In the beginning...
In the beginning there was a vision. It was a vision of a chapter of the Aleph Zadik Aleph to be placed in the area of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Its purpose was to provide a place where teenage men could grow together with Judaism as their bond and provide a friendship which would become everlasting.
The chapter, which would later be named Melech, was an idea created by a group of parents in 1994 who wanted the Aleph Zadik Aleph back in the Gaithersburg area. Wilner AZA had folded due to internal problems a few years back and these parents desired their children to be affiliated with the Aleph Zadik Aleph. One mother, Fonda Lowe, worked with the regional office to make this chapter possible. Advisors were located and a first meeting was able to be held on a Sunday afternoon in April, 1994 at the Lowe household.
The First Meeting
It was a Sunday afternoon in April, 1994. Fourteen young, Jewish men grouped together to meet at Ryan Lowe's house, many of them for the first time. The ages of the participants ranged from thirteen to seventeen years old. Ted Lieber and Larry Casper, the chapter's advisors, led this meeting.
The two advisors introduced themselves and initiated an icebreaker to allow the young men to get to know each other. The activity included the participants pairing off and discussing their favorite football teams and their interests. Then everyone shared to the rest of the group what they learned about their partners and about themselves. Ted and Larry explained their experiences in AZA, and three other participants who also had been involved talked about their experiences. The group decided to meet again two weeks later at Bryan Ackerman's house for a barbecue and meeting. Marc Kravitz and Bryan Ackerman were also designated as phone committee to keep the participants informed.
Naming and the Birth of Reb Moishe
The second meeting held at Bryan Ackerman's house was the place where many of the early traditions were created. D.C. Council Aleph Godol Danny Herbst and Council Aleph S'gan Jared Paul attended to facilitate and meet the members. During the first part of the meeting, Danny and Jared told the members about their duties as council officers and how they wanted to help the chapter.
Following Danny and Jared's introduction, the chapter discussed possibilities for names. Suggestions included O'nahnoot, Sinai, Sammy Davis Jr., and others, but Melech (king in Hebrew), the suggestion made by the two advisors, was designated to be the name of the chapter. The chapter colors were also picked to be black and silver, after the Los Angeles Kings, and the mascot was designated as a mohel, later to be known as Reb Moishe.
There was also a strong push for elections to take place at the subsequent meeting which was chosen to be held at Greg and Steve Cypes' house, about two weeks later. After the conclusion of this meeting, the chapter had a barbeque.
The First Elections
Larry Casper, one of the chapter's advisors, acted as Godol and performed the rituals and elections in the traditional AZA style, which were held at the Cypes household. Before the motion to go into elections was passed, a motion to make Ryan Herson Aleph Shotare Godol was made and passed. Elections went smoothly with Larry counting the votes. Bryan Ackerman won the position as first Aleph Godol and Marc Kravitz won as first Aleph S'gan. All elections were contested, with no one running unopposed.
The Temporary Charter
On May 23, 1994, the D.C. Council held its annual Awards Night Ceremony. The night was especially special to the members of Melech since it was the official birth of the chapter. The Temporary Charter was bestowed upon the chapter by the former D.C. Council Aleph Godol Maury Apple. This date is the one celebrated yearly as Melech's anniversary.
The First Term: April 1994 - January 1995
The First Down
With the beginning of the new school year in September, 1994, Melech began to organize for the coming term. In a special meeting Bryan Ackerman (Godol), Marc Kravitz (S'gan), and Jonathan Neumann (Gizbor) brain stormed for programming ideas. Meetings were held regularly, with Bryan using his mother's BBG gavel until one could be bought for Melech. Each meeting brought new faces, the early meetings were held at different houses, due to the numerous Jewish holidays that year, but were later scheduled weekly at the Jewish Community Center room 18.
