Advisor Connect

April 2020

Hold Space and Don’t Overwater the Plants

Hello Advisors! I'm M'ris Berlin and have been proudly serving BBYO for the last nine years as an advisor, first in Rocky Mountain Region and currently in Liberty Region. As a history wonk, my usual blessing for good things has always been something along the lines of "may you never live in interesting times." Clearly, this has not worked out well for me – or, really, any of us. "Interesting times" may be a colossal understatement for our current conditions, but I have been heartened to see the BBYO community – including advisors, parents, and especially teens and alumni – come together to provide light for each other and to support each other as we experience this communal crisis. 

Time keeps striding forward, but everything feels different right now. Holding space for fellow advisors, for the teens, and for our greater community to process the broad range of emotions and experiences that we are all having is one of the best, but also most complicated, things we can do for each other in this moment. (If you're not familiar with the term "holding space," it is a concept in therapy that means you, the listener, are there to witness and validate the speaker's emotional state while simultaneously being present and aware of your own. Source: too much time in therapy.) Tikvah #1561 in Wilmington, DE has been able to successfully move forward by quickly and collaboratively putting together virtual programming, including learning the ins and outs of Zoom calls through extreme trial and error (Yes to: universal mute button when needed, bizarre green screen backgrounds. No to: chewing with the mic on, taking Zooms outdoors on a windy day). I’ve watched them, and helped to guide them in their process when appropriate, as they navigate their feelings about the current state of the world and how much they want to communicate about those feelings. They're upset about end-of-year festivities being cancelled, they're nervous about what their next year of school will look like (whether it's high school or college); they want to ignore all of it and just watch silly movies via Netflix Party and pretend that everything is normal. There's room for all of that in BBYO, and I've found that it's important to let the teens move through this at their own pace, in their own time, and, as an advisor, being present and available for both versions of programming/coping mechanisms. (Surprisingly, the program I thought they would be the most eager to engage in right now – a virtual Good and Welfare – is the one that they’re the least interested in.) BBYO provides many of my teens, and probably yours as well, a safe space to truly be themselves, and, at this time, they need that more than ever. 

My other hobby, besides supervising teenagers, is my succulent collection. If I've given any good advice at all over the last few weeks, it's this: don't overwater the plants. You don't need to hover, and you don't need to check on them 47 times a day. Don't nervous-prune, and definitely do not give anyone a cabin fever haircut. What we are going through is a traumatic occurrence, and for as much as we want to pretend that it's not affecting us all, in both collective and individual ways, it absolutely is. Let your teens (and yourself!) know that it's okay to be scared, freaked out, to not know the answers, or to need longer to process information. Personally, I’ve made a point to be as honest as I can be about my own experiences through this: That there will be days that seem totally normal, and there will be days where absolutely nothing seems normal. That self-care comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and that no one should be judging their own coping methods by what they see on social media. We (advisors and teens alike) can use this time to try something new (want a plant?), or just comfort watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 400th time. Cheer for our healthcare workers – or, take a note from Denver and just howl. Whatever brings you comfort, joy, or even a bit of visceral serenity right now is exactly what you should be doing. For us, as well as the teens: allow yourself the space to process (to “feel your feels”, as I would say), and remember that self-care is just as important as being there to care for others.  

With love, with hope, with refuah shlemah, with wash your ding dang hands, 



What's New, Advisor Hub?

Happy three months, Advisor Hub! Your one-stop online resource center exclusively for advisors is full of fresh updates, including... 

  • New #AdvisorWins: We’re updating shout outs to awesome advisors on the first of every month. Don’t miss out on seeing you or your friends recognized! Plus, it’s never too late to submit an appreciation.  

  • All Access: You no longer need a myBBYO login to access the site. If you’re an advisor outside of North America, this means you can easily have the tools you need at the fingertips. Note: You still need a myBBYO login to access the “Safety, Healthy, and Policy” section. 

