As a second-generation Aleph, I grew up hearing many stories about my dad and older brother and their time as chapter Beaus. Beaus' are one of the many old, unique, and fun traditions we hold in BBYO. In my region, being Beau is a huge honor and opportunity. It's very rewarding to be able to connect AZA and BBG in this way and it is also incredibly fun!
This summer I got the amazing opportunity to attend CLTC 1 in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. I remember that on day one of joining our mock chapters my friend from my region and I thought we should try to have a sweetheart for our mock chapter, but everyone else didn't see it as a big deal or important. To my surprise, other regions don't hold beau to the same stature we do in my home region and many do it differently. These differences made me curious, so I asked friends from three different regions to show their region carries out the tradition and what they like or dislike about it.
In my home region NTO #74, Beaus and Sweethearts have become an integral aspect of our chapter experiences and becoming one takes a lot of commitment and effort. Nominees for Beau must first attend a group “interview” with the chapter they want to become the Beau/Sweetheart of. Each nominee is limited to 2 interviews after which the chapter ranks them from favorite to least favorite. All nominees who attended an “interview” will get a chapter in which they will be “NOMing” (Nominating) to become Beau/Sweetheart. The NOMs attend every chapter function with the other NOMs until the Beau/Sweetheart Banquet where the chapter will vote who they want as Beau/Sweetheart for the upcoming year. The candidate who receives the majority of votes will go on to be Beau/Sweetheart.
Blake Silver, a current NOM and chapter Godol from Louis D. Brandeis AZA #932, believes this system allows Alephs and BBG’s to gain a greater understanding of how each order functions. As a Beau, Blake knows what a BBG project looks like and has taken what he's learned back to his chapter. Blake believes while there are many benefits to this system, it's also flawed. He believes the "NOMing" system makes beau appear more desirable than the reality and is not worth the broken friendships and upsets he's seen it leave in its wake.
If you drive northwest from NTO, you will find yourself in the beautiful Mountain Region! Here Beau/Sweetheart isn't a big deal at all. Instead of having 6 week periods get to know the NOMs, chapters will nominate candidates and do a close eyed hand vote to decide the next sweetheart. Jacob Wanger, the popular podcaster and member of Kennedy AZA, says “they have Beaus/Sweethearts but they do not use them.” Jacob doesn't find the position very meaningful, it is more of a title than it is an actual position of part of the chapter.
Finally, we stop in St. Louis Council, Mid-America, Shira BBG #2172. St. Louis's process for Beau/Sweetheart is very similar to NTO’s aside from a few minor differences. Chapter members decide who becomes a NOM, and then those NOMs can accept. Finally, the chapter will vote at a banquet after some time with them. According to Brooke Kraizer, a chapter member for Shira BBG, “[Beau/Sweetheart] is a very big deal, but is not used enough.” Luckily, I was able to contact one of their Beaus, Carson Busch from Shaprio AZA #2486/2481, who taught me the St.Louis tradition for Beau. St. Louis Beau's are allowed to run in pairs which lightens their load and allows them to have an “easier and more fun time”. Carson finds it difficult to know his job as Beau because there is little outline or rules on what to do.
BBYO’s traditions are what make this organization great. After 75 years of BBG and 95 years of AZA, many of the traditions we were founded on still exist. Beau/Sweetheart allows for both of these orders to converge. Although this tradition is slightly different in all regions, I believe that is also what makes it unique. Whether your region makes Beau/Sweetheart a big deal, or rarely utilizes it, it is still a tradition that all regions share.
Steven Mendelsohn is an Aleph from Louis D. Brandeis AZA of North Texas Oklahoma Region and loves long walks on the beach and cooking for friends.
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