The Jew Crew, IGAS, and Mad Mum
During the second meeting of the term, which was held at Jonathan Neumann's house, two new members attended the meeting. Benji Klinger and Danny Weiss, the first two members of the clique known as the Jew Crew, were first to join the chapter. This group inside the chapter all attended summer camp together, and were very close friends outside of the chapter. They helped to increase membership by doubling the amount of people in the chapter. The one significant thing about the Jew Crew was how they distanced themselves from the rest of the chapter. When attending chapter programs and sporting events, they mostly clung together not allowing their guard down to get to know the other members of their chapter. We mention the Jew Crew because they are the type of member who never appreciates the Aleph Zadik Aleph or the friendship that is created inside of Melech. This chapter needs members who are willing to treat each other as equals and are able to become brothers with the other people inside of the chapter.
The term IGAS was one created by the Jew Crew which stands for I Give A Sh*t. During many meetings when serious business was needed to be done, one of the members would interrupt with this term in order to distract the other members of the crew.
The Jew Crew was a very important part of the chapter because they forced the chapter to work to try to make them happy. Because they were so difficult to work with, it made the chapter work harder during its first year of existence by planning creative and fun programs so the Jew Crew would be appreciative. Even though most of the members did not return for the second year of Melech, it was the hard work that we had modeled to attract the Jew Crew which helped to attract other members who would actually appreciate AZA and Melech.
The First Programs
As a way to raise money for the chapter, we had planned to hold a Bowl-a-thon at Twinbrook Bowling Alley. With only our chapter in attendance, we tried to receive money through donations by parents in proportion to the scores we received while bowling. The program had a very low attendance, mainly because it was the first program and most people were not used to the idea of a chapter yet. Only five dollars was raised.
The first social program that the chapter had planned was a regressive dinner held first at Bryan Ackerman's house, where dessert was served, then Steve Lightman's house, where dinner was served, then Howard Marans' house, for appetizers. The program was planned with N'shama BBG. This program was significant because it was really the first successful program. It also led to the large amount of programs planned with N'shama during the first term of existence.
Initiations, A Night To Forget
The first initiations were planned by Bryan Ackerman (Godol), Marc Kravitz (S'gan), and Greg Cypes (Moreh). The activity was planned in conjunction with N'shama BBG due to the lack of drivers in the chapter, however it was doomed before it began. The idea was that the chapter would learn to bond and act as a single unit, but as stated before, a large portion of the chapter did not feel the need to become one with the rest of the chapter. The three leaders planned that the group of AITs would go to Montgomery Mall and be involved in a scavenger hunt. Following the scavenger hunt, the group would meet at Wootton High School, and then go back to Bryan Ackerman's house. There the group was subdivided and brought out on a trust walk, which explained the founding and significance of AZA.
The program however did not go as planned. Before it started, Greg Cypes called to announce he was grounded and could not attend. However, the chapter pressed on. The members all came and we proceeded to the mall. While there, a very small amount of the AIT class participated in the program, many just wandered the mall until we reconvened. The group then proceeded to the high school and then back to Bryan Ackerman's house. During the trust walk, the AIT s did not allow the program to proceed as planned. They became very difficult and hard to handle. Finally Bryan blew up and became extremely angry with the chapter. Larry Casper helped to maintain some order and also to calm Bryan down. However, Bryan remained to be enraged. He proceeded to put on an Einstein AZA jersey (which was his former chapter) and wore it throughout a Good and Welfare to show spite from all the work he had put into the chapter. Following the Good and Welfare, the group began to understand his frustrations, and the coed sleep over to follow was fun.
The first initiations was the lowest point in Melech AZA s history. During it, the members showed a lack of respect towards people who worked hard to try to make something that they would enjoy. However, the leaders also were wrong to become so enraged. This program was the only time in Melech history where a program failed so miserably.
Final Words From The First Term
The First Term of Melech AZA was one that was not very easy. Although membership rates increased very quickly, there were several low points within the chapter. Marc Kravitz was forced to resign his position as Aleph S'gan about three fourths into the term due to personal problems, but was replaced by Barry Engel. Barry used his creativity to help plan some very impressive, and innovative programs.
Bryan Ackerman used much of his strength to keep the chapter together, and would not allow it to fall apart. Much of what this chapter stands for and what it is came directly from Bryan. During his first term as Godol, he planned most of the chapter s programs, and also trained the members the ways of the Aleph Zadik Aleph. While Aleph Godol of Melech, many described Bryan to be anal retentive, but he made sure things were done correctly so the chapter could continue to grow in the right direction. Toward the end of the term, Bryan had doubts whether or not to run for office for a second time, however, many pleaded with him to do so. He made the decision to run, and did so unopposed.
