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 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 26 | May 2024

Welcome | Around the Order | Across the World | Spotlight | The Next 100 | In Their Words | Ask Away | Upcoming Events



Parents, this past Friday marked 100 years since BBYO's founding on May 3, 1924. Below you'll find the letter I wrote to our remarkable Movement on this historic occasion. We're so grateful you and your teens are here to celebrate with us.
Matthew Grossman, BBYO CEO

Dear BBYO, 

Today, on your centennial birthday, I want to offer my gratitude.   

I came to you later in life, looking for the next step in my career. I was ready for a new opportunity, a new connection, and a deeper understanding of my potential. You did for me what you’ve done for hundreds of thousands of young Jews over the past 100 years—you welcomed me in and encouraged me to be my best self. You gave me an incredible gift—the opportunity to pursue a mission that would ultimately connect me with the most magnificent people as well as my own inner teen self. 

Your generosity comes as no surprise. You are known for your inclusivity and your ability to bring out the best in people. Your very essence is the joy and magic of being young. The ups and downs, the optimism, the naivety, the emotion, the glory, and the exploration of it all—brought to life through cheers, chants, candles, music, and the love among siblings, arm-in-arm, seeking and finding together. You are Jewish community personified and aflame.   

Your approach to reaching and inspiring young Jews has stood the test of time. You don’t sway to the latest trends, no matter how tempting that might be. No gimmicks and no panic. You do what you’ve always done—put young people in control of their own destiny, inviting them to lead their peers and encouraging them to believe in each other. And most importantly, you remind them that they are driven by a deeper purpose, the need to repair our broken world and perpetuate our Jewish faith. In your presence I heard the Talmudic phrase, “every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘grow! grow.’” You are that angel. 

You’ve guided the travels of young Jews across the globe, where they’ve turned ballrooms into sanctuaries, and brought prayer to places that turned a deaf ear to Jewish voices long ago. From Kansas City to Kiev, to summer nights in the Poconos and sunrises on Masada. The Schwartz’s basement too, it doesn’t really matter. The BBYO uniform (a t-shirt, not necessarily your own or clean) appears and reappears in these places. Thus, they become our places, homes to our forever memories.    

As we head into the next century, let’s walk unafraid, arm-in-arm, just as we have for the past 100 years. No matter where we are in the world, let the power of togetherness be our guide. And if we are ever lost, we will no doubt find each other in your places of adolescent joy, where the songs of young Jews find their way directly to G-d.  

With undying love and gratitude during your centennial year and always,
Matthew Grossman
Chief Executive Officer

Around the Order


J-Serve 2024 | This year, for the annual day of Jewish youth service, teens were challenged to do direct hands-on service projects aimed at making a tangible difference in their local communities. In addition to the emphasis on Israel-focused projects, each community had the opportunity to support a cause close to them such as homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, health and wellness, environmental conservation, and Holocaust education. Check out more in our official press release here!


Passover | Passover serves as a time to reflect, rejoice, and celebrate how far the Jewish people have come. This year, communities rang in the holiday with local programming across the Order including chocolate seders and Passover cook-offs! Additionally, families had the opportunity to purchase our first-ever BBYO Haggadah featuring over 100 words of wisdom from teens, staff, and alumni, ensuring that our story will be told for generations to come. Check out this article from Press Corps member Ruby B. about the new meaning Passover has taken on this year.

Spring Conventions | Spring's arrival with its warmer weather, sunshine, and the school year winding down, can only mean one thing: spring conventions are in full swing! Regions around the Order will gather for exciting weekends of events, from electing new regional boards to senior celebrations to elevated centennial programming. If your teen really loves convention season, consider an "extended convention" at a BBYO Summer Experience!

Across the World


Last month, BBYO hosted 163 teens from 27 countries in Bulgaria for our annual European Leadership Training Institute (ELTI). This historic gathering was powered by our teens, with six teen coordinators doing the bulk of the planning, in addition to two peer admins and over 20 teens on the steering committee.

Attendees got to experience leadership training on BBYO traditions and rituals, recruitment, engagement, teen democracy, fundraising, and much more. Parallel staff tracks took place with our professionals focusing on building a European staff community, learning why we do what we do, diving into BBYO operations, exploring Israel, and much more.