  • New Resources for a New Era: In the “Chapter Excellence” section, we’ve added a set of new resources to help you and your teens program, plan, and relationship build in a virtual space (they’ve got a NEW! tag). 

  • Advisor Featured Programming We’ve embedded the lineup of On Demand programming for advisors for your easy access. PS: Make sure to catch these can’t-miss programs: 

    • Dancing with the Star: Alan Bersten, DWTS champion – May 5, 7:00 PM ET 

    • Women’s Leadership Initiative Speaker Series: Stacey Tank, executive at The Home Depot – May 12, 7 PM ET 

    • Second Hand Fashion with Meredith Fineman, It Never Gets Old Podcast – May 19, 2 PM ET 


On Demand with Dana and Fanny

By now, we hope you’ve had a chance to explore BBYO On Demand, our virtual programming hub. It’s not just for teens – advisors use it too! Whether it’s tuning into programs (here’s a program lineup curated for advisors), hosting your own experience (submit here), or helping your chapters program on BBYO On Demand (here’s a step-by-step guide), there’s something for everyone. We asked two advisors how they use BBYO On Demand. 

First off, who are you? Where are you from? 

Dana: My name is Dana Kaplansky. I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m advising Ligdol BBYO #5044 and this is my second year as an advisor. 

Fanny: Hi! My name is Fanny Sevilla, I'm from Mexico City, and I'm advisor of the Los Chiles BBYO Mexico chapter. I've been advising this chapter since November, 6 months. 

What’s your favorite BBYO On Demand program that you’ve participated in? 

Dana: I enjoyed many programs, but my favorite one is the Latin American meeting called “Mi Propio Egipto” (“My Own Egypt”), where teens from all around Latin America got to discuss Passover in their native language and how it’s connected to our daily lives. It was amazing to see the kids participating and having the chance to do it in their own language. 

Fanny: The Afikoman Hunt was very fun, and I really enjoyed it.  

What programs have you planned on BBYO On Demand? What programs have your chapters planned on On Demand?

Dana: I hosted a program called “BBYO Global Recipes” where each week I’d cook different dishes, teaching the secrets that my own grandmothers taught me and getting to pass the tradition from generation to generation. My chapter has planned all kinds of programs: about how screens and technologies affect our daily lives, a movie and famous characters quiz, a debate about conspiracy theories, a Passover program – they even started planning pen pals! 

Fanny: We have a weekly chapter call every Thursday. We did a “12 Tips for the Quarantine” session, a freedom and Pesach activity, and Zikaron BaSalon (“Living Room Memories” Yom HaShoah program). Also, BBG from Los Chiles Mexico hosted a program about feminism On Demand. We've also been making videos to support Mexico's Jewish community.  

What tips and tricks do you have for other advisors getting their chapters comfortable with using BBYO On Demand and programming virtually?

Dana: My advice is, if you have something in mind that could be interesting, share it! If you’re not sure on how to plan it, get some people to help you! It just takes some effort and some clicks. Nowadays there is an incredible amount of resources you can find online that will help you create amazing things. Think big! Some links that might help you create cool stuff: Padlet | Mentimeter | | Wheel of Names | Quizzizz | Coronabingo 

Fanny: I recommend trying to relate international news and events with values and lessons for your teens to takeaway. Linking Israeli, Jewish, and national holidays with an activity is a great source of inspiration. Have guest speakers and learn from them. Try to have a weekly moment with your teens and schedule your On Demand session in advance.  

What do you love about BBYO On Demand? 

Dana: What I love about BBYO On Demand is that it’s a place where you can bring whatever you’d like to show to others. You can create amazing content, and you also have many interesting program options to learn from and entertain yourself with, alongside people from around the whole world. 

Fanny: I love that there are infinite possibilities, and it's really easy to have an international session or partner. It doesn't matter that we are all alone in our homes, I feel that we are closer than ever. We are all in this together.  

