Perlman, Anita M.

From collection Person List

Perlman, Anita M.
After the establishment of Aleph Zadik Aleph, efforts began to create parallel organizations for young Jewish women. The first group emerged in Seattle in 1926 and another the next year in Newark; however, these groups soon dissolved. In December 1927, the first permanent chapter of what is now BBG was organized in San Francisco. Many other groups soon followed, each in response to local need, without any central structure or organization, although many were sponsored by B’nai B’rith Women, modeled after AZA, and divided into districts.

The appointment of Anita Perlman as chairwoman of B’nai B’rith Girls was a major step in bringing structure to the loosely organized chapters. She established channels of communication with the leaders of BBW and BBG and developed program resources for the various chapters. 

On April 22, 1944, BBG was officially established as an International Order. That same year, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization was created as an umbrella organization over both BBG and AZA.

Perlman aimed for BBG to be a place where Jewish girls could “find and express your Jewish identity, while expanding your circle of friends” and work “towards a better society and stronger Jewish community.” 

Her vision to build the largest organization of young Jewish women was accomplished, with thousands of thriving chapters across 50 different countries.

Although BBG was her main passion, Perlman was also involved with other philanthropic pursuits. She donated land for a campus of the Soref Jewish Community Center and worked to launch the March of Dimes’ Operation Stork, a program to educate young women about the importance of prenatal care. She donated time and money to many organizations, including the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Brandeis University, and Northwestern University. She embodied one of the things she often said: “You haven’t given enough until you’ve given more than you can afford to give.”

Perlman died in 1996 at the age of 90.
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