Melech hit a few milestones during its first term. The chapter sent two members, Bryan Ackerman and Howard Marans to the Regional Leadership Conference in 1994. The chapter also had six members attend the Regional Convention that year. Unfortunately, the chapter did not win a single football game that season.
The Second Elections
Elections were held a second time on a Sunday evening at Marcus Hillman s house. The intention was that more members of the Jew Crew would attend by having elections in their neighborhood. Attendance was a problem though, and it took much strain to get a quorum of members to come. Finally when a quorum was achieved, the elections were allowed to proceed.
The number of officers elected to office was significantly reduced from the large executive board of the first term. It was decided the amount of officers were too much to handle and was reduced to five members. Bryan Ackerman was reelected as Aleph Godol and Aaron Jeweler was elected Aleph S'gan.
The Second Term: January 1995 - April 1995
To be continued...
The second term was very similar to the first term. Bryan Ackerman had learned much from his mistakes from his first term as Aleph Godol. Instead of catering to the Jew Crew, focus was made more on the dedicated members who would contribute back to the chapter. More new members began to join, especially as eighth graders were allowed to become part of the chapter. Many innovative programs were initiated, and most of the programs which became award winners at the 1995 D.C. Council Awards Night were planned during this term.
In Moishe's Cafe, a program planned by Bryan Ackerman and Aaron Jeweler, the chapter served an elegant dinner to the members of Achshav BBG. It was due to this program that the sister chapter of Melech shifted from N'shama BBG to Achshav BBG. The chapter served dinner then held a kareoke night. The program was held at Aaron Jeweler's house, as were many other programs during the second term.
The chapter also held it s first Family Friday Night Service at Greg Culver s house during the second term. Bryan Ackerman conducted the services, but many parents contributed dishes to the dinner. Many parents really enjoyed attending and reciprocated by showing praise towards the accomplishments the chapter had achieved.
It was also during the second term when the chapter held its first Five Fold Program. The program was held at Aaron Jeweler's house, and was planned mostly by Bryan Ackerman. It was this night when Ryan Saltzman introduced the song Cotton Eye Joe to the chapter, which it quickly embraced as the chapter song.
Many members became active due to the program called Mardi Gras. Planned by Bryan Ackerman in conjunction with Achshav BBG, the program was held at the Veirs Mill Recreation Center. It was basically a dance with various party games, like girls sucking water out of baby bottles carefully placed between guys legs. The program was a very large success and attracted many more members to the chapter. Mardi Gras and Moishe's Cafe also provided the chapter to gain the respect of the other chapters in the council.
As an alternative to a chapter convention that year, Barry Engel planned a trip to Paramount's Kings Dominion. This type of convention was desired by the members for the first year because there were no seniors who deserved to be extended lifetime membership, even under the lax terms stated in the first constitution. Melech invited Ahavah BBG to come along, and the program was very fun.
Who should we invite?
Because of the strength in programming, many chapters were very interested in programming with Melech during its second term. The creativity put forth by Bryan Ackerman and Aaron Jeweler helped to provide a mold of what good programming should come from this chapter. The second term added to Melech's popularity.
With the chapter becoming a powerhouse in programming, the chapter began to compete heavily with Einstein AZA, the top chapter of the time in the council. The competitiveness with Einstein was largely due to it being Bryan Ackerman s former chapter, and he felt that everything had to become better than them. Programming of course excelled, but our basketball team, however did not, even though weekly practices were held at Jones Lane Elementary School. As it came closer to the D.C. Council Awards Night, it became apparent that the chapter actually had a chance of winning the Best Chapter Award in the council.
D.C. Council Awards Night 1995
The Awards Night held in May, 1995 was also a special night for Melech AZA. The chapter won many awards for its excellence in programming. The chapter also won the Most Improved Chapter Award, and was deemed its permanent charter by the International Order. Chapter Aleph Godol Bryan Ackerman was also awarded the Greg S. Kedan Award for his exemplary leadership.
