Advisor Connect

July 2020

The Year of the Chapter: Welcome from Ben and Maya

Hey Advisors! I’m Ben Cohen from Simon Wiesenthal AZA #2524 of Central Region West #45. Hebrew is my first language, I love some good 80’s rock, enjoy playing adult recreational basketball, and am hyped to be serving as the 96th Grand Aleph Godol! And I’m Maya Zucker from Chaverim BBYO #5371 of the Greater Jersey Hudson River Region. I love avocado toast, hiking, spin classes, and couldn’t be more excited to be serving as the 76th Anita M. Perlman International N’siah! We’re thrilled to be working with you all this year and wanted to share a little about what we do and our vision for our year ahead.

As the International Presidents of BBYO, we oversee and support all teen happenings in our Movement. We work closely alongside community Presidents, supporting them by providing resources, advice, and anything else they may need to ensure their communities thrive. This year, we are committed to focusing on our roots — our chapters. We believe that strong chapters, measured in success by strength of programming and engaged members, is what results in a strong Movement. We see the value that each individual chapter brings to our Movement as a whole. Especially with the uncertainty in our world, our chapters will shine brighter than ever before as the hub of BBYO life and we’re excited to partner with you through it! We, along with our boards, are here to provide resources, support your chapter boards in program planning and recruitment efforts, be a creative brainstorm partner, and be your biggest fans throughout this year!

We look forward to connecting with you soon! You can always reach us at [email protected] (Ben) or [email protected] (Maya) and we can’t wait for an awesome programming year with you and your chapters!

Respectfully submitted with tons of appreciation for all of you,

We forever remain,

Ben Cohen & Maya Zucker

96th Grand Aleph Godol & 76th Anita M. Perlman International N’siah


Reflections on Education, Allyship, and Activism

Hi! I am Sasha Joseph, the Senior Regional Director for Central Region West. I  am  alum of North Texas Oklahoma  Region and I am so excited to be working for BBYO, a space that shaped my Jewish Identity. I moved to the United States when I was 14, from India, and immediately felt welcome in my home chapter of Nona Bloch Salomon BBG #243. I am so thankful my identity was nurtured  by the adults around me. My advisors created a space for me to learn, practice, and just  be Jewish.

As I am writing to you, I am reminded of a quote used in Pirkei  Avot  (the Ethics of our Fathers),  "It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either."  As advisors you embody this! You work many hours on your weekends to shepherd our teens from becoming good to great. I am also thinking about all the additional work you are all doing as we move through this stage of awakening in the world.  BBYO has made space for learning and reflecting on being actively anti-racist and it is important for all of us to commit to an arc of change, not just for the summer but for the years to come.

Where do we start?  I want to make it  clear,  this is NOT easy and there isn’t one way to begin your journey to  activism. We are at different levels in our activism  but it is up to us to start somewhere. We can start by making the people in our communities feel welcome! This article speaks about how allies can help Jews of Color combat that stranger status for Jews of Color in their community.  As you keep empowering your teens, think about your and your community’s blind spots. Are you consulting  other Jews of Color in your community  when you host programming?  Are you bringing in representative voices to your events, not just the social justice ones? Is your chapter leadership diverse? Create some time for self-education. In order to become an ally, we must first understand how to dismantle  the very systems  that some of us might be  benefitting  from.  Think about your programming, and have conversations about how the language used, prayers we learn, trauma that we want to combat can be  Ashkenormative.  As our Facebook feeds return back to “normal” keep making racial inclusion a priority by making sure 1)  it’s more than being performative 2) it doesn’t leave it to marginalized people to do the work 3) it’s quantified 4) leadership is invested 5) it goes beyond recruitment (list written by Sophie Williams).

Please also help us spread the word – on Wednesdays at 8pm ET, BBYO advisor Jess Attas hosts weekly Members of Color hangouts, where Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Mizrahi, and Sephardi teens can gather for learning, laughter, and exploring their identities. Teens can see the full schedule and register here.

