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 10 | March 2021

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


Dear Parents,

Over the last six months, BBYO has been working on our three-year strategic plan. While there is still pandemic uncertainty in play, we felt that this was the perfect time to reflect on our past efforts and prepare for the much-anticipated opportunity to bring our teens back together. It is also an ideal time to leverage the extraordinary creativity of our teens, staff, advisors, parents, alumni, funders, and a group of industry experts to help develop our plan.

As part of our efforts, we conducted a wide range of research including two broad surveys of nearly 4,000 teens and 2,500 adult stakeholders, more than 40 focus groups, and countless interviews to determine what teen needs will look like after the pandemic is over. BBYO’s strategic plan is focused on four key areas of work:

  • Teen Experience: What are teens and families looking for from BBYO and how must our programming evolve to meet their needs? How should we continue to evolve our practices so that BBYO is a welcoming place for all teens regardless of ability, race, gender, beliefs, or interest?
  • Global Movement: Over the last 10+ years, BBYO has consistently grown around the world. As we continue to create opportunities for teens across 55+ countries, what must BBYO adapt in terms of its operations, systems, and management to support the growing global community?
  • Changing World: Young people are driving a generational moment of social change at a time when civil discourse is more polarized than ever. What is the right balance between creating leaders who advocate passionately for what they believe in and providing a neutral space for those with different beliefs to have respectful dialog around these topics and maintain friendships?
  • Stakeholder Experience: Parents and alumni have increasingly been a support system for BBYO in terms of volunteering, strategy development, mentorship, brand building, and fundraising. What are the best ways to harness this incredible source of talent?

As we continue this critical work, we look forward to sharing our findings with you in the coming months. If you have ideas on ways that we can improve or innovate in any area of our work, I would love to hear from you!

Wishing you and your families a happy and meaningful Passover celebration.

Jill Hulnick
Chief Impact Officer



Passover | BBYO has two exciting ways to enhance your Passover celebration: 

  • The Great Afikoman Hunt IS BACK! We are re-launching this EPIC global game on Thursday, March 25, with daily challenges, fun new content, and great prizes.
  • BBYO is here to help you transform highlights from the traditional Seder into contemporary conversations on today’s issues with our new BBYO Seder Discussion Cards. Be on the lookout for our printable cards coming your way later this week.

Summer Registration Filling Fast | Summer is just around the corner, and we can hardly wait to welcome teens back for a safe and healthy BBYO Summer. We recently released our Summer Procedures so families know what to expect, and we will continue developing them as needed. If you haven’t made plans, it’s the perfect time to give your teen a summer experience they’ll never forget! Visit to learn all about our signature programs: CLTC, ILTC, International Kallah, Camp BBYO, and Movement Makers.

Virtual Ambassadors Trips | This April, BBYO teens have the unique opportunity to “travel” with ZWST in Germany and JDC's AJT in the Former Soviet Union and experience cross-cultural exchange with their global peers. Alephs and BBGs will participate in virtual experiences to explore the rich history and culture of these regions and learn about strengthening global Jewish life. Registration closes on March 26. Ambassadors to Germany and Ambassadors to the Former Soviet Union have been made possible with the generous support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group.



Helping Teens Prepare for Social Re-integration

The past year has impacted many teens’ sense of trust, social skills, and mental health. For some, COVID-19 has been a welcome relief from fears of bullying and social anxiety. For others, they have appreciated spending time at home focused on the quiet pursuits they enjoy. As we all prepare to re-integrate to in-person interaction, programming, and education, some teens may experience increased exhaustion, hesitancy in social interactions, anxiety around being exposed to others, fears of pre-pandemic stressors like social bullying and cliques, and even grief and loss for traditions that have changed, milestones that went uncelebrated, or lives lost.

The good news is, there are a number of ways parents can help their teens transition back with empathy and support.

  1. Plan for the transition. Planning can help relieve stress, fear, and anxiety. As you get information on dates for in-person schooling and programs, help your teens think through what they may need and what questions or concerns they have, and then problem-solve together to set them up for success.
  2. Normalize and validate feelings. Teens often believe they are the only ones feeling a certain way, leading them to feel isolated and misunderstood. By asking questions and listening to their answers, parents can reassure teens they are not alone and that many others are hesitant about what will happen next.
  3. Establish routines. It is important to reset healthy habits and get back to normal sleeping, eating, and homework routines. Having routines helps make our days days more predictable and gives teens a sense of safety and security.
  4. Create space to process. Highlight the positives and help your teen find spaces where they can process what they have been through and express their feelings. This can help them feel more in control and able work through the growing pains of re-integration.
  5. Be clear on boundaries and expectation setting. Help your teen understand the rules for whatever setting they are going into. When rules are clear and teens know what is expected of them, it can help ease fears and uncertainty.