Mirroring the leadership offerings at our U.S.-based International Convention, attendees got to choose from six LEADs tracks with a variety of focuses, including direct service, engaging the local Jewish community, sports and wellness, and different artstic and creative mediums.
The community came together to celebrate a wonderful Shabbat with a variety of teen-led service options, and during a moving Havdalah service, teens and staff were inducted into the international Order. After Shabbat the teens enjoyed a blowout birthday “WOW” event to celebrate BBYO’s 100th.

During our closing event, seniors got to experience life ceremonies, cementing them as lifelong members of our global Movement. It was a truly extraordinary moment marking our continued global expansion, and one that will be remembered for years to come.



BBYO completed the first-ever comprehensive survey of Jewish high school students to understand the impact of the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel and the subsequent rise in antisemitism across the world. The findings are staggering as Jewish teens have seen an increase in antisemitic discrimination and incidents in school and during extracurricular activities since October 7, with more than seven in ten students experiencing harassment either in person or online.

The survey, conducted in partnership with First International Resources and Impact Research between January 23 and February 5, 2024, involved 1,989 high school students in 9th through 12th grades across the United States and Canada. In all, 71 percent of Jewish teens have experienced antisemitic harassment or discrimination, with 61 percent experiencing it in person, 46 percent experiencing it online, and 36 percent experiencing antisemitism both online and in person.

Learn more about this landmark survey here

The Next 100


In honor of our official 100th birthday, BBYO is uniting for special events, reunions, and celebrations. Throughout May, BBYO teens are coming together for Founders Fest—a series of global gatherings that include a Mother/Daughter Shabbat in Hudson Valley Region honoring 80 years of BBG, a disco-themed birthday party in Latvia with interactive stations exploring BBYO’s history, and a Founders' Day bonfire in Lake Ontario Region. Parents, alumni, and friends have also joined the fun at Signature Events in Argentina, Bulgaria, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., with events ahead this spring in Chicago, Israel, London, and New York as we continue worldwide celebrations of our Centennial year. 

Later this month, BBYO will launch the digital platform for our new Alumni Association. This platform will serve as a central hub for hundreds of thousands of alumni to stay connected with friends, explore exclusive events, and strengthen their personal and professional networks through BBYO. If you are the parent of a graduating teen, please encourage your senior to sign up here for access to the platform (and join us if you are an alum yourself!). 

Thank you to our BBYO parent community for your wishes on BBYO’s birthday cardit’s not too late to add yours—and your generous support for our programs at this milestone moment. We’re grateful to you for helping us mark 100 years! 



We are Courtney Saxe and TJ Katz, BBYO’s Anita M. Perlman International N’siah and Grand Aleph Godol (International Presidents)! Our year of serving on the International Board has been historical and incredible. We had the absolute honor of leading our Movement, supporting our journey into the Centennial year. Throughout our time in office, we had the opportunity to spend time with BBYO communities in 15 different countries. During the year, we were so lucky to train and inspire teens all over the order, meeting distinguished alumni, and teaching tradition and ritual.
As we approach the end of our term, we feel so honored to have served the Movement during such a pivotal time in BBYO’s history. We have had incredible opportunities this year, such as starting our first-ever BBYO community in Asia. We have been so passionate about helping revitalize and bring tradition back into the chapters. We have worked to bring in Deli Projects (intergenerational Aleph Dinners), run AZA and BBG Ritual Nights, run leadership roundtables, and so much more. This has also been a unique opportunity to help spread awareness and speak out for our siblings in Israel. From launching worldwide campaigns in partnership with the Maccabi World Union to speaking on stage at the Israel rally in DC in front of 300,000 people, we showed the world the power of Jewish community.
As we reflect on our personal BBYO journeys in what turned us into the leaders we’ve become, there are a few points that come to mind. First, we encourage your teens to take risks and go for leadership positions. The discomfort of not exactly knowing if they’re ready to take that jump to chapter or community board leads to an extreme amount of personal growth. Second, we hope our whole community—parents included—can appreciate the history of the organization we are a part of. Remember that we were founded 100 years ago by a group of Jewish teens who had nowhere else to go. It’s genuinely incredible to think about the fact that for the last century people have been singing the same songs and learning the same traditions. Third, BBYO Summer is the place to be. We are both products of the wonders BBYO summer leadership programs can do for teens: creating a global network of Jewish friends, learning leadership skills, and so much more.
From every community visit to the hours of zoom calls, we are just incredibly grateful and excited for the next 100 years of BBYO. Seeing summer programs on a waitlist, to a sold-out Centennial International Convention, this organization is thriving in the best way possible. We are honored to have spent the year serving BBYO and we are excited to see the next 100 years of AZA and BBG.
Fraternally and Submitted with Undying Love,
TJ Katz & Courtney Saxe
99th Grand Aleph Godol | 79th Anita M Perlman International N’siah



