Joining Simon Atlas

Who should join Simon Atlas?

Any Jewish teen in 8th grade or above can join.  You don’t have to be religious and you don’t have to know anyone in the chapter.  Anyone who wants to make friends that can last a lifetime and have loads of fun every week should give Simon Atlas a try!

How do I get started?

If you don’t know anyone in the chapter, you can email our Moreh, Eli Kerness, who’s in charge of membership at to find out when the next program is. You don’t need to be registered to come, and whether you know nobody there or half the chapter you’ll have a great time! Come to a few programs or meetings and see what it’s like. When you decide you want to officially join, tell Gabe Schaner, and he’ll show you how.

What is Simon Atlas?

Here is what some current and former members have to say about SiAt:

Alex Pollack (Life Member)

When I was in 9th grade, I wasn’t really sure how I envisioned my four years of high school. I knew nothing about BBYO, only that a lot of Jewish kids in the area did it and really enjoyed it. When Chad Gruzin invited me to my first program, I thought I’d give it a shot. What started as me taking a chance on a new opportunity has resulted in my building of lifelong friendships, gaining vital leadership skills, and creating everlasting memories. What separates Simon Atlas from other chapters in the order is unquestionably our brotherhood. Go to your first event and you’ll immediately be approached by kids who don’t just want to increase our membership numbers but rather want you to feel as if SiAt is the place where you belong. I can’t think of any better way I could have spent my high school career.

Adam Vinner (Life Member)

When I was choosing a chapter to join in AZA, or “rushing” various chapters, something stood out to me in Simon Atlas, but I couldn’t quite tell what it was. So I kept circulating my Saturdays (when BBYO programs are held) between 3 different chapters. Each night had it’s perks, whether it be feasting on food from various cultures, or hanging out at a huge house complete with a movie theater, ice cream bar, a basketball court, and tons of video games. However, nothing was the same as when I went to a Simon Atlas event. I always had someone to talk to and I even cracked a few jokes that people laughed at, which made me feel a little bit less nervous. I guess what drew me into Simon Atlas was the friendly persona of every member I spoke to, whereas at the other chapter’s events I would have a couple quick exchanges with people, and then be overlooked for the remainder of the evening. Even if it is hard to discover what it is about Simon Atlas, Simon Atlas will intrigue you, and you will instantly be drawn in.

Sam Mininberg (Life Member)

Simon Atlas has truly changed my life. When I joined SiAt in the beginning of 8th grade, the only person I knew was the person who brought me to my first event. Everyone was a stranger to me when I arrived at that first program, but after five exciting minutes I seemed to know everyone in the chapter already, and they all knew me. As soon as I walked onto the lawn all of the guys approached me and started conversations with me. Even though I was the shyest kid I knew, there was something about this group of guys that made me feel comfortable talking to them. One kid even stayed with me throughout the entirety of my first program so that I felt at home. After that first program, I knew Simon Atlas was for me. In now my fourth year in AZA, I have become a more confident, outgoing person, as well as a leader. My terms as chairs and board positions have provided priceless experiences about being a leader. But AZA is more than just making new friends and learning how to be a leader; Simon Atlas has a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie that is unparalleled anywhere else. Friends at school are great, but when you join AZA, you gain an international order of brothers. Looking back through my 3+ years in Simon Atlas, there have been countless instances of ‘those’ moments that are simply unforgettable. Whether funny, meaningful, or fraternal, Simon Atlas has it all. Where else can you experience a sleepover where everyone shares their innermost feelings by candlelight, because they trust everyone in that room, or experience programming so meaningful that some break down in tears? And under all of this, is a sense of unity from our Judaic roots, which we explore often. I could not be prouder of this fraternity, and can truly say that with undying love my heart and home is and forever will be Simon Atlas AZA #126.

