Cotton States Region is just one of the many regions that are part of the world’s largest Jewish youth organization, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO). The Cotton States Region is spread across 6 states in the south, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and a small section of Florida, with chapters located in Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville, Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville, and soon to be Baton Rouge! Twice a year, each chapter elects a chapter board with a president, a vice-president, a treasurer, a secretary, a recruiter, and a member devoted to incorporating Judaism into all programs. We also elect a regional board to help keep the chapter board on task, and make sure that the region is running smoothly. Each year, we elect the regional board at one of the several regional conventions located at different camps and hotels around the region. The conventions include a Judaic based convention called Kallah, a spring and winter convention, and a training convention which is known as Execs. Every convention and chapter program is supervised by adults, which we call our advisors, and many of them are Cotton State or BBYO alumni. Although our advisors are always present, the work and planning that goes into each and every program is done almost entirely by the members in each chapter. This helps us develop leadership skills that are valuable for our future.
AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) is the boys' half of BBYO. AZA has the Seven Cardinal Principles of Charity, Conduct, Filial Love, Fraternity, Judaism, Patriotism, and Purity. All programming incorporates the Five Folds of Athletic, Community Service, Education, Judaic, and Social.
AZA was created in June 1922 in Omaha, Nebraska as a response by the Jewish community, which was excluded from the Greek Fraternities. Sam Beber took over as the advisor for the Omaha chapter and shared his dream of an international Jewish youth organization, which has since been fulfilled.
There are several awards the members of AZA, or Alephs, are able to receive. They are the Shield of David, the highest award for outstanding individual schievement and leadership, the Tree of Life, the award for recruiting new members into the Order, and the Cardinal Principle Award, the award for Alephs who embody the Seven Cardinal Principles.
BBG (B'nai B'rith Girls) is the girls' half of BBYO. BBG has the Menorah Pledge of Citizenship, Community Service, Good Sisterhood, Inter-Faith Relations, Jewish Heritage, Philanthropy, and Tradition. Programs include the folds of Community Service, Creativity, Jewish Heritage, Recreation, Sisterhood, and Social Action.
BBG was created in December 1927 in San Francisco, California, and each chapter blossomed from sudden local forces that varied from place to place. Anita Perlman was chosen to chair the new organization and helped its spread and growth to what it is today through her leadership.
There are several awards for BBGs. Those are the Star of Deborah, awarded for individual achievement and leadership ability, the Eternal Light, awarded for recruiting new members to the Order, the Perlman Community Service Award, awarded for BBGs who actively participate in the Community Service fold in and out of programs, and the Menorah Pledge Award, awarded to BBGs who showcase the Menorah Pledge principles.