Parent Pulse

Parent Pulse is a bi-monthly newsletter for BBYO member parents to help keep up to date with goings on across the Order. For nearly a century, parents have trusted us to provide a safe space in which their teens can thrive, and Parent Pulse offers an insider’s glimpse into those spaces every other month. Take a look through our past issues here!

Issue 3 | January 2020

Welcome Note | Around the Order | Wellness Corner | Trending Now | Coming Up Soon | Jewishly Speaking


Hello, 2020! When I began my career with BBYO almost two decades ago, I didn’t fully understand how much of an impact this organization has in the lives of Jewish teens throughout the world. Even though I grew up as a BBG in Central Region West, it didn’t occur to me that the skills I learned as chapter vice president of membership and programming would continue to influence me twenty years later.

BBYO is so much more than a youth group. It is an organization built on friendship, leadership, opportunity, dedication, and enrichment experiences that shape the confidence and character of thousands of Jewish teens.  When I reflect on the connections I made as a teen and the mentorship and guidance I received from staff and advisors in my region, only then do I realize how brightly the Jewish passion has been lit inside of me.

Now, as a parent, I see it even more. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experiences my son has had in BBYO through his chapter, at community programs like Global Shabbat, and at weekend conventions with friends across our region. His confidence and curiosity are stronger because of his BBYO experience. When I think about his place in the Jewish community, I know that his participation in service opportunities, the leadership skills he’s gained from programming, and his desire to be with other Jewish teens are because of his time in BBYO. I couldn’t be more thankful to this organization for the impact it’s had on us, and as always, I am thankful that your family is a part of our BBYO family now, too!

Jayme David
Vice President, Community Engagement



T-Shirt Design Contest | This November, we launched a design contest, #TshirtsHappenHere, to give creatively inclined teens the chance to design the latest BBYO apparel. Building off the BBYO International Convention (IC) 2020 theme, Tomorrow Happens Here, the winning submission will be featured at the summer t-shirt booth at IC this February. We were so glad to be able to offer this opportunity for aspiring graphic designers to showcase their talents and build their portfolios, and all members got to vote for the winner among our three finalists. Keep a look out for the winning design in the next few days!

Global Shabbat 2019 | Global Shabbat is undoubtedly one of our most meaningful annual events. In December, communities all around the world held special Shabbat celebrations and came together around the theme of “With All Our Might,” with programs highlighting the strength Shabbat gives to our communities. Twenty-eight countries across the globe united to celebrate—you can check out some exciting highlights in our official press release. We hope you we able to get involved in your own community, and be sure to keep an eye out for a celebration near you in December 2020!

Ambassadors to Ukraine | Our recent Ambassadors to Ukraine mission was a transformative, week-long trip taken by a delegation of 20 North American BBYO teens to learn about the Jewish history in the region. They also got to bond with teens from Active Jewish Teens (AJT), BBYO’s movement partner in the former Soviet Union. They spent the first few days in the city of Kiev, exploring both cultural sites and historical Jewish locations, including the Chernobyl Museum and Kiev Halom JCC. Then they moved outside of the city for the sixth annual AJT International Convention. They joined with over 600 Jewish teens from the FSU for programming, Jewish ritual, and the election of their next teen board. It was a special moment of cross-cultural connection and celebration.



In December, Time magazine announced its “Person of the Year,” Greta Thunberg. The announcement was accompanied by a mock-up of the cover, and what caught my eye was not the imposing picture but was the subtitle, “The Power of Youth.” Oftentimes we spend so much time thinking, worrying, and even obsessing over the schedules and challenges of adolescence that we forget about the transformative power of this time in a young person’s life.

In adolescence, youth are deepening passions, discovering their voices, and finding their why. They are building complex reasoning skills, challenging authority, and establishing independence. Today’s teens are drinking less, smoking less, and overall taking less risks than previous generations.1 They are starting movements, advocating for their own safety, and changing the conversation on the world stage. Greta Thunberg is not the only model of the power of youth—from the Parkland students who built advocacy out of tragedy, to teen walkouts organized to advocate for better pay for teachers, gun violence, and global warming, to BBYO’s own teens who take on Stand UP causes and leadership positions because they want to make BBYO and the world a better place. In the media and in our everyday lives we are seeing teens realize and harness their power and ability to make change.

