The Little Aleph That Could

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Posted by Adam L

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Program HostRegional
Host RegionOhio Northern
Program TypeAleph-in-Training (AIT)
New Member Convention
Time Required2-5 hours
Target Population(s)Boys (AZA)
Convention Participants
People Participating60-100
Related Website

Program Summary:

At one point, we fell in love with the Aleph Zadik Aleph and we certainly know why. It wasn’t being on board, an AZA business meeting, planning programs, or even an international program; it was the BROTHERHOOD.

Full Description:

The Little Aleph That Could

AIT/MIT 2010:  “Let the Games Begin!”
AZA Separates Program

Created by the
25th Regional Board
Ohio Northern Region #23

Setting:  Dark room, all alephs sitting in a circle on the floor, Regional Board pacing inside circle (preferable with minimal noise), with flashlights to be used to point at their faces while they read.

Sam:  I once knew this kid, a long time ago, in fact it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen him, I think he may have moved—which is probably a good thing—he wasn’t exactly a good kid. From what I remember, he always was getting himself into trouble… and I mean all the time. He had a habit of doing lots of really stupid shit; always kind of wild, doing crazy and dumb stuff. He even got in trouble with the law once.

Mac:  As an eighth grader, he always struggled to fit in and never knew my true place. He tried sports… didn’t work; he tried mock trial… didn’t work; he even tried band… WOW that did not work. High school was just around the corner and like everyone else, this kid was scared. He didn’t know what to expect or what to believe from other people. Middle school was a joke to him and he never really took it seriously. He always wondered if the rumors he had heard about High School were true.
The first two years, the kid always slacked off. He skipped school and got sent to the office practically every minute. This punk was not a good kid. It even soon showed when his report card came in the mail and it was like “B, A, D, B, A, D.”
Ironically, all of his grades on that report card formed one word that was spelled out two times:  BAD, BAD. But you guessed it—the kid didn’t notice and kept goofing off. Later that year, he received a report card and man, I think I had more D’s on it then Pamela Anderson has on her chest. It was absurd. At this point, the kid figured he had to get his life back on track or else he was going to end up on the streets or someplace where nobody gave a shit about him.
Then he found a fraternity called AZA. This fraternity opened its arms and swept him off his feet. This feeling of renewal was amazing to him. This feeling of getting back on track enabled him to spread his wings and overcome any obstacle that he was presented with. No class at school could discourage him now. He was a whole new person because of AZA. I am a whole new person because of AZA. I remain Mac Kahn—a damn proud Aleph, 22nd Regional Moreh.
Sam:  As he went through his middle school years, he realized he wasn’t very good with girls—and that caused lots of issues for him. He was also very vocal. He stood up for what he believed in—no matter who or what stood in his way. This kid, well, he didn’t have many friends, because he had lived a very sheltered and shadowed life and wasn’t really given the opportunity to have a lot of friends.

Jacob:  Before he joined AZA, he had few friends. He didn't go out much and he certainly didn't have much interaction with girls.  He was socially awkward, and couldn't hold a conversation if his life depended on it.  He was a loser.  Plain and simple.  That soon changed.  He didn't actually want to come to his first AZA program.  He had accepted that he was going to be a loser in high school and was hoping that college would be better. The kid’s mom made him go.  It was one of the most fun Saturday nights he had had in years. The kid joined that night.  It was one of the best decisions he had ever made.  He’s more confident.  He has a lot of close friends, and he actually does things on Saturday nights.  

For the first time in years, he actually enjoyed life in the present instead of just waiting to graduate and go to college.  AZA was the clean slate that he never had, the chance to start over, and begin again as the cool person that he had always wanted to be.  Without AZA, he would probably be staying home every night of the week, hating himself for who he was.  

I am still in AZA for two reasons.  First, more people deserve the chance that I had.  I was pulled out of a shit hole of self-loathing into a place where I was for once accepted.  It would be selfish of me to not do my best to make sure that others had that same opportunity.  Second, this is where my friends are.  I have made more friends in my last two-and-a-half years in AZA then I did in the fourteen years preceding it.  These are people who I can actually trust on—people who will defend me, and who will say that they are not just friends, but will proudly declare that they are my brothers. I remain Jacob Lincoff—a damn proud Aleph, 21st Regional Shaliach.

Sam:  When he got to the 8th grade, he knew that next year he was being forced to transfer schools. He wasn’t very excited about it either. Next thing he knew, he was also being forced into going to some dumb youth group thing called BBYO. He met a couple of cool guys, ended up joining a chapter. Little did he know, he joined a dying chapter. There were only 5 guys in his chapter, but for some reason he didn’t know that, or just didn’t realize it. He brought some of his few friends with him to a program, they joined too. The few older guys in that chapter convinced this kid to run for board some how… he didn’t know what he was getting himself into at that point.

Adam:  Think about what drove you to your first AZA program On the piece of paper in front of you, please write explain why you decided join AZA? At what moment did you first feel most at home in the Aleph Zadik Aleph?

Garrett:  The Aleph Zadik Aleph is one of the greatest organizations that a kid could experience as a Jewish teenager. This is the story of a kid who joined AZA because he had nowhere else to turn.

I remember it like it was yesterday, Lasertag sleepover Matt Soble’s House, I have never in my life had such a good time with 50 guys sleeping in one sweaty basement. This was enough to get me to join BBYO. When I first joined BBYO, I was extremely shy and reserved, I was unable and unwilling to meet new people and now if you couldn’t already tell, I have made a change for the better. I have changed from a reserved young boy into a strong confident man of the Aleph Zadik Aleph.  AZA means to me a new beginning and a place that you can be yourself. When I joined BBYO, I was given a clean slate, I was not judged like I was at school and I was not a complete loser, like I was at school. I was accepted and respected for who I am as a person and was able to be myself. Now that I look back on the past three years in BBYO, I realize just how much this fine organization has done for me.

I have never felt so close to so many people hailing from Cleveland, Canton, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo in my life. BBYO has truly meant the world to me. I can not express how thankful I am to the people that forced me to become involved in BBYO. I don’t really know where I would be without the skills and experiences that I have gained through my time in BBYO. My life honestly was not headed down a good path in eighth and ninth grade before I joined BBYO. I tried and tried to find a group of friends that I fit in with. In eighth and ninth grade, I became involved in the drama club and performed in two musicals in consecutive years, to say the least I did not fit in with these kids.

In school, I was the butt of everyone’s jokes and it was not enjoyable. I finally found four close friends that convinced me to attend a BBYO event and so I did. It was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I was not judged nor made fun of and everyone seemed to be my friends. I joined as soon as I possibly could. This organization has let me expand my friend base onto a ridiculous level. I have bonded with so many people in this amazing organization and I am so thankful for what it offers. Not only have I gained friends in BBYO but I have also gained the confidence to be myself in school and my community to gain the friendships of those outside of BBYO. BBYO is my life and I will always have a special place in my heart for Exodus AZA #2425 and the Ohio northern Region #23 because if it weren’t for them, I would not be the same. I remain Garret Altman—damn proud Aleph, 20th Regional Mazkir.

Daniel:  He was like any other old kid. Trying to find himself in high school…switching between groups of friends just trying to find the right fit for himself.  There were always his soccer friends. What assholes they were though, only concerned for themselves, not mindful of others, ready to push any out of the way that they deemed inferior…and you know what? That kid was somewhat in a way like them. They had rubbed off on him after so many years. This same kid was finally invited to his first BBYO program by a junior on the soccer team. Not sure of what to think, but eager from being invited and talked to by someone two years older than him he decided to try out it. He came there and there was something strange…there was such loud laughter coming from around the corner. Such happiness, such jubilation. He was not ready for the next scene to come into view; he had never seen so many guys in a close group crouched around a fire, AND TOUCHING!!?? What was going on? Maybe it was the wrong decision to come after all.

However once they all saw him, he was greeted with loud cheers. He was grabbed by multiple hands and was seated in the circle feeling somewhat excited yet timid as well. He looked around to see faces of all different ages all together, all as one, around the same fire. He soon found himself laughing with the rest, and sharing stories to the group. Never had a place felt so warm and inviting, so easy to enjoy oneself in. One of the greatest things was that EVERYONE wanted to be his friend and talk to him, meet him, and welcome him into the group…Time passed and he found himself going to every event, not missing one for any reason. That feeling of exuberance came every time he arrived and stayed until the moment he was dropped off by a junior or senior back at his house. This was a unique place, somewhere to feel at home, closer to anyone than he had ever been before. Whether it was staying at sleepovers and not getting any sleep of course, or going to the Indians game and cheering wildly, it was all done together. Purely put, it was fun without boundaries, without limits; where no staircase could climb, no ladder could reach…he was later asked after being in the organization for a long time, when did you become a brother?

