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BBYO Runs in the Abes Family

Read this story in the Atlanta Jewish Times

Sandy Springs resident Julie Abes knows all about what her daughter, Amanda, is experiencing as the president of Atlanta Council BBYO, even beyond the joys of International Convention, summer programs and local activities.

After all, Amanda is just following in her footsteps.

The same jacket that is now Amanda’s as president once was Julie’s and has her name on it among 40 years of Atlanta presidents, and Amanda has possession of files with Julie’s notes from council meetings.

“The passion and leadership are all the same,” Julie said of BBYO today compared with her time in the 1980s.

And she and her daughter don’t account for even half the family connection to BBYO.

Julie’s father, Sam Mislow, was a member of AZA in Atlanta in the 1950s, and her mom, Sandra, was in BBG in Memphis. In BBYO, Julie met and began dating David Abes, who perhaps was drawn to the organization by the sports but found a wife. In addition to Amanda, 17, a senior at the Weber School, the Abes have a second child in BBYO, Mitchell, 15, a freshman at North Springs High School who is in his chapter leadership.

Julie recently learned that the connection goes back one more generation: Her grandfather Harry Mislow was also a member of Atlanta Council BBYO.

“It’s a place you can be yourself,” Julie said of the attraction of BBYO. Noting the teens running around the Hyatt Regency in bunny ears, cow hats, wild colors and other costumes, she added: “If you want to be crazy, you can be crazy.”

BBYO provided her social circle as a teenager, when she attended North Springs High School but David and a larger population of Jewish students went to Riverwood, and that social circle endures. She said the friends she made in BBYO remain some of her best friends today, even those who don’t live in Atlanta.

Julie remains involved as part of the BBYO parent network and has helped bring back some of the activities from her time in BBYO, such as Sunday get-togethers at the Jewish Community Center. She has helped organize such fundraisers as a family Shabbat and a silent auction that raised $10,000 last year with items that included admission to this year’s International Convention.

The push for unity among the Jewish youth movements is something different from her time in BBYO, but Julie said the important thing is to keep Jewish youths engaged. “I don’t care what they do.”

After a moment, she added with a smile: “I prefer BBYO.”

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