Mezistrano is elected BBYO’s 100th Grand Aleph Godol

MIHS senior is a key member of pluralistic Jewish teen movement.

Four years ago, Daniel Mezistrano recalls perusing a lengthy list of Grand Aleph Godols in the back of a leadership manual for the BBYO, the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement.

The Mercer Island resident had commenced his membership with the BBYO’s Evergreen Region the previous year as an eighth-grader and was keenly interested in who those international presidents were dating back to 1924. After Mezistrano’s cousin filled him in on the lofty and vital position, the youngster wanted in.

“It just sounded like the most incredible opportunity in the world to me and it was such a pipe dream back in freshman year,” said Mezistrano, who began working diligently midway through his sophomore year at Mercer Island High School (MIHS) to someday achieve the goal of becoming a Grand Aleph Godol.

He’s made it.

Last month, the 18-year-old MIHS senior attained that leadership role when he was elected as the 100th Grand Aleph Godol at BBYO’s Centennial International Convention 2024 in Orlando, Florida.

Mezistrano said that BBYO is a teen-led, staff-assisted movement that reaches 75,000 teens across 63 countries: “I have always been very vocal about my support for Israel and kind of combating antisemitism, and so I’m really excited to kind of have this platform to be able to continue using my voice and inspiring teens to stand up and combat that hatred that we’re facing.”

Throughout his time in the leadership realm of BBYO, Mezistrano said he’s gained confidence, courage and team management and collaboration skills while working on various boards and committees that feature people of all genders, ages and backgrounds. He’s connected with members from all over the world, including his co-president Joelle Abaew from BBYO ZWST in Germany.

The newest Grand Aleph Godol will begin his yearlong term on June 1, taking a gap year between high school graduation and college, and is ecstatic to further consult with teens and BBYO leaders in making some change in the world during his travels throughout the United States and the world.

“I’ll work alongside those counterparts to ensure that BBYO is alive and thriving and building in all of their communities,” said Mezistrano, who will serve on the 12-member international teen board. “I really want to work with teens and staff to find the balance on where teens can be stepping up and doing more and taking on more leadership roles to get more of that experience that will help them later in life.”

Mezistrano can act as a role model for others, just as his strong family members and leaders provided guidance throughout his life and when he joined BBYO. Two of his cousins and an uncle all served BBYO as regional presidents.

Evergreen Regional Director Carly Sokoloff said that Mezistrano is one of copious resilient, passionate, intelligent and hard-working teenagers who are engaged in the BBYO movement.

“I know that with Dan’s passion for Israel, leadership, community, teaching the importance of combating antisemitism, and more, the International Order is in the absolute best hands. BBYO is the luckiest to have him,” she said in a press release.

The meticulous election process featured essay writing, interviews and filling out surveys leading up to election day at the convention, which occurred from Feb. 14-19. After answering questions on the spot and giving a prepared four-minute speech, the electoral body voted Mezistrano to take the helm of Grand Aleph Godol.

Mezistrano feels that through BBYO, he can help Jewish teens stand up, band together and speak out loudly against hate.

“Teens have just as much access to all of the resources and things to be able to educate themselves and speak out against these issues and it’s really just about finding that courage and finding that passion to go out and speak up,” he said.

For more information about BBYO in the Evergreen Region, visit or contact

Daniel Mezistrano, middle, stands with the full board at the recent BBYO Centennial International Convention 2024 in Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy of BBYO

Daniel Mezistrano, middle, stands with the full board at the recent BBYO Centennial International Convention 2024 in Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy of BBYO