I am excited to keep learning with you  all and  keep calling you into the tent of learning. I leave you with  this piece, written by an incredible  Jewish woman  of Color, about her experience as a Jamaican Jew in America.


Here’s What You Need to Know About Re-opening

As we continue to navigate a world with COVID-19, many of us are wondering when things will go back to “normal” and what “normal” will look like. With communities considering re-opening amid continued levels of uncertainty, we hope to provide some clarity around what chapter re-opening should look like.

BBYO is working to mirror the CDC’s guidelines for re-opening in phases. Your regional director will consult with BBYO’s leadership team to determine which BBYO phase best fits your community at any given moment, and share that information with you. The requirements for each phase will continuously be re-evaluated as society learns more about COVID-19.

Once your region is cleared to re-open, here are three important things to know

  • On re-opening, you’ll start in Phase 1, which means events and meetings will be capped at 10 teens and 1 adult. Events should be held outdoors, weather permitting. No overnights are permitted. As of now, only members are allowed to participate (no prospects), and everyone must pre-register for the event in advance on myBBYO.
  • All advisors must sign a waiver prior to staffing anything in person. If you don’t feel comfortable staffing just yet, that’s okay – you don’t need to sign until you’re ready. By now, you should have received an individual link via DocuSign. If you have not received yours, please contact [email protected].
  • It’s crucial that your chapter meets the following three criteria, regardless of whether you feel comfortable staffing events. They must: a) put every event onto myBBYO, b) have an adult staff present responsible for ensuring health and safety, and c) keep an accurate attendance list for each event (we’re rolling out attendance by text – here’s how it works)

Please click here for a full rundown of advisor information on re-opening, along with some frequently asked questions. Spend some time reviewing  it carefully: we’re asking every advisor to become familiar with its contents so that you can best support your chapter in creating a healthy environment and managing risk upon resuming  activities.

Your local staff will be in touch shortly with community-specific details and to schedule re-opening trainings, if they haven’t done so already. If you have questions or would like to learn more, we’re hosting an Advisor Office Hours on Wednesday, July 22 at 8:30pm ET.

We know that this may add some additional work to your plate, but we are here to support you, and we’re so grateful for your partnership. At the end of the day, health and safety of our teens, staff, and advisors will always be our number one priority.


Apply to Be a Jewish Enrichment Focus Chapter!

Want to help your chapter up their Jewish enrichment game? We’re thrilled to launch BBYO Jewish Enrichment Focus Chapters for the 2020-2021 school year! North American chapters are eligible to apply for special coaching, mentoring, and funding to elevate Jewish moments throughout the calendar year. If selected, chapters will be paired with a Jewish Education Consultant who will provide individualized coaching for your chapter, and help your chapter elevate programming around Global Shabbat, J-Serve, Jewish holidays, Shabbat and more, as well as infuse Judaism organically into everyday chapter projects.

Work with your teen leaders to apply here today – applications are due by Wednesday, August 5. For any questions, email Alana Ebin, Director of Jewish Enrichment, at [email protected]


Did You Meet Your Beshert in BBYO?

As we look ahead to Tu B’Av, a Jewish day of love and friendship on August 4 – 5, we’re looking for stories from our advisors and alumni who met their spouse or partner through BBYO! Take a stroll down memory lane and share your story with us — we’ll feature some of these stories on BBYO Insider next month as we celebrate this fun and lighthearted holiday!


Help with an Advisor Study

Maja Vizentaner, 2019 Advisor of the Year and current Regional Director of BBYO Balkans and Director of Teen Leadership for Eastern Europe, is doing some research for grad school. She’d like to survey BBYO advisors on how their local staff’s leadership style influences their satisfaction with advising. The survey is completely anonymous and will help give us insight on how your local staff can best support you. You can take the survey here by Monday, August 3.

As always, if you have any questions (or have an amazing advisor candidate to refer!), please reach out to Amanda Cohen, BBYO’s Director of Chapter and Advisor Experience at [email protected]