The chapter had members attend other Council programs during this second term. Many members went to Council Kallah and Convention. Bryan Ackerman was elected D.C. Council Aleph Godol during the 1995 D.C. Council Convention due in large part from his leadership as Aleph Godol of Melech.
Melech won several International Awards at the Aleph Zadik Aleph International Convention in 1995. The chapter won the prestigious Henry Monsky All Around Chapter Award. It also became a member of Club 35 and the $250 Club.
The third elections were held at Jordy Klinger's house in part to cater to the Jew Crew so a quorum could be achieved. Held late on a Saturday night after two other programs, the members were very restless at the time of elections. Marc Kravitz won the position of Aleph Godol and Barry Engel won as Aleph S'gan.
Elections ran very smoothly, however it was afterwards which had many problems. Some members were disappointed from not winning positions in the chapter and caused a ruckus while others tried to sleep. Some members took matters in their own hands, which led to a couple people to leave in frustration after a minor rumble.
The First State of the Chapter
Held at Jared Bellman's house, the first State of the Chapter Address was given by Bryan Ackerman on June 4,1995. Following the speech, the new officers were ceremonially installed into their positions. The elected officers were actually installed into office directly following elections by motion in order to relieve Bryan from his position as Aleph Godol. This action was done so he could fulfill his duties to the D.C. Council immediately. The tradition of poling was also introduced to the chapter. Both Bryan Ackerman (former Godol) and Marc Kravitz (Godol) were poled, and Marc was also thrown into the pool.
The Third Term: April 1995 - January 1996
Anal Warts Are Cool?
Marc Kravitz, Melech's second Aleph Godol, was lucky enough to lead the chapter through many of its high points. Following Bryan s lead, Marc used many of his leadership techniques, which also caused him to get deemed as anal. Is perfectionism so bad though, because as Bryan had done before, Marc wanted to make sure everything in the chapter was perfect. With that, things did run smoothly. The Jew Crew became inactive, but others filled in their spots, with the exception that they were all enthusiastic members.
The team of Marc and Barry Engel (S'gan) was also a combination that could not be beat. Barry, being the most random person on the face of the earth, and Marc being his straight man, allowed for some excellent programs to be planned inside the chapter.
The Sweetest Heart Of Them All
During the first year of existence, the position of sweetheart had very little to do with the chapter, and played a very minor role. However, things changed during the third term. Sweetheart elections were very creative and funny, with the combination of Barry Engel's (S'gan) randomness, Bryan Ackerman's (Kohane Godol) goofiness, and Marc Kravitz's (Godol) silliness.
Candidates for the position were brought in one by one and were asked strange and funny questions. Props were sometimes used, like how fast the candidate could put a condom on a enormous cucumber. When it boiled down to it, the elections were very tight, and came down to a coin toss. Bryan Ackerman called heads; tails came up and Jackie Wolfson was elected the chapter sweetheart.
In most chapters, just like as in the first year, the sweetheart plays a very small role in the chapter. Usually it is expected but with Jackie Wolfson as sweetheart, deviation was indeed possible. Jackie became very active within Melech. She either baked or brought candy to every meeting held. She also attended most chapter programs, unless there was a large conflict with her own chapter (Achshav BBG). Jackie was an exemplary chapter sweetheart who showed as much dedication in the chapter as the members itself. Jackie also helped to contribute more to the oneness felt by Achshav BBG and Melech, helping them to become closer brother and sister chapters.
The Fall Lineup: The Programs of the Third Term
Melech started up right where it left off a year ago with the most creative programs in the council. This was highlighted with our kickoff event the No one here to impress social planned by Bryan Ackerman (Kohane Godol). During this program Melech members definitely showed that they have no one to impress. Members dressed in pajamas, sweatpants and wore the most outrageous attire such as Barry Engel's (S'gan) paper reinforcements.
The programming didn t stop as Melech went shopping at the mall with N shama BBG in a very creative scavenger hunt planned by Ryan Lowe (Moreh) and Laurie Reese. BBYOers journeyed through the mall searching for clues to answer the puzzling questions. The program was highlighted by an unexpected snow storm at it s conclusion which stranded many members at peoples houses until the next day.
