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 4 | March 2020

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


Dear Parents,

This newsletter is now in its fourth installment, and we’ve received much positive feedback about the role it has played in enhancing our communication and connection with a vital part of the BBYO family—you, our parents. During this time of uncertainty brought on by the spread of COVID-19, I’m grateful to have this platform through which to directly reaffirm the commitment we have—and have always had—to put the safety, health, and well-being of our teens above all else. We’ve set up a response page with information about local events, summer programs, and best practices and we invite you to take a look and reach out to us with any additional questions.

We’re also thinking more broadly about how we can partner with you to help support your teen through the worry that can be brought on by this climate. To that end, check out the Wellness Corner section below, where our wellness staff have shared valuable and practical tips for helping your teen (and you) cope emotionally, and even channel this challenge into a growth opportunity.

While some gatherings may not move forward as planned in the coming weeks, we can take comfort by looking back at the exciting few months we’ve just had, as well as what they mean for our bright future. I hope you had a chance to check out all the happenings at International Convention (IC) last month—over 3,000 Jewish teens gathered to learn, lead, and laugh with each other alongside a myriad exciting presenters and performers. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a beautiful video recap of our incredible weekend.

You may not know that each year at IC, the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA) and B'nai B'rith Girls (BBG) elect new Grand and International Boards to lead our Movement forward. Congratulations to our incoming Anita M. Perlman International N'siah, Maya Zucker, from Greater Jersey Hudson River Region and Grand Aleph Godol, Ben Cohen, from Central Region West. As they take on this responsibility in August, Maya and Ben will defer college and lead the Movement’s 50+ countries forward while supporting more than 700 chapters to be the strongest homes they can be for Jewish teens worldwide.

While it may be (for the immediate future) through a screen, we are here for you and your teen, and the principles that we hold dear—Jewish teens leading, learning, growing, and connecting with one another—will guide our way forward as they have for nearly a century.

Gary Levin
Senior Vice President, Community Impact



Advisor Appreciation Month | March is Advisor Appreciation Month! Our volunteer advisors dedicate their time to ensuring the chapter experience in BBYO is extraordinary. These passionate and devoted individuals change our teens’ lives through mentorship, support, planning, and so much more. Although we express our gratitude on an ongoing basis and encourage others to do the same, we dedicate this month to showing our appreciation and affection to our advisors. In that spirit, we’re putting out a number of videos highlighting some of these amazing individuals. Check out Robin Chantker’s story and stay tuned on our channels for more!

50 in 50 | Our CLTC 50 in 50 campaign is back for another year! This special incentive supports our goal of getting 50 teens registered for CLTC in 50 days and giving more teens the chance to learn crucial leadership lessons in a fun camp setting. Referring teens have the chance to win $500+! The campaign runs now through April 20—check out the 50 in 50 webpage for all the details. Is your teen registered for CLTC? Help spread the word and they could win big! Is your teen not yet registered? Current 9th and 10th graders can gain so much from the experience, and we encourage you to connect with a parent whose teen is signed up to learn more about their decision.

International Convention 2020 | In addition to the recap video Gary Levin shared in his welcome message above, all of our IC video content is now on YouTube! Take a look at our Teen Press Corps–run news desks, plenary highlights, video addresses, behind-the-scenes moments, and more! We learned, served, led, prayed, celebrated, and connected as a Movement, and regardless of whether or not your teen was there, the progress and growth the event lent to our Movement will touch the lives of all BBYO teens. Save the date for next year’s IC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 11–15, 2021!

JDAIM | February was Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). The mission behind this dedicated time is to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be included and to participate in all aspects of Jewish life. As part of JDAIM, BBYO teens participate in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day, where they hear from speakers on issues of inclusion, join with other advocates from across the country, and meet with lawmakers to help advance legislation on various issues impacting Jews with differing abilities across the country. Check out this article from BBG member Ivy Seligman for a first-hand teen account of this meaningful experience.



Supporting Teens in Uncertain Times

The news is unavoidable and concerning. A pandemic health crisis, schools closed, activities and conferences cancelled—everywhere you look, it is impossible to avoid the stress and uncertainty associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). Our teens are not immune from the fear and worry that currently exists. They hear the tone in our voices and the talk of canceled plans, they see the television, they feel the world shifting and changing around them. As parents and educators, our job is to help teens navigate stress and uncertainty and help them build up their capacity to handle similar challenges in the future. There is no better time to do that than now.

The reality is that how we respond to and handle times of stress are the exact lessons that help our youth build their own response systems and their resiliency. This latest challenge is actually an opportunity to impart crucial lessons to our teens on handling adversity. So, what skills do we want them to build and how can we use this moment to help them? Here are some keys to helping transform this trying time into one of growth:

  1. Be Calm: During the safety briefing on airplanes, the flight attendants tell us that we must “place your own mask on, before assisting others.” Dealing with stressful moments is no different. Find the space to care for your own stresses and worries before communicating with teens. Whether you are a person who likes to have information and facts or someone who takes time to exercise or meditate, embrace the processes you need to feel calm in moments of chaos. It is especially important to approach conversations with your teens from a place of calm. Additionally, it is useful to share your strategies and techniques with your teens, as they may also find them to be beneficial.  

  2. Context Matters: The language we use to describe issues and to talk to teens matters. With the current crisis, we are talking about an illness like the flu that, with respect to a vast majority of young people, is not life-threatening. While communicating with teens, it is important to avoid putting it in ultimate consequential language. What do we know as opposed to what do we fear? How are we choosing our words to communicate clearly and effectively? These are the same principles that can help guide educational conversations about risky behavior and decision-making that are inextricably linked to the teen experience.

  3. Listen: It is important to hear what our teens are saying and the actions they are taking. Sometimes, behaviors speak louder than words. If your teen is not sleeping or having nightmares, their eating habits have changed significantly, they are withdrawing from friends and other things they enjoyed, or experiencing headaches or stomach aches that are not related to any medical issue, these are signs that something bigger might be happening. It is important to acknowledge those changes and ask your teen questions about the behaviors you are seeing.

  4. Take Breaks: Information is constantly available through social media and 24/7 news networks. While often valuable, this continuous flow of information can create more fear and panic. It is important to encourage our teens to step away from those devices and take breaks. Play a game they like, go for a walk, talk to friends—encourage them to find a way to disconnect from the stressful information and reconnect to the world around them. This is the same with studying and other endeavors; we should find ways to encourage teens to make the time and space to take a break for the betterment of their minds and bodies.

  5. Build Healthy Habits: Getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating healthy, washing their hands regularly—these are skills that are important for our teens to have throughout their lives. When our teens engage in these habits regularly, they are better prepared to take on challenges and crises when they arise. It is important to present these not as a situational response, but as lifetime skills they should have and will need.

By reframing the current crisis to help our teens build these essential skills, we are ultimately helping them deal with other issues of adolescence—bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc.—that were here long before coronavirus and will be here long after the virus goes away.



In this edition of , we’re sharing the latest updates on tech and toy trends, as well as Gen-Z’s obsession with TikTok, the hottest social media platform in the world, from YPulse, a leading provider of news, commentary, and research on tweens, teens, and young adults.


  1. Getting ready for a Black Mirror world | Gen Z has a history of being tech fans and early adopters of the latest innovations. But how far does their tech devotion stretch? Facial recognition, virtual reality devices, artificial intelligence robots, and hologram celebrities are no longer just possibilities, but everyday realities. YPulse’s research found that teens are ready and willing to have some of these things become mainstream—but there is still a line for them. What they’re most wary of is emerging technologies that mimic being human, with many saying they would not want to attend a hologram concert of an artist who passed away or follow a computer-generated social media influencer. Maintaining their privacy is also top of mind. Though many feel it’s somewhat a lost cause at this point, they’re still not comfortable with technologies like face scanning or behavior tracking.

  2. The massive growth of TikTok | Last year was undoubtedly the year of TikTok. The app grew like wildfire, attracted brands, started trends, and made headlines throughout 2019. According to The Verge, TikTok has seen astounding growth since launching in 2017, adding 500 million users in 2019 alone, and reporting 1.5 billion users total. Today, roughly 35% of 13 to 18-year-olds report that they use TikTok (up from 20% in October and 12% in February 2019). In YPulse’s recent social media behavior survey, they asked young consumers how they feel about their social media apps, and TikTok was the platform that 13 to 18-year-olds were most likely to call addictive. They were also most likely to call TikTok entertaining—the app beat out Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, and other major platforms on this metric.

  3. Three trends predicted to take over toy aisles this year | On the heels of the 2020 New York Toy Fair, there were lots of buzzed-about items, including kid-sized carts that put children in control, YouTube-influencer lines, and animatronic toys. But the three big trends that will be taking over toy aisles and playrooms, for both literal and grownup kids, this year are:

    • Baby Yoda merchandise: Disney and other big brands like Hasbro, Lego, Build-A-Bear, Chia Pets, and Funko Pop are all releasing their official Baby Yoda merch this year, the heart-stealing character from Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

    • Eco-friendly everything: With young consumers’ growing concerns around the environment, sustainability has increasingly been a focus for brands from fashion to food—and this year, toy companies are putting eco-friendly playthings front and center.

    • Getting “hands on” and outdoors: This year, many STEM and educational toys will focus on hands-on learning and balancing screen time. Toys like doctor’s kits and old-fashioned science and chemistry kits are expected to be all the rage. Similarly, outdoor toys encouraging kids to play outside with their families will be popular, too.



J-Serve 2020 | J-Serve, the international day of Jewish youth service, is just around the corner. Since 2005, J-Serve has provided teens with a unique opportunity to band together through service as a united global network committed to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkun olam, the responsibility to repair the world. Visit the J-Serve website to learn more about what opportunities are available (both in-person and virtual)!

Summer 2020 | We’re deep into planning for our 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 child 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!

  • ScholarshipNeed-based scholarship is still available for summer programs. Funds are awarded on a rolling basis, so we highly recommend applying as soon as possible. In addition, for the first time this year we are offering a merit-based scholarship for a summer in Israel.

  • Seasonal Positions for Parents: We’re hiring personable, dynamic individuals to join our summer team! We are currently looking to fill the roles of Camp Wellness Specialist/Social Worker, Camp Wellness Administrator and Camp Nurse. We encourage you to peruse these listings for details and feel free to reach out to Sabrina Moore, our Manager of Program Registration & Administration, with any questions.



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

Magic Moments: Big and Small
From a 5,000-person Shabbat meal to one-on-one conversations, we made every moment count

We’re still basking in the glow of International Convention and wow, what an event! IC has truly become an unparalleled convening, offering multiple ways for teens to experience, learn, and connect with each other. Of course, this holds true for the Jewish experience at IC, which we work hard to make holistic, unique, and engaging.

It's that last word that shaped our vision for one of our favorite IC elements—the J-Lab. The J-Lab is a dedicated space for creative and interactive Jewish learning. In addition to daily prayer, the J-Lab hosted a variety of pop-up session and freestanding exhibits—all aimed at making Judaism and Jewish conversations relevant and accessible.

Our teen-led team took its creative spirit and passion for Judaism and built something truly amazing. The interactive prayer booth guided teens through the Amidah, an ancient and reflective prayer, by utilizing a modern twist. Our Jewish Future Bank had participants stop and think about the things they most value in their lives. Our Jewish Genius Bar was staffed by rabbis and educators around the clock, ready to take on big Jewish questions. And our Please Touch Judaica Exhibit allowed teens to touch, feel, learn about (and even taste!) all sorts of ritual and cultural objects.

It's easy to point to the big moments at IC—the giant Shabbat dinner with 5,000 participants, the massive and moving Havdalah service, the 20+ services offered on Friday night and Saturday morning, and the singing and dancing that filled the Shabbat atmosphere through the weekend. These moments were powerful expressions of our global Jewish community. And, at the same time, the smaller moments helped to shape our Jewish experience at IC in just as important a way. Seeing teens passionately argue about their Jewish identity while lounging in the J-Lab, watching someone wrap tefillin for the very first time, or witnessing a group of friends sip their kosher monster milkshakes—these are powerful small instances that created Jewish memories and wove together the overall IC experience of Jewish connectivity.

Now that our teens have returned to their homes, we know they will work hard to create incredible regional programs and chapter events. We hope that as they do, they will take time to appreciate every small conversation, lesson learned, and engaging Jewish moment in their communities and see the value of interactions big and small.


Tune into the second installment of our free

Protecting Teen Mental Health
Thursday, May 7, 2020
8:00 PM EST
The Jed Foundation

The forecast for young adult mental health can feel daunting: one out of every six youth struggles with a mental health disorder each year, stress and anxiety are on the rise, and suicide and accidental drug overdose are some of the leading causes of death among young adults. Come learn from The Jed Foundation, the nation's leading nonprofit working to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults, about mental health issues among young people and how you can identify warning signs, offer support, and effectively help teens who may be experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.

Webinar access URL
Password: 447290

Missed our first class? You can watch the recording of “Stress and Resilience: Why Stress is Good for Teens” here. The webinar will be available for viewing until April 4, 2020.
Password: BBYOParentEducation2020


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