For a while he pondered this, an endless stream of happy memories flowing through his head. When was the exact moment he had actually felt the brotherhood? When had he become a true Aleph? After countless thought he fell upon one conclusion…I fell upon one conclusion! I had been a brother ever since I stepped foot at that very first program, since all the seniors and juniors and sophomores and freshman alike had welcomed me with open arms to come join in their fraternity which brought them and will forever bring them so much joy! Now I am dedicated to bring that same joy that was brought to me to all of you, the future of our region! I remain Daniel Livshin—damn proud Aleph, 18th Regional Gizbor.

Adam:  Think about the Aleph that challenges you, pushes you, looks after you, makes you become a better Aleph and genuinely cares about your well being in AZA and in life. Write his name on your piece of paper. Describe what this Aleph has taught you, in AZA, in life, and about being a better Aleph, leader, and person.

Sam:  This little Aleph had a long train of cars to pull, so to speak. He went along very well till he came to a steep hill. But then, no matter how hard he tried, he could not move the long train of cars. He pulled and he pulled. He puffed and he puffed. He backed and started off again.

Jacob:  But no matter how hard he tried he could not get the cars to go up the hill by himself. At last he left the train and started up the track alone. Do you think he had stopped trying? No, indeed! He was just going for help. "Surely I can find someone to help me," he thought.

Garret:  Well some time had passed, and a lot of the really influential older guys who really got him into it—they were gone now, and couldn’t help him.

Sam:  But his chapter was growing a little bit, thus making it even more difficult for him to get his train of cars over the hill. This Aleph was still on board, making some new friends every once and a while. He even went to his first convention—AIT/MIT— and met a few people, but was still kind of quiet. He was starting to become less and less of a bad kid though, and actually ended up running for a higher board position at the next chapter election. But he still needed help getting his train of cars over the hill…

Adam: I want to tell you a story about brotherhood…

May 7th, 1989. Twenty Thousand screaming fans filled The Richfield Coliseum. The Cleveland Cavaliers had finished the regular season with the best record in the club’s history. They were a young team and full of hope for the future. The Chicago Bulls were finally emerging out of the Eastern Conference with Michael Jordan, the up and coming star, leading the squad. At this time, Jordan was not known simply as “His Airiness,” or “Sir Jordan.”  He had proven nothing. He only had raw potential to fall back on.

The two teams were meeting for Game Five of their first round playoff match-up. The game came down to the final three seconds. The Cavaliers were hanging on to a one-point lead at 100-99. This was the point when the great would separate from the good and the path of these two teams would split for the next decade. Three seconds, two teams, one shot, more on the line than any of those 20,000 fans, 24 players, or 2 coaches could have imagined.

Chicago called a timeout to prepare for their last chance. They reached the bench and Phil Jackson told them that their job was incredibly easy—all they needed was the ball to have a chance. The Bulls finished their huddle by chanting “Confidence, Determination, Follow-Through.” As the Bulls took the court, these words were echoing through their heads and they realized what Jackson had meant—it was not supernatural ability or the lucky bounce of a ball, but simply an attitude that they had instilled in each other that would win the game.  

“Confidence, Determination, and Follow Through.”

And the rest was history… Jordan started on the block and shot up the key. Bill Simmons’ in-bounded the ball and Jordan caught it on the right wing with three seconds to go. He dribbled hard left with two, pulled up inside the circle with one, hung in the air, and finally, confidently, determinedly, and with perfect follow through, released the ball. Before the ball had fallen through the net, Jordan had turned up the court and jumped in the air while pumping his arms. He already knew the result. Game over. His legacy was born.

Tonight I challenge you. What made the difference between those two teams on May 7th, 1989—one as good and one as great—was brotherhood. Brotherhood is about having each other’s back, through thick and thin. The Bulls understood that; each teammate gave each other “confidence, determination, and follow through.”

