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Sam Beber Dead at 75

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Funeral services were held today for Sam Beber at Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, Nebraska, a congregation he founded and served as its first president. Beber, who started the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, the largest teenage movement in the world, died last Wednesday in Chicago of pneumonia. He would have been 76 years old next month.

In 1924, Beber, then 22 and a Magna Cum Laude graduate, of Creighton University’s Law School, organized Aleph Zadik Aleph as a boys group in his native Omaha, utilizing the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet as a counterpoint to Greek-letter fraternities.

Two years later, Beber serving as the youngest member of B’nai B’rith’s national board, persuaded the organization to assume sponsorship of the program which, with a girls counterpart added in 1944, currently, enrolls more than 40,000 youngsters in its activities,

Some 650,000 youngsters have participated in the program since its founding and Beber took pride in the subsequent professional and public achievements of many of its “alumni.” An AZA distinguished Alumnus Award named for Beber is presented each year.

One of Beber’s earliest disciples whom he enrolled in AZA was Philip M. Klutznick, later to serve as B’nai B’rith president and as U.S. Ambassador to the UN. They became brothers-in-law and business partners in the creation of Forest Park, III., a model for planned communities. The pioneer development, begun in 1946, is now a city of 50,000.

Beber had been active with many civic and philanthropic organizations. He served on the national boards of the Boy Scouts and the Jewish Welfare Board, and the United Jewish Appeal. He had also headed Omaha’s Federation for Jewish Service. A recent major gift by Beber enabled B’nai B’rith to establish a summer youth camp in Wisconsin this year. It will be named the B’nai B’rith Beber Camp.

Founding Funders

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  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund