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 9 | January 2021

Welcome Note | Around the Order | Wellness Corner | Trending Now | Coming Up Soon | In Their Words


Dear Parents,

Today we celebrate the holiday of Tu B’shvat, the “New Year of the Trees,” now most frequently celebrated as a holiday that brings ecological awareness, which reminds us that all living things require energy to thrive.

Living Jewishly and observing Judaism means that you are constantly balancing challenges with triumph. Though during Rosh Hashanah we celebrate creation, at Tu B’shvat we celebrate renewal with the conclusion of one agricultural year and the beginning of the next for Israel’s farmers. It signals a shift of seasons and a reminder that no season is everlasting. In the book of Ecclesiastes, we are reminded that “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; it hurries back to where it rises...”

As we are closing in on a year into the global pandemic, we simply cannot ignore how it has dramatically impacted each and every one of us. While in the midst of figuring out the creative calculus for how we can continue to interact with one another and nurture relationships, we may quickly forget to nurture ourselves. Let us consider how to sustain and renew our fuel and our teens’ fuel during this season and the next.

This year we will celebrate the changing of seasons and renew our energy and our commitment to our mission during our Movement’s International Convention. With this year’s IC being offered digitally, we are able to reach and unite Jewish teens worldwide with inspiring leaders, powerful educators, and exciting influencers unlike any time before. We are humbled and inspired—knowing that thousands of teens around the globe will join us for moments of connectivity through Leadership Labs, J-Lab workshops, and prayer, and we can hardly wait to witness thousands of Havdalah candles across multiple screens, shining in unity and celebration.

May this new season be a strong and fruitful one for BBYO, with branches that provide continuous growth in communities around the world and roots that keep us grounded in our mission, history, and legacy.

Liron Lipinsky
Associate Vice President, Jewish Enrichment



Summer Availability Alert | We're hard at work crafting our Summer 2021 Experiences to make sure they are safe, healthy, enriching, and fun. We know your teen is seeking a summer of renewal: Renewed connections for them and their friends, a renewed sense of community and Jewish identity, and a renewed desire for exploration and growth. Some of our programs are now on a wait list, so we encourage families to save their spot now. Explore our leadership and camp experiences like CLTC, ILTC, International Kallah, Movement Makers, Camp BBYO, or check out our BBYO Passport travel programs to lock in your risk-free registration (fully refundable through March 2!) and give your teen the summer they deserve.

Join Our Summer Staff Team | Summer opportunities aren't just for teens! BBYO is hiring nurses, wellness administrators, social workers, and office staff to support residential summer leadership programs. As an additional benefit, parents who work with our teens receive a discount for their child’s summer program enrollment. Check out the opportunities open to you and reach out to [email protected] with any questions.



Parents are invited to join the fun at BBYO International Convention 2021 at two special events!

Saturday, February 13 at 6:30 PM ET
BBYO Havdalah

Sunday, February 14 at 12:00 PM ET
How to Consider Jewish Life in College Choice

BBYO Alumni Across Campuses Share Their Experience & Tips for Parents to Help Their Teens Find a College That Fits

These IC experiences are open to all BBYO parents, and there is no cost to attend. To read more about these programs and to register, please click here.



Training Teen Advocates to Help Themselves—and Their Peers
By Drew Fidler, Director, BBYO Center for Adolescent Wellness

Over the past year of disruption and isolation, BBYO has seen the incredible ways teens have stepped up to support one another. Some teens have reached out to BBYO staff to get help for friends experiencing suicidal thoughts, struggling with anxiety, or harming themselves. Others have created virtual programs for their peers on mental health and wellness to teach healthy coping skills. Teen-led support networks have even emerged on BBYO’s On Demand platform, bringing peers together to talk about issues of loneliness and grief.

In an effort to better understand teen mental health needs (especially as they might be changing as a result of the pandemic) and how we can support them, BBYO recently conducted a survey. When asked teens who they seek support from when stressed, anxious, or experiencing challenges; 79 percent of teens responded that they seek out their friends first, followed by 64 percent who turn to family members. But the drop-off after that is huge—only 22 percent of teens turn to mental health or medical professionals and a mere one percent seek out clergy. Most concerning, however, is that 11 percent said they had no one to turn to.

What this tells us is that teens are overwhelmingly seeking out their peers in difficult times, and that their peers, in turn, have a tremendous opportunity to intervene. As a result, BBYO will start to engage teens as Peer Advocates so that they can recognize red flags and know what to do when they see them. Utilizing Teen Mental Health First Aid, BBYO will be assembling a group of teens who can identify early warning signs and know where to turn for help for themselves and their peers. We will equip them with the knowledge and skills to foster their own wellness, support their peers, and deepen their learning with experts in the field of adolescent mental health and resiliency.

We look forward to partnering with parents and families in this important effort, which is part of BBYO’s three-pronged organizational approach to prioritizing and supporting teen mental health and wellness. You can read more about this in our recently published article, Where Do Teens Turn for Support and What Does it Mean for Those Who Want to Help Them, in eJewish Philanthropy.



In this edition of Trending Now, we’re updating you on some unexpected bright spots from 2020, young consumers’ financial priorities, and emerging marketing trends that may impact millennial and Gen-Z shopping habits in the long term.

2020 Bright Spots | While you may not be shocked to read that Gen-Z and millennials are generally positive about the future, the number of “bright spots” emerging from the last 12 months might come as a surprise. Research has found that 54 percent of 13 to 39-year-olds say there are important changes they’ve made because of COVID-19 that they would like to keep in their lives, including, among others:

  • Improved health/eating/exercise habits
  • Time with family and friends
  • Relationships with others
  • Being more cautious and hygienic
  • More free time
  • Self-improvement

Finances Are Top of Mind | While the impact of the pandemic on young people’s bank accounts has been far from even, many have become more stressed about money over the last few months. In a typical year, health and fitness is a top New Year’s resolution theme, but when asked about their New Year’s resolutions for 2021, the leading answers among young consumers were “earn more money” and “save more money.” Broken down further, the top five financial priorities for 13 to 19-years-olds today are saving money, paying for rent/bills/food, affording college and/or graduate school, finding a good job, and achieving financial stability.

Marketing Trends—For the Long Haul | Though many brands struggled to find the right tone in messaging when COVID-19 hit, as time went on marketing success stories began to emerge. Brands began to think outside the box—getting creative, creating moments of joy, and making marketing much more personal, and these approaches have proven successful in engaging young consumers. Four of the top trends that were born in 2020 (and aren’t expected to disappear in the new year) include drive-in experiences, unfiltered ads, in-game events, and individualized and distanced experiences. Additionally, with mental wellness becoming a major entertainment focus, brands began shifting their messaging to promises of “peace” and “relief,” to support young consumers’ well-being.



BBYO International Convention (IC) 2021 | We’re gearing up for a groundbreaking and history-making IC that will unite teen members from all corners of the global BBYO family like never before. Utilizing an immersive, digital event platform, we’ll be providing teens with access to inspiring guests and speakers, and an unparallel chance to deepen their leadership skills, serve the local community, celebrate Shabbat, enjoy exclusive music performances, and help strengthen the Jewish future. Visit the IC website to see all the exciting details and make sure your teen is registered so they can be in on all the action—they’re not going to want to miss a thing!

Virtual Leadership Experiences | BBYO’s Leadership Experiences have always provided Jewish teen leaders around the world with a space to explore their leadership styles, Jewish identities, and roles as global citizens. Now, teens feel the need for these environments more than ever—to build relationships, to educate themselves about the potential they possess, and to learn how to mobilize and take action. This spring, we’ll be offering teens three signature Virtual Leadership Programs: Elevating AZA: Building the Future of the Aleph Zadik Aleph, The Anita M. Perlman BBG Leadership Academy, and the Executive Leadership Series. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.

"Bringing Israel Home” Digital Series | Five-time James Beard Foundation award winning chef Michael Solomonov is a close friend to BBYO and will also be a special guest at IC 2021. In the meantime, you can get a taste of the Jewish homeland with Michael’s live-at-home cooking series, premiering each Wednesday at 8 PM ET now through April. He will bring Israel’s extraordinarily diverse and vibrant culinary landscape into people’s homes via weekly interviews with food and cultural figures in Israel, cooking both new and signature recipes live in his home kitchen, and through live conversations with viewers. Recipes will be available in advance, and you can access this exciting cooking series on Vimeo.



Since the pandemic began, everyone has been affected and challenged in different ways. Many teens have channeled the constant changes into new perspectives, hobbies, or interests and we’re grateful they’ve shared those with our community. You can read more from our members in The Shofar.

Podcasting: My Idea, My Plan, My Start, My Storyby Jonah Beckenstein, Lake Ontario Region | Jonah shares his passion for baseball, and how he eventually came to develop and co-host his own podcast called “Off the Bat.” Through trial and error, He has gone through several platforms and ideas, until he found what he enjoyed doing, and what helped his fanbase grow. He kept his motivation throughout the process, and never gave up on his passion for baseball and podcasting.

Be the Change You Wish to Seeby Gillian Beck, Lake Ontario Region | Change is a challenge we are constantly faced with, whether for better or for worse. We are constantly evolving, and it is up to us how we manage or cope with changes. Gillian reflects on the challenges and acceptance of change, and how we can do our part. The need to be the change you wish to see in the world is a value close to AZA and BBG as change-makers and global leaders, and it is up to our community to make positive differences in the world.

Adapting with the Times to Put Together a Showby Benji Lookatch, Wisconsin Region | Benji shares his experience of learning to adapt during the pandemic to provide safe experiences in school and extracurriculars. While he could have felt down about not having a normal theatre season, he met with his high school drama club and figured out a way to put together a show. Whether it was held virtually or not, he was ready to put in the work. Benji outlines how he worked with his friends to build the set and let the show go on.