There are real challenges that come with this period in a teen’s life, and we know that there are real struggles for our teens today. Seven-in-ten teens say that anxiety and depression are major problems among their peers.2 Use of marijuana and vaping, both nicotine and marijuana, has increased significantly over the last few years.3 Despite all of this, a majority of teens still make it through adolescence with little difficulty, and learn and grow from the stress and challenges they face. Our role as mentors, educators, and parents is to help steward them through this immensely powerful and daunting time in their lives.

It is our role to help them to build their resilience and provide safe spaces to explore their identity and passions. To support and empower them as they change their appearance, try on different opinions, and develop their sense of self. To comfort and guide them through the challenges, and to help them to grow and learn from failure.

It is normal to worry about our teens; however, when I look at the cover of Time and see the teens in BBYO, I cannot help but be inspired for the future. There is passion to make the world better and to make change. They are fighting to have their voices heard and to assert their growth and independence. As a new year begins, I hope that among the worry, we can all find time to see the strength and power in our teens.

Have questions or want to talk more? As always, we are here for you. Reach out to us, Drew or Ari, at [email protected] and [email protected].


1 “Today’s Teens _____ Less Than You Did,” accessed on December 19,2019.
2 “The concerns and challenges of being a U.S. teen: what the data show,” accessed on December 19, 2019.
3 Ibid.




  1. Vegan shoes could be the next big sustainable trend in 2020 | Young consumers are already fueling the fake meat industry, but their meatless cravings could expand to plant-based sneakers as the eco-friendly footwear trend grows. Nike has a “100% organic” Air Max, and Reebok will release their new vegan running shoe next fall as part of the brand’s attempt to offer more products with less waste. Gen Z and Millennials are “the primary consumers of athletic footwear” and it’s been reported that at least 35% of them would be willing to pay more for a sustainably made shoe.

  2. It’s all about The Mandalorian | With the recent launch of Disney+, the Star Wars series The Mandalorian is already a viral hit—thanks to Baby Yoda. The Internet fell in love with the character, making him the star of memes and fan posts across social media. The undeniable cuteness of tiny Yoda is clearly universally appealing, which left fans asking one question: where are the Baby Yoda toys and tees? Interestingly, Disney announced in late November that Baby Yoda merchandise would be in stores just in time for the holidays. It turns out they held back on releasing the in-demand product to keep spoilers from hitting fans too soon.

  3. Do teens appreciate the value of an undergraduate degree? | This year, a massive college admissions scandal made headlines as wealthy parents were caught bribing their kids’ way onto campuses. For the already skeptical Gen Z, their takeaway may have been that yet another once-trusted institution is a scam. To add fuel to the fire, college tuition has skyrocketed: private university tuition and fees have increased 26% over the last ten years, and public college costs climbed 35% in the same period. A college education is now one of the biggest expenses Gen Z will have in their lifetimes—so do they still feel this milestone in education is worth it? For the middle and high school students of today, interest in college stems from increasing their earning potential and expanding their career options. While location and tuition costs are the top attributes they are considering, many are also looking at safety considerations when choosing a college—this generation has grown up with school safety on their minds, with shooting drills a reality and gun control a concern, and it’s potentially impacting the choices they make for their future.



BBYO International Convention 2020 | We’re gearing up for our biggest and best International Convention (IC) yet! We hope your teen is planning to join us this President’s Day weekend in Dallas, Texas, and here are some exciting updates and ways to get involved:

  • We’re thrilled to share that we’ll be having the most-ever pre-convention enrichment opportunities, will 10 total Pre-IC Summits being held, including our inaugural Spanish Immersion Summit. Teens can explore everything from brand marketing, to song leading, to sports leadership, and more.

  • Parents can follow along with all the excitement of IC through our livestream broadcast on Facebook, the dedicated IC blog on our website, and via our social media channels, all planned and executed by our teen press corps.