It is important to keep in mind that short-term psychological impacts and behavioral changes while transitioning back are to be expected. However, if you notice continued psychological and behavioral impacts in your teen—such as disconnection with activities and friends, thoughts of harming themselves, feelings of hopelessness, or not sleeping or eating—then it may be time to reach out for help.



In this edition of Trending Now, we’re sharing the latest updates on causes most important to Gen-Z, the college admissions process, and how mental health and wellness is becoming a part of luxury car brands’ marketing campaigns.

Gen-Z Causes & Brands | In the wake of protests and social media takeovers that showed how activated Gen Z and Millennials are, we learned that 2020 changed what social good looks like not only for young people, but also for brands. Gen-Z consumers say they actively seek out brands that support the causes they believe in. Currently, the top causes that make their list are the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination, gender equality, education, sexual harassment, and climate change. While this certainly doesn’t mean that other issues aren’t important or won’t become more important again in the future, these causes are Gen-Z’s focus at the moment.

Waiting for Admission | College wait lists are expected to be incredibly long this year. Because COVID-19 has impacted the more “traditional elements” of the admissions process, including things like campus visits and standardized tests, schools are struggling with how many students to admit this spring. According to Common App, applications submitted rose by 11 percent nationwide through March 1, but the number of applicants increased by just 2.4 percent—which means nearly the same number of students are casting “a wider net.” NYU reported that they received 100,000 applications this year and plan to enroll a freshman class of just 6,000.

Cars & Wellness | Luxury car manufacturerLexus is getting into the wellness industry with “luxury road trips.” As the auto industry continues to try to reach young drivers, Lexus is joining the wellness space to promote its new sedan by teaming up with lifestyle media brand Mindybodygreen for their “Retreats in Motion” campaign. Interested guests will receive a hotel stay, loan of the car, and access to wellness content aimed at promoting relaxation and emotional well-being. In YPulse’s latest trend report, they found that 78 percent of 13 to 39-year-olds like it when brands make mental health a part of their marketing and messaging.



J-Serve | J-Serve is an annual day of service open to all teens in 6th through 12th grades, and an amazing opportunity for teens to give back to their communities and make the world a better place. Participants can come together and have a blast with their friends while learning about the value of service and community engagement. Connect with your regional director to find out what local opportunities are happening in your area.

Convention Weekend | Over 20 regions will be hosting incredible virtual Conventions the weekend of April 23–25. Spring Conventions are a chance for teens to interact with their friends from different chapters, close out their semester by electing a new regional board, and get excited for summer leadership programs. Whether participating with in-person components or completely virtually, all teens will have community-connecting opportunities. Stay on the lookout for info coming your way from your regional staff.

Founders’ Day | This Spring, Alephs and BBGs from around the world will celebrate Founders' Day on April 22 (BBG) and May 3 (AZA). We'll ring in 97 years of AZA and 77 years of BBG with chapter events, alumni engagement activities, and new member inductions celebrating this incredible milestone in BBYO’s storied history. Visit our website to see what's coming and stay tuned for more details!



Enjoy these writings from and interviews with teens from across our Order.

Four Local Teens to Fill Positions on the International BBYO Board”—Baltimore Jewish Times | At our annual International Elections, four Baltimore Council BBYO teens were elected to serve on the 97th Grand Board of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the 77th International Board of the B'nai B'rith Girls. Get to know them and their visions for the year ahead.

Growth During Difficult Times”—Elizabeth Berman, BBYO Estonia | Did you know that each week, BBYO teens share their take on the weekly Torah portion in The Shofar? This week’s Parsha thought comes from an Estonian teen who shares how the Torah can help guide us through dark moments.

Life After BBYO: An Alumni Q&A”—Jess Daninhirsch, KMR Region | In this four-part series, a Pennsylvania teen interviews BBYO alumni to get their perspective on what their time in BBYO meant to them, and how it has continued to shape their lives post-high school.


Advisor Appreciation Month

Each March, we dedicate a month to thanking our amazing volunteer advisors who give so much to shaping the lives of BBYO teens.We are grateful to our many parent advisors, as well as the parents across the Order who have helped us celebrate this month.

“One thing we have learned from being BBYO parents for the last 10 years is that the volunteer advisors are the lifeblood of the Order. All three of our boys were in the same chapter and have had the same amazing advisor, David Cohn, or DCohn as everyone calls him. In a teen-led organization, a good advisor functions like the guide rails or bumpers in a bowling alley. The teens respect DCohn because he allows them to be creative and goofy and experiment with new programs, but knowing he is there to reign them in when needed and keep the chapter on track is not only comforting to the parents but to the kids as well. As our last kid finishes his time in BBYO this year, we are grateful to have had DCohn as our partner on this 10-year journey of parenting teenagers and can’t imagine having done it without him!”

—Julie and Tedd Lookatch, Wisconsin Region