The creative mind of Barry Engel (S'gan) went to work again when Melech and Ahavah BBG participated in I ve got the chills. The intention of this was to get the best of both worlds, the sensations of hot and cold. Therefore, we started our evening off at the Cactus Grill where we sat down to a great Mexican meal. This was then followed up by a session of ice skating at the Cabin John Ice Rink.
In this term Melech was also able to branch out to the rest of Northern Region East when it participated in a Regressive Dinner in Northern Virginia. The chapters which participated were Melech and Bisno AZA and Hagannah and Masada BBG. This program was great in allowing our chapter to meet the other great part of N.R.E. It was highlighted with Aleph Matt Maarec (Dovair) getting his car stuck in the mud.
Third Term Highlights
The strong presence of Melech AZA was extremely evident in this term as we asserted our place in the council for many years to come. This was highlighted with our participation in the various Regional and Council programs. This was first shown in late October as Melech sent alephs Barry Engel, Steven Lightman, Ryan Lowe and Adam Kravitz to N.R.E.'s Young Leadership Weekend. Melech also had a strong showing at D.C. Council s annual Sweetheart/Heartthrob Dance in late November with over twenty members participating. The highlight of the evening was Ryan Saltzman being announced as Heartthrob of N'Shama BBG. He was the first official Heartthrob to be selected from Melech. Melech's presence in the region was definitely felt at N.R.E. s annual Regional Convention in Ocean City, MD. Melech tied for the most AZA participants with 12 attending. Melech s brotherhood was very apparent as members wore chapter jersey s to all functions and showed much chapter spirit.
The Next Generation
The success of Melech couldn t have been possible without a new generation of leadership which emerged throughout this third term. This was lead by Ryan Lowe (Moreh), David Rubin (Mazkir) and Ryan Saltzman (Gizbor). Ryan Lowe was elected as Aleph Moreh due to Aaron Jeweler's resignation of the office. Though their duties were not always completed, they set an example for the arising freshmen. BBYO became so popular with this group of youngsters that attendance at programs was always high throughout the third term.
Even though it seemed that on the outside this term was one of the best ever, it did have it s flaws. One main problem emerged in the middle of the term which dealt with respect. Marc Kravitz (Godol) and Barry Engel (S'gan) worked extremely hard and sacrificed a lot of their spare time throughout the term to make Melech the best chapter in the council. Unfortunately, their efforts were usually disregarded as they continued to receive a minimal amount of respect. This lack of respect was seen in many ways such as misbehaving in meetings or not acknowledging the work of Marc and Barry. Eventually this was discussed in a chapter meeting and the problem has been diminished. The lesson learned here was that your chapter members are your brothers and they should be treated accordingly with respect. The executive board is sacrificing their time and effort for the good of the chapter. They are not doing it for themselves but because the of love for AZA and therefore deserve the proper respect whether it be just sitting quietly in a meeting or saying a simple thank you.
Elections for the fourth term took place on January 15, 1996 at Eric Frank s house. This was a major turning point in Melech as members began to compete for the high offices in the chapter. Barry Engel was elected as the third Aleph Godol of Melech and Steven Lightman as Aleph S'gan.
The Fourth Term: January 1996-June 1996
Dynasty or Disaster?
The officers of the fourth term were installed at the States of Melech AZA in January of 1996. Aleph Godol Barry Engel and Aleph S'gan Steve Lightman, along with Aleph Moreh Marc Kravitz had potential to be an intriguing threesome and had the goal to push Melech over a somewhat icy bridge. This term would prove to be a very decisive term as far as the future of the chapter was concerned. Problems that existed still included lack of respect (especially at meetings), and somewhat of a fair-weather chapter as far as attendance went. Leadership was another thing that Melech was looking for, especially in newer members to preserve the chapter when the changing of the guard took place. Melech had definitely come into it s own as far as recognition but still had miles to travel. During the fourth term, Melech AZA began domination of the D.C. Council Aleph Zadik Aleph. With incredible brotherhood, chapter spirit and pride, and strong programming, the chapter flourished. The first sense of improvement came in numbers, literally. Tons of alephs packed the meetings and the programs, and the section of core members seemed to grow exponentially. Interest and attendance soared.