Thanks, Dana and Fanny! PS: We’re starting bi-weekly Advisor Office Hours on BBYO On Demand, Wednesdays at 8pm ET, beginning on May 6. Drop by to chat, collaborate, and ask questions. See you there! 

P.P.S.: Earlier this month, BBYO launched the BBYO On Demand FAN Club, helping our staff, advisors, and teen leaders raise revenue directly for their regions through BBYO On Demand. We’re so excited by the response FAN Club has received so far, and eager to keep the momentum going! Want to brainstorm how to localize FAN Club perks for your community? Contact Rachel Krueger


More Meaningful Jewish Experiences

This section features a reflection, story, or words of Torah from a member of our Jewish Enrichment team. Today’s message comes from Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, Director of Jewish Enrichment.

“Go to the ant…learn her ways and be wise.” (Proverbs 6:6)

The wise King Solomon exhorts us to learn from the ant for they have a lot to teach us. In this vein, I would like to suggest that we go to a fabled donkey to learn resilience.

This donkey had a terrible accident, he was just walking along and minding his own business, when he accidentally fell into a pit. Try as hard as he could, the donkey simply could not pull himself out of this pit. After braying for help, finally his owner showed up and saw the sad predicament that he was in. The owner was quite distraught because he too had no idea how to get the poor donkey out of the pit. The owner decided to ask his wise rabbi who always seemed to have the answer to all of life’s challenges.

The owner ran to the rabbi and described his predicament to the wise sage. The rabbi closed his eyes and stroked his beard and finally said, “Take a shovel and dig some dirt and keep on shoveling the dirt upon the donkey and then he will be saved.” Although the owner thought this solution sounded ridiculous, he was determined to do as the rabbi said. So, he ran back to the distraught donkey and he began to shovel dirt upon dirt upon the donkey. The donkey cried out to his owner, “I don’t understand – how can you shovel dirt upon me? You are hurting me!” The owner did not have an answer, he simply covered his eyes and kept shoveling as the rabbi recommended. Finally, after an hour of shoveling, he opened his eyes and magically his donkey was standing right in front of him, unscathed and unharmed from this ordeal. The owner was elated but puzzled, “But how did you get out from the pit?” he asked his donkey. “Simple,” replied the donkey, “Although I was shocked that you were shoveling dirt upon me, I was determined to make the best of this sad situation and as the dirt kept coming in to the pit, I decided that rather than letting it bury me, I would stand on it and pat it down beneath me. I kept doing this and lo behold, the pit finally filled, and I was able to climb out of it.”

It seems that our teens (and probably we as well) have fallen into pits of loneliness and anxiety. What can we do to help our teens rise above the dirt and not get drowned by the sadness around us? The most important thing that we can do is to reach out to check on them. Just knowing that they are not alone is helpful and useful. We can also create and organize programming that brings our teens together. This camaraderie can go along a way toward alleviating the loneliness. Finally, lets us bring some joy and happiness to our teens. Whether by arranging "drive bys" or virtual group activities such as Zoom meals, and coffees, whatever we can do to lighten up our teens’ moods will help them through these difficult times.

Let’s work together and emulate the donkey. Let’s help our teens step on the dirt around them so they can rise up and emerge from these troubled times.


Sick of Being Behind a Screen? We Are, Too

Introducing: Advisor Photo Bingo, a photo scavenger hunt designed to get you and your tuchus outside. Make a copy of this Google slide or this PNG template, drag and drop your photos, and send to [email protected]. The first person to fill all nine squares with their photos, and the person with the funniest photos (subjective, we know) submitted by May 15 will win Door Dash gift cards, so you can support a local restaurant. We also encourage you to share on social media (make sure to tag @bbyoinsider). Get out there! 

Plus, bonus: Our friends at Camp Nai Nai Nai and Moishe House want YOU to join the world’s largest color war. Break out of your quarantine routine to compete in weekly challenges and earn prizes – join any time, on your own terms.