B'nai Brith Youth Organization, Lake Ontario Region

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B'nai Brith Youth Organization, Lake Ontario Region

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In accordance with the mandate and ideals of the International B'nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), the Lake Ontario Region (LOR) is dedicated to helping Jewish youth understand their history and culture while developing leadership skills through various activities and community service programs. BBYO was first introduced in Ontario as early as the 1920s but LOR was not officially established until after the Second World War. In 1929 the B'nai Brith Toronto Lodge sponsored the first youth chapter with 35 young men as bearers. Membership steadily grew overtime and new chapters began opening throughout the province. By the end of the Second World War, the rapid growth of new lodges and chapters resulted in the formal creation of the Southern Ontario Region (SOR), LOR's precursor. SOR included chapters in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Guelph and Peterborough. By the 1990s, its name had changed to LOR and chapters from Buffalo, Rochester and Upstate New York were added to its jurisdiction.
LOR is organized into a series of chapters comprised of AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) for boys and BBG (B'nai Brith Girls) for girls with a focus on teens from grades 8-12. Chapters are supervised by an adult board and are youth-led. Members are democratically elected to office by their peers and have control over planning and organizing programs which include dances, sports activities, festivals, fundraisers, group discussions, community services, trips abroad and weekend conventions with other BBYO members. Summer camp programs are also offered with the goal of building interpersonal and leadership skills. LOR remains faithful to its original purpose of providing learning experiences for its youth and instilling within them the desire to contribute to their communities as confident and responsible adults.

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