Alec Abraham (Life Member)

I endured months of listening to my friend Dan ramble on about why I should join AZA and Simon Atlas and all of this stuff.  Frankly, I didn’t care.  I did not want to join Simon Atlas what good what it do? I would have to meet new people and this would be an aspect of  my life that would be unwanted and silly.  Dan eventually forced me to go to a program and I was star-stricken.  People were friendly, I had a connection with almost everyone.  I decided in the middle of eighth grade that I would permanently join Simon Atlas.  It was not until much later that I realized how much Simon Atlas has benefitted me.  Simon Atlas gives me a chance to lead, a chance to learn, a chance to make friends, a chance to be happy, and a chance to be part of something bigger than yourself. I am so incredibly proud to be part of Simon Atlas words simply cannot express it, the emotional connections are just too strong. So go to an event, it will be awkward, but then go to another, then another, then another and I promise, you will not regret it.  Our brotherhood and comradeship is something that you will never forget. After being  a member of the chapter for almost two years I could not be more happy that Dan nagged me for so long and I am glad about my decision to join SiAt. I am very excited and cannot wait to see what is in store for the next couple of years.

Chad Gruzin (Life Member)

Whenever people ask me what AZA or BBYO is, the simple answer always tends to be “a Jewish youth group” but that just doesn’t describe it right. Some better answers would be fraternity, leadership, modern Judaism, and lifetime friendships. Simon Atlas has a deeper meaning in my heart, which is family. I first came to SiAt to expand my personal circle of friends. It seemed like a simple plan, hang out on Saturday nights and Mondays, meet new people, have a good time. At this point, I didn’t realize how amazing of a decision I had just made. Now, a year after my first event, I am growing and expanding through Simon Atlas. I have an opportunity to be anything I want to be, and will be accepted for it. The best part of this is that I’m going through this process with the young men I can proudly call my Brother Alephs.

Jacob Stillman (Life Member)

I joined Simon Atlas towards the end of Second Semester 8th grade. At first I wasn’t so into it but as time went on I began to become more active and by the end of the first quarter freshman year, I was active and couldn’t get enough. The number one reason why I joined, which is still a big part today, is because I wanted to have fun, and the group of guys I’ve spent my past 4 years with was just the group to do that with. This chapter has provided me with several of my best friends, along with several other friends whom I may not be as close with but still love to have a good time with. It’s also provided me the skills I need to be successful in life, beyond just school work. It’s things like public speaking and brainstorming along with creating personal connections with people that is what takes people the farthest in life and creates the most overall success. Our tight-knit brotherhood is what differentiates us from everyone else and makes us stand out as a unique group of guys, and throughout my time here it’s been what I’ve valued most.

Jacob Bennett (Current Member, future Life Member)

As a life member of Simon atlas aza #126, I cannot emphasize the life changing experience this chapter offers. The guys you come into the chapter with are your closest friends and brothers by the time you leave. On top of that SiAt offers events that no other chapter can truly give you to the same extent. Simon Atlas AZA #126 stands alone a top one of the best experiences you can get in your high school life.

Ben Fleischer (Current Member, future Life Member)

Words cannot describe what the name Simon Atlas AZA #126 means to me. SiAt provides so much to the people who give it a chance: whether it is becoming a leader and a better person, opening up about my life with numbers of different guys, experiencing once in a lifetime opportunities, or always having a good time. When joining SiAt, I was an 8th grader who didn’t have a set group of friends to spend time with, but SiAt allowed me to form strong friendships with people around the county who I see every single week. SiAt has given me friendships that will last lifetimes. The brotherhood that is there when you walk through the door at a program, in the circle of brother Alephs at havdalah after programs, and at meetings is seen and felt every single time. You enter SiAt with few or even no friends and leave with hundreds of brothers. I will always look back on my high school years and see that SiAt was the best choice of my life, and truly a life changing experience. If I can give any of you 8th grade boys out there one piece of advice, it would be to give SiAt a chance to impact you the way it has for so many others, including me. There is no better way to experience your high school years.

Gabe Schaner (Current Member, future Life Member)

Joining Simon Atlas AZA changed my life. I had never felt a strong connection to others. I had always been more introverted. I didn’t like that. When I joined SiAt, I immediately became invested in the brotherhood. It wasn’t a social group. It was a fraternity. A band of brothers. SiAt has made me into a mentor, a leader, a person I never could have otherwise become. SiAt became the first cause I could be passionate about. It became my calling. Let it become yours! Join SiAt today and make unforgettable bonds, memories and lifelong brothers.

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