Melech AZA vs DC Council
At the pinnacle of the term, alephs in Melech were becoming in sync with the rest of the council as far as council programming and leadership was concerned. When addressing the table at council meetings, Aleph Godol Barry Engel felt a sense of pride in knowing he was backed with a solid mold of chapter mates. Members attended Regional Kallah for the first time and broke the AZA attendance mark. In a shocking turn of events, the Mighty Mohels a few weeks later took second place in the entire region at Regional Maccabiah, March 12, 1996, held at McDonough High School in Baltimore. Council Convention, coordinated by our own Aleph Moreh and Kohane Godol Marc Kravitz was mass attended . From April 28- 30, 1996, the alephs not only enjoyed themselves, but felt emersed and surrounded in a fraternal atmosphere. A point where little could stand in their way was emerging, and Melech once again was represented as Barry Engel was elected council Aleph Mazkir, ensuring that Melech would keep a lock around business sense and representation were concerned.
Melech AZA vs DC Council?
On May 22, 1996 Melech AZA was rewarded with several honors once again in programming at the Council Awards Night. That part was trivial, though, in comparison to shocking the packed Potomac Community Center when they were presented the most prestigious chapter award there is in the council: Outstanding Chapter of the Year. It was a testimony to their understanding of the great order and desire to succeed. Aleph Adam Kravitz also braced the audience in receiving a scholarship award (The David Medin Scholarship) to attend the International Leadership Camp in Hungary.
Dawns of Domination
There were many highlights in the fourth term. It was a term of relaxation as well as individual accomplishment. In March, a community service held dance entitled Club Moishe proved a huge success. Over 200 cans were collected and donated to the Stepping Stones Shelter in Rockville. Melech also continued to be invited to programs by the week. It still didn t stop them from hearing a speaker on Narcotics, or having a scavenger hunt and a video night co-planned by Aleph Mazkir Ryan Lowe and Herzl AZA. This began the formal attraction between the two chapters, at this point brother chapters, and sometimes referred to as Hermel AZA. The Narcotics program opened the ears of many and the path opened in the educational fold. The road scavenger hunt proved that the chapter could have just as great a time by themselves. In fact, on May 23, 1996, Melech celebrated it s 2nd birthday and cake was served. The cake made by Bryan Ackerman (Haver Sheli), might have been sweet, but not as sweet as the feeling of being two. Gliding along, mention should go out to Sweetheart Jackie Wolfson who nearly superseded her first term as Sweetheart and became a mommy figure to the alephs, as she became almost an active member.
Areas of Acupuncture
Looming weaknesses existed in the term. Most of them were same as old. Some of this was disappointing. For instance, the chapter only planned 3 programs the entire term excluding convention and the exec board proved still to be too top heavy. Respect was not reaching its destination, and it certainly did have one. It was not that the alephs did not have individual respect for each other, it was that no one would let anyone take center stage . Other than that, the problem was lack of overall initiative, creativity, and general apathy when it came to planning programs.
Top of the Mountain
In culmination to the term, Aleph Godol Barry Engel coordinated the chapter s first ever chapter convention. Well attended, this proved to be a confidence booster for the future of the chapter. With programs in every fold, Melech had the chance to positively reinforce their love for the chapter. Talkin About My Generation was the theme, and it was kicked off with a fashion show and a trivia game show about the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. A service was held, the first ever chapter newspaper was published, a domestic violence program took place, as well as the showing of Deep Space 9 to spark discussion of racism and contoversy. The first ever lifetimes were held, and alephs Bryan Ackerman and Marc Kravitz were extended lifetime membership. During the emotional ceremony the two alephs talked about cherished experiences and gave selected other the chance to reminisce. The next morning, elections were held and Ryan Lowe became the next Aleph Godol, with David Rubin becoming Aleph S'gan.
This text was apparently written by Bryan Ackerman and Marc Kravitz, and was given to us courtesy of Howard Marans.
(Taken from original website)