Keeping Pace: 100 Years of AZA

May 20, 2024
TJ Katz

Greater Jersey Hudson River Region

Class of 2024

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100 years later. Here we are. 

Every single one of us still striving to be the first Aleph to wear his pin straight. We are founded on a handshake that has two hearts beating as one. From day one we have dedicated ourselves to honor, to truth, to virtue, and to justice. We were built on Patriotisim, Conduct, Charity, Fraternity, Filial Love, Purity, and Judaism in 1924 and we still represent that to this day. 

The Aleph Zadik Aleph lives on forever.

For me, it’s completely changed my life. Outside of the opportunity to travel the world and allow me to make a difference in the lives of countless others, it’s fundamentally altered who I am along with who I wish to be. AZA took an awkward 8th-grade kid and turned him into a slightly less awkward young adult. AZA taught me how to speak to a crowd, make new friends, and feel comfortable being myself. More than all, though, AZA made me proud to be Jewish. 

This year I’ve felt like I’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants. Serving as Grand Aleph Godol has been an honor and a privilege, and I am eternally grateful to honor the legacy of Sam Beber and those 14 boys in Omaha, Nebraska who didn’t know they’d change the Jewish world forever. Only 98 other individuals have stood in this role before me, and I hope an infinite amount will serve in the role after me. But, for now, there’s a finite amount of people who have gotten this chance. A chance to truly try and change the world for the better. A chance to preserve the work done by those who preceded me.

Well, I’ve tried to do exactly that. Every conversation I’ve had with anyone from an Aleph in Training to a 100-year-old AZA alum has attempted to honor those who came before me. Trying to make every person I interact with feel seen and heard. Valuing every interaction as not only a possibility for me to educate them but also an opportunity for them to educate me. 

As AZA reaches our Centennial Anniversary, I’m in awe at what we have accomplished. It is undoubtedly a result of unswerving loyalty and devotion to the principles on which we were founded. It is a result of hundreds of thousands of Alephs dedicating themselves to the worthy cause of AZA.

Cheers to another Century of changing Jewish lives for the better. Changing lives through the gift of our heart and home: AZA.

Fraternally Submitted,

Aleph TJ Katz 

Livingston AZA #2361

Greater Jersey Region #22

99th Grand Aleph Godol

TJ is an Aleph from Greater Jersey Hudson River Region and is serving as the 99th Grand Aleph Godol.

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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