At one point in the last four years, I fell in love with the Aleph Zadik Aleph. While I don’t know exactly when it happened, I certainly know why. It wasn’t being on board, running a business meeting, planning programs, or even an international event; it was the brotherhood. Each one of you is a part of something greater than yourself, but despite this, each one of you matters. Despite your age or experience or whatever, every single one of you matters. Every single Aleph matters. Every single one of you has the ability to inspire someone—to help someone.

We’re about embracing the weird kid, befriending the shy kid and cultivating good people.  That’s what AZA does to kids, no matter what they look like, act like, or smell like.  It grabs hold of them and makes them into good people.  No, not every member will ever have the chance to be an international, regional, or even chapter leader, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have an incredibly unique experience and come out a much better person for the time they have spent in AZA.

I remember looking up to the older members in my chapter. They would pick me up for every program, help me with every election, make me go to summer programs, and got me to believe in this organization and myself. They gave me “confidence, determination, and follow through.” I also remember going to my first AIT/MIT. I forgot to bring a pair of sneakers… I know, how could I have forgotten to pack a pair of sneakers? But that’s not the point—the point is, I didn’t walk around Camp Wise in my slippers all weekend because another Aleph, who I had only met twenty minutes before, let me borrow his extra pair of sneakers. At the most simplistic level, this was true brotherhood.

I still don’t remember when I first fell in love with AZA. I probably never will, but it doesn’t matter.  I know that I need to make it happen for as many others as I possibly can.  I know that I need to spend the brief remaining time I have left in this organization to give back as much as I possibly can to finding the people who will someday take my place and to expanding the home that the Aleph Zadik Aleph has been to me.  I remain, Adam Michael Nelson—damn proud Aleph, 25th Regional Aleph Godol.

Sam:  After a while the little aleph came to a little aleph just like himself. He ran alongside and said: "Will you help me over the hill with my train of cars? It is so long and so heavy that I can't get it over."

Adam:  "Yes, indeed!" said this little aleph. "I'll be glad to help you, if I can." So the little alephs started back to where the train of cars had been standing. Both little alephs went to the head of the train, one behind the other.

Daniel:  Puff, puff! Off they started! Slowly the cars began to move. Slowly they climbed the steep hill. As they up the hill climbed, each little aleph linked hearts with one another. They were brothers and their hearts were beating as one.

(Regional board starts the AZA heart beat. SLOWLY, Mac says I think I can in the background, look for sign to cut off)

Mac:  “I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I think I can - I think I can - I think I can I think I can…"

Adam:  Think about the type of experience you want to get out of AZA. On your paper, write an “I think I can…” statement about your involvement in AZA.

Garret:  As you all know from the children’s book, they thought they could, and they did.

Jacob:  They didn’t give up…

Daniel:  They didn’t settle for just thinking…

Sam:  They took action

Mac:  They did what any aleph would; they helped a brother who was in need.

Jacob:  AZA is not just a youth group, it’s a fraternity.

Daniel:  The Aleph Zadik Aleph has been around for 85 years!

Garrett:  Now, AZA is an international organization involving thousands upon thousands of Jewish teenagers just like us

Mac:  And every one of them is just as important as the next.

Adam:  and every one of us is capable of making a difference for the future of this organization. We know you can.

Sam:  and it all began with 14 little alephs that thought they could…

Mac:  We’re brothers in the order called the AZA

Jacob:  So listen everybody to what we say

Sam:  The Aleph Zadik Aleph is going strong today

Adam:  So stand together

Daniel:  In Omaha Nebraska it all began

Garrett:  14 Jewish boys with a master plan

Jacob:  They asked Sam Beber to lend a hand

Adam:  So stand together

Sam:  Men of AZA that’s who we are

Daniel:  The Seven Cardinal Principles have brought us far

Garrett:  Come and join together in our song

Jacob: The Aleph Zadik Aleph will always be strong

Garrett:  So take a look around and look inside

Mac:  We know our destiny can’t be denied

Sam:  Forever with our brothers side by side

Adam:  We’ll stand together…

(Start the heartbeat, get everyone doing it together)

Go to outdoor chapel for inductions

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