The thrill of victory

The thrill of victory

The South Hills boys of BBYO, otherwise known as David Iszauk AZA Chapter #1938 (DI for short) have an informal and unofficial inside joke they like to use as a slogan when they meet: “We’re DI — wanna fight about it?”

“Fight about it” is exactly what they did, Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center while playing broomball with their peers for a fundraiser. These young men invited the other BBYO, Inc. male chapters (AZA) of Pittsburgh’s Keystone Mountain Region to join them on the ice for a $3 per point donation to Amy’s Army, eventually raising $99 for the worthwhile charity in just an hour in the rink.

“Everyone was really friendly and I felt like I was a part of the group even though I’ve only been to one or two events and I don’t know that many guys,” said DI member and freshman Ben Spock. “Plus, the money is going to a good cause and this was a fun way to raise it. Some of the guys had never heard of broomball before. It looked like they liked it too.”

Its second major event of the fall, DI decided to take a broomball social and incorporate additional BBYO programming folds of community service into the night.

Participants started a new week by beginning the evening with a havdala service, hosted by Fox Chapel’s Ruach AZA members Joe Schermer and Jeremy Witchel. Following that, they played broomball, listened to an after-game discussion, and laughed with each other at other inside jokes they created.

“It was really exhilarating, coming back and seeing these kids, remembering all the good times I had and now seeing my son experience the camaraderie that AZA brings, watching him have such a good time with boys from all around the city,” said guest chaperone and former Monroe AZA member Stuart Cohen. “You feel Jewish when you’re with these kids and, living in the suburbs, you don’t often get that feeling.”

Giving funding to causes is unquestionably a Jewish activity and Amy’s Army is the adopted chapter philanthropy of David Iszauk AZA, a group that renamed itself after the death of Pittsburgh native David Iszauk several years ago. It was his spirit of friendship, Jewish communal involvement, volunteerism, tzedaka and youth-led leadership development that inspired this group to take his legacy into their local identity.

According to Cohen, the boys take that legacy seriously.

“He [Iszauk] was as kind and as nice as can be, always willing to listen to your story and find out what’s going on in your life,” Cohen said. “He just gave a lot of his time and it’s so nice to see that that the kids are carrying on his legacy tonight with Amy’s Army.”

Amy’s Army is an organization founded by the family of Amy Katz. It strives to raise awareness, donor registrations and funding to help Amy — who was diagnosed with CML in 2003 — and all cancer sufferers find matching bone marrow donors. Amy is currently a 19-year-old college sophomore in remission, according to her mother, Lisa Katz.

“It just makes me smile to know they all want to help. We appreciate their support and it means a great deal to us,” Katz said of the DI program.

As well-rounded programs happen frequently all over Keystone Mountain Region and around the world for any interested Jewish teen, BBYO is proud to support important causes and the lessons learned from partnering with them.

Chapter leaders Ben Ruttenberg, Barry Snyder, Greg Bennett and Andrew Oleinick worked hard on its planning and we’re grateful to everybody who participated. Special thanks also go to the Park family for hosting the DI guys afterward for their first chapter overnight of the year.

For more information about BBYO activities, contact Keystone Mountain Regional Director Chuck Marcus at or (412) 421-2626. To learn more about Amy’s Army, visit

(Amy Dicker is an advisor to the David Iszauk chapter of AZA.)