in Hudson Valley Region. 2 years ago, when COVID hit, I was one of six non-seniors, and our window to recruit new members rapidly shut in our faces. So yes, after winning my taxing unopposed election for chapter Godol, the guys on my board were the only members of Mossad. Everyone had written us off, and even the Alephs I looked up to, who recruited me and showed me the ropes of AZA, told me we were going to fold by the end of my term.

After our chapter kickoff, I started to believe them. We had about 14 kids there including my board, but the program was poorly planned and horrendously executed—or so we thought. When we heard that our prospects enjoyed the event and would come back two weeks later, I had my first realization of the term: the only people who know when a program goes haywire are the ones who understand how it was supposed to be run in the first place. If you, the program planner, have fun regardless of the situation, your energy will radiate to the teens and they will have no idea that you abandoned your script after 10 minutes. That’s what my board and I did, without even knowing it. We made every mistake in the book, had a good time, and secured continuous meeting attendance from our prospects.

As we progressed through our terms each chapter meeting was slightly better planned. I got better at my job of managing my board. Our S’gan was pumping out scripts. Our Moreh was consistently getting good attendance. Flyers were going out on time. Our Gizbor had already raised $400 for us the prior summer, so essentially we were cruising, and I loved being at the helm. Until we had to go virtual, of course.

We didn’t have any members who I felt confident in maintaining their interest over Zoom, but somehow we managed to get 15 people signed up for our virtual Winter Convention. No disrespect to any of the steerers, but I DESPISED this convention. I was convinced that Mossad and even HVR were going to crumble in our hands. I did a spirit circle alone in my bedroom, I spun around my desk chair to show excitement during Shabbat services, and the highlight of my weekend was listening to a freshman rap out of sync to the ISpy beat. To reiterate, it sucked. What I realized after the fact though was the same thing I took away from our first meeting. More than half of our virtual convention attendees hadn’t experienced a real convention until this past December, so they have nothing to compare with this virtual hell.

I was miserable all weekend until Good and Welfare on Saturday night. In Hudson Valley, all AZA Good and Welfares are done by chapter, so it was my board and a bunch of new Mossad kids who couldn’t understand why we were turning off our lights. Mossad has always taken Good and Welfare very seriously, and I’ve always believed that it’s the time when the purest sense of sibling-hood felt within AZA surfaces itself. Needless to say that in December of 2020, I had a lot to talk about. To my utter disbelief, the new members jumped right in and took it just as seriously.

When the seniors left me to run Mossad, they took our chapter’s identity with them. They took their jokes,  program traditions, and their siblinghood with them to college and I stayed behind to vulture it up. Mossad had no identity. There was nothing to actually join. Being an Aleph from Mossad didn’t distinguish you until Good and Welfare happened. We formed a unique sibling-hood that night; an unbreakable bond that has snowballed into the international powerhouse of an AZA chapter that we are today. As our newer members got more involved and as we kept building Mossad, I realized how comfortable I felt.

I never loved school. I had a few classes each year I enjoyed, but there was no general trend behind them. When I was Godol, I was in my Junior year and I had no clue what I wanted to study. I had no dreams, no passion, no ideas—all I wanted was to not do the same thing every day. As I worked tirelessly to lead my chapter to success, I realized that building something new and team-leading was truly what I loved. I was fascinated by the decision-making and the psychology of the work and addicted to the intermittent success points. I decided I NEED to be doing this work for the rest of my life.

Mossad, in a sense, was a startup company. It was a group with a grand dream with nothing but a little bit of passion at the start. It was the team dynamic, the behavioral realizations, and the ultimate payoff that made me fall in love with leadership in BBYO and leadership in general. In the upcoming fall, I will be starting at Tulane University, studying their rare major: Entrepreneurial Management. Mossad AZA #2558 ignited my fire to be the startup consultant that helps a company change the world.

Abe Friedland is an Aleph from Hudson Valley Region and was a standby contestant on Chopped Jr., but unfortunately never hit TV.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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