Our Wellness team addresses your pressing questions and shares advice on topics of interest.

Most days lately I awake feeling like a shook-up soda, “fear, stacked on top of nervousness, stacked on top of worry, stacked on top of love” (Matt de la Pena, “Milo Imagines the World,” 2021). Is today the day the hostages finally come home? What will today bring in the war? What will the news and social media say and how will friends respond? Will I still have friends when this is over? I know I’m not the only one doing this mental math and feeling this way.
The math is exhausting, stressful, and many more emotions I cannot name. Then you add on the layer of “how is this impacting my teen?” What is the impact of breathing the air right now and experiencing directly or indirectly antisemitism?

No person is immune to what is happening, and this is trauma. Our brains and bodies are stuck in a place of crisis response and trying to figure out do I fight, flee, or freeze. Responses are not dictated by logic. The rational, measured response is replaced by our reptilian brain and emotions—a response we most directly associate with our teenagers and the volatile roller coaster of emotions that they experience during puberty and adolescence. Adults and teens alike are walking around raw and with impacts on both our physical and mental health.   

As the world spins, we need to bring a sense of balance, light, and connection into what feels like a never-ending downward, dark hole with the next crisis lurking around the corner. Our job—as parents, educators, and support systems for teens and youth—is to restore a sense of safety, well-being, and mental health. But how? Key to rebuilding a sense of safety, well-being, and mental health are:

  • Community and connection. More important than ever is connection to others. Friends and supportive adults are vital to helping teens feel safe, accepted, and supported.
  • Locus of control. Help your teen to navigate what they can and cannot control. They are not going to change every mind or win every argument, but what can they control about when, where, and how they engage.
  • Instilling a sense of hope. There will be a tomorrow. While we don’t know what that looks like, we know that this moment will pass and a new day will emerge.
  • Healthy NOT happy. Mental health does not mean that you are happy all the time. It is normal to feel stressed, worried, nervous, anxious, scared, and uncertain right now. The question is what you do with those feelings, does it keep you from going out into the world, living life, doing the things your world, or impacting your normal routine, or do you acknowledge the emotion without letting it control and overwhelm you. If you are able to manage the uncomfortable emotion and accept it, without letting it interrupt your life, that is mental health.

This moment feels hard because it is. There aren’t perfect answers and every day we awake to new challenges that we never imaged. But if there is one thing that Jewish history has taught us it is that “we can do hard things.” After all, that is what mental health and resiliency are all about, learning that we can do hard and growing from it.


BeWell, JFNA’s youth mental health and wellness initiative, is partnering with Stanford University to assess American Jewish teens in relation to their mental health in 2024. Drew Fidler, Senior Director of BBYO’s Center for Adolescent Wellness, is on the research advisory committee for this initiative.
They are inviting all Jewish teens to participate in a study on the experience of being an American Jewish teenager in 2024. Participants will be asked a few questions about who they are, what types of Jewish activities they’re involved in (if any), and share how they deal with problems when they arise. Click here to have your teen participate in this survey.



Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth In a Changing World 

In partnership with Keshet 

(Today) Tuesday, May 7 at 8:00 PM ET

Virtual Session on Zoom: REGISTER HERE

The past three years have introduced unprecedented stressors into adolescents’ lives. Relying on research from the Trevor Project and Keshet’s expertise in working with LGBTQ+ Jewish teens, this webinar will explore the landscape of LGBTQ+ youth mental health, deepen our understanding of LGBTQ+ identities and especially gender identities, and strengthen our abilities to show up as listeners, supporters, and advocates for our teens.  

All BBYO parents are invited to attend this event, hosted by the BBYO Parent Advisory Council and featuring guest speakers from Keshet, a Jewish LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.