  • Are you or someone you know in the Dallas area? We have countless ways for adults to experience the magic of IC through volunteer posts, international hosting opportunities, and teen wellness team opportunities. Visit the IC website to learn more!

Summer 2020 | It may be cold right now, but we’re deep into planning for enriching and fun Summer Leadership Experiences. These are the best way to set any teen on a path of confidence, friendship, and leadership for life, and if you’re considering one for your teen this summer, we want to make sure you have all the info you need:

  • Programs—Our members-only programs pair the values of AZA and BBG—leadership, service, brotherhood and sisterhood—with the best of camp—athletics, swimming, electives, and fun in the sun—for a one-of-a-kind experience. Learn more about CLTC, ILTC, International Kallah, and ILSI, to see which one is the best fit for your teen!

  • Scholarship—The scholarship application deadline is January 23. We have need-based funds available as well as information about additional scholarship on our website.

  • Seeking Camp Nurses—We’re hiring personable, dynamic nurses to join our incredible summer team (and get a discount on their teen’s summer registration!). Camp nurses support teens onsite with daily challenges and assist with ongoing medical needs. Short sessions are available, and room/board and travel is all covered.



Jewishly Speaking features a thought from a member of our Jewish Enrichment team. This issue’s message comes from Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, Director of Jewish Enrichment.

As we’ve just completed what we hope were joyful holiday celebrations, it might be nice to take a moment to examine the reason for the holiday of Hanukkah. There seem to ben three distinct reasons cited:

  1. When the Greeks entered the sanctuary of the Temple, they defiled all of the oil. When the Maccabees overpowered them, they searched but could find only one cruse, containing sufficient oil to kindle the Menorah for just one day. A miracle occurred and they were able to light with it for eight days. (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21b)

  2. Although the Greek army was far greater in numbers and strength, the Maccabean forces were able to miraculously win the war and liberate the Jewish people. (Al HaNissim, prayer recited on Hanukkah)

  3. After the war, the Jewish people removed the alters to idolatry that had been established, reclaimed the Temple, and rededicated it for sacred service and expression. (Book of Maccabees II, 10:1-8)

Which one of these is the real Hanukkah miracle? Which of these miracles should form the core of our Hanukkah celebration?

As parents, we understand that our children are not static creatures; rather, they change almost daily. Along with their changing perspectives, the language and reference points for their Judaism must change as well. When we engage with our younger children, a more simplistic and rudimentary approach to their Judaism is warranted and a conversation about a miraculous jar of oil will arouse their excitement and youthful passion for the holiday.

As our children grow, they often become less fascinated by the supernatural and more interested in history and science—things that they can see or comprehend. At this age, a Hanukkah centered around a military victory will talk to them far more than a miraculous jar of oil. While our victory was illogical and certainly not anticipated, it gives growing minds a comprehensible and understandable “miracle” to celebrate.

Finally, as our children become teenagers searching for self-identity and exploring social justice, a new theme of Hanukkah will resonate with them. A holiday where we celebrate our religious freedom and our right to worship in a newly sanctified Temple becomes a “miracle” very much worth celebrating, especially at a time when religious freedoms and liberties are not universally assured.


ANNOUNCING The BBYO Parent Education Webinar Series

Beginning in March 2020, we will be offering on ongoing series of online classes geared toward parents of teens and delivered by experts in the field of adolescent wellness. Save the date for our first class:

March 4, 2020 at 8 PM EST
Stress and Resilience: Why Stress is Good for Teens
Dr. Deborah Gilboa

With stress on the rise during this phase of life, we are often concerned for teens' wellbeing. Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine, internationally known youth development and Resilience Expert, and mom of four Jewish teens Deborah Gilboa, MD (Dr. G) will teach you how to use stress intentionally to strengthen teens and teach them to keep themselves safe as they grow towards adulthood.

Webinar access URL
Password: 736158


Know a Jewish teen who should join BBYO? Tell us who they are, and we’ll reward you both with some awesome gifts as our way of saying “thanks”!

Refer a Teen