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BBYO Global Action Alert: Haiti Earthquake Response

January 26, 2010

Jewish Teens Gain Resources to Mobilize for Haiti Relief

BBYO Creates Haiti Disaster Relief T-Shirt in Partnership with Other Jewish Teen Organizations


The PANIM Institute of BBYO has created a "Teens United for Haiti" t-shirt, which features the Haitian Creole term for hope. The shirt, which will be sold in local communities as a fundraiser to benefit Haiti’s disaster relief, was created in partnership with more than a dozen organizations working with Jewish youth, such as NFTY, USY, NCSY, JSU and Repair the World.

Click here to request printer ready artwork to print the t-shirt for your local community.

Miami Event Featured in South Florida Sun Sentinel


Teens reach out to help Haiti

By Sergio Carmona, Staff Writer

February 2, 2010


From left, Scooley Aristil, 20, Micky Martin, 17, Harvel Das, 17, and Ashley Lieser, speak to teenagers at the Dave & Mary Alper Jewish Community Center during a benefit dinner for Haiti. (Janeris Marte, FPG / January 25, 2010)

Touched by the earthquake in Haiti, local Jewish teenagers attended B'nai B'rith Youth Organization's Miami Region's benefit dinner for people recovering from the tragedy at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center in Miami.

This event kicked off BBYO's partnership with Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services' Miami Refugee Youth and Family Program.

"Our teens really wanted to reach out to the local Haitian community and find out what the needs are," said Ben Rancman, BBYO's regional program director. "There's a sense that here in Miami there's a really tangible connection to Haiti because of the large Haitian community here so this event is really to establish people to people contact, to raise money for relief, and to certainly serve as our kick-off event to future Haiti relief."

During the event, three local Haitian teenagers spoke with BBYO participants about how the tragedy has affected them. It raised nearly $400 and the proceeds go towards Haiti relief through the auspices of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The Refugee Youth and Family program is providing critical assistance to the local Haitian community and Ashley Lieser, the program manager, said the event was a great encouragement for the Haitians.

"We're looking forward to partnering [with BBYO] and it's wonderful to see people reaching out and wanting to make an effort in Haiti and also here in Miami," she said.

Harvel Das, a North Miami Beach resident and Haitian teenager who's lived locally for three years, said the outpour of Jewish teenagers at the event meant a lot to him.

"You don't see this in other places," Das, 17, said. "It's a good thing. We get to know each other and tell each other's names. I think we should have this more often."

Das made a presentation during the dinner and said that living in Haiti was the best thing ever for him and that it was not much different than living here. He also said that poverty in Haiti didn't stop people from having fun. He offered the BBYO participants ways to help in their relief efforts such as sharing ideas with other people.

Leah Chakoff, BBYO's regional girls' president, commented on Das' presentation.

"Since he's from Haiti and he's experienced Haiti and has family members in Haiti it hits closer to my heart now because before it was just a distant country and now meeting with someone who's actually from Haiti is wonderful," she said.

Leading Disaster Relief Experts Rally for Teen Activism

Jewish teens from BBYO, Inc., the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish youth movement, are quickly mobilizing to support the relief efforts in Haiti. BBYO’s response centers mainly on creating a movement of Jewish teens who are educated about the situation and engaged in making a difference. Through the PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values of BBYO, teen leaders are gaining access to educational and Jewish values resources, dialoging with disaster relief experts as well as teen activists around the world, and directing local fundraising events to aid in relief.

BBYO’s Haiti disaster relief efforts include:

  • A conference call in partnership with Repair the World (RTW) featured keynote speakers Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service and Dr. Will Recant, Assistant Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The call, which was open to all Jewish teens, called for youth to become activists in their own communities, using days such as J-Serve, the national day of Jewish youth service in April, as a potential rallying and fundraising opportunity for Jewish youth on the cause. Other ideas shared included hosting prayer services, benefit dinners and focused fundraising efforts. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A RECORDING OF THE CALL.
  • The distribution of text study and program guides for Jewish teens to discuss the disaster and the Jewish community’s response to disasters throughout history (see below).
  • A Facebook group called “Support the Victims of the Haiti Earthquake!” gained more than 10,000 members within days of the disaster and has since proliferated with discussion and activism advice from peers to peers.
  • A t-shirt design open for all Jewish youth movements to unite around the cause together while raising money and awareness.
  • Several local BBYO fundraising events including a Benefit Dinner with Haitian citizens in Miami, Fla and a Disaster Relief Dance in Long Island, NY.

“On the call last week, all of the teens were shocked to learn that 50 percent of Haiti’s population is under the age of 18,” said Emily Trotz, BBYO’s International Teen President. “Those are the sorts of things we’ve been pointing out to Jewish youth around the world via Facebook. We have the capability to unite a movement of Jewish youth who care about Haiti relief.”

Letter from the Grand Aleph Godol and International N'siah

BBYO members, alumni, parents, family and friends –

The BBYO worldwide Jewish teen movement stands in solidarity with the people of Haiti dealing with the massive rescue and relief effort following this week’s devastating earthquake. The Torah teaches Lo Ta’amod al Dam Rei’echa – do not stand by while your neighbor bleeds (Leviticus 19).

The vision of our movement is to inspire teens to make a difference in the world and to promote leadership training, character development and Jewish values. We therefore commit ourselves to do our part personally and collectively in helping to save lives and alleviate the suffering in Haiti. We call upon all teens to take action in response to this disaster and to step forward as leaders during this time of great need.

BBYO has a close relationship with both the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the JDC, which coordinates The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, as well as American Jewish World Service. We are currently raising funds for each of their disaster relief campaigns. Both have the skills and capacity to move quickly and help people right away. JDC is supplying immediate medical aid, equipment, and services to victims of the earthquake through the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces and other relief organizations. They also work with local partners to provide emergency assistance. AJWS's long-standing partnerships in the region have enabled them to send funding directly to their grantees in hard-hit areas on the ground who have the knowledge and capacity to spend the money effectively where it is most immediately needed. We encourage all Jewish teens to give personally, to raise funds in their communities, and to encourage their friends and family and community to participate as well at or You can also make $10 donations by texting JDCHAITI to 85944 or “AJWS” to 25383.

Other action items include:

  • Reach out to Haitians in your local community. There are over 400,000 Haitians living in the United States. Be a good neighbor in this time of tragedy. Be in touch with your local Jewish Community Relations Council to see if they have contacts with the Haitian community (go to and click ‘Member Agencies’). Connect with local Churches or immigration and refugee agencies that work with the Haitian population.
  • Advocate for US Government relief aid. Visit to learn what steps the Federal Government is taking to assist in Haiti. Financial support and emergency supplies from the US are critical at this time. Urge your local Member of Congress or Senator to take a leadership stand on this issue.
  • Join the group on Facebook. Learn what teens around the world are doing in response to the crisis. Share ideas, strategies and reactions on what’s happening in your local community. Stay on top o the latest developments by joining the Facebook Group “Support the Victims of the Haiti Earthquake!”

At this time of extraordinary need, Jewish values compel us to take action. A 90-minute program exercise, developed by the American Jewish World Service, and expanded by BBYO’s PANIM Institute, is attached below to help educate teens and adults about the connection between values and action.

We will continue to monitor the situation and identify ways that we can further mobilize our teen movement to help.


Adam Bloom & Emily Trotz

Prayers for Haiti

BBYO International Office
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Washington, DC 20001
P: 202.857.6633 / F: 202.857.6568

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