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Teen will help lead international Jewish organization

Read this story in The Charlotte Observer

Matthew Rabinowitz was elected last month in Atlanta to the leadership team of an international organization by regional and council leaders from around the world.

In June, Rabinowitz, 17, will assume the title and responsibilities of the 91st Grand Aleph Mazkir of the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA). He will join four other young men and five young women on the international leadership team.

The 10-member teen board helps chart the organization's vision for the coming year and provide leadership and support to teen leaders in local communities through the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, according to a press release.

"It was a spectacular feeling when they announced my name, knowing that hundreds of my peers trust me to lead them and lead the global Jewish teen community," said Rabinowitz, who lives in Matthews and is a junior at Queen's Grant High School.

AZA began in 1923 when Jewish college students in Omaha, Neb., organized a fraternity "using Hebrew letters in the style of Greek fraternities," according to

"Ninety-one years later, it makes up the boys' part of BBYO," said Rabinowitz. "When you join BBYO, a high school boy is really joining the Grand Order of the Aleph Zadik Aleph."

BBYO has a history of bringing "leadership training, community service opportunities, Jewish education, a connection to Israel, and positive identity to thousands of Jewish youth," from around the world, according to the website. Its core values are inclusivity Jewish identity, active leadership and tradition.

"I had grown up hearing lots of great things about BBYO," said Rabinowitz. His mother, Cheryl, was the North Carolina Council president in the early 1980s.

"Having been very involved in BBYO myself, it truly warms my heart that he loves BBYO and has found his passion for leadership and in helping to grow the global Jewish community," Cheryl Rabinowitz said.

"Since Matt joined BBYO (in the Hank Greenberg AZA chapter) in ninth grade, he has had numerous opportunities to develop his leadership skills by serving as president of his local chapter and secretary on a state level," said Ellen Goldstein, area field director of BBYO. "Matt has spent the past two summers participating in BBYO's summer immersive experiences, which include Judaic learning opportunities, leader¬ ship classes and hands-on activities that he can facilitate with his peers at home."

Matt Rabinowitz has served as a chairman of a local Holocaust memorial event, secretary of his local BBYO chapter and publicist of North Carolina Council BBYO.

He is serving as president of his local chapter, secretary of the N.C. Council; committee member on the Global Networking committee; and secretary, treasurer and globalization liaison of the 91st Grand International Board. He also has earned one of the most historic and prestigious honors that can be awarded to an AZA member: the Bronze Order of the Shield of David.

Rabinowitz does all this and more while working at Publix, participating in film and theater, and being in the top 10 percent of his junior class.

In his new position, Rabinowitz will lead the international movement in fundraising and advocacy. The February event was attended by 1,100 Jewish adults, including educators, professionals and philanthropists, and more than 2,200 Jewish teens from 20 countries.

"I'd like to make a very important note that I do not work alone," Rabinowitz said.

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