Advisor Connect

October 2019

From the CEO

Dear Advisors,

Welcome to our inaugural edition of Advisor Connect, a quarterly newsletter designed to help keep you up to date with goings on in the Order. As advisors, you are the backbone of our Movement, empowering our teens and chapters to learn and grow beyond their wildest dreams. We know that one of the most important ways for us to achieve our mission of bringing meaningful experiences to Jewish teens is by partnering with you, so thank you for all that you do.

In each issue of Advisor Connect you’ll find news about upcoming events, professional development opportunities, advisor wins, and thoughts from our Wellness and Jewish Enrichment teams. We’re excited to offer you this easy way to stay informed and in touch. Wishing you all a happy and successful year ahead, and I look forward to meeting many of you on my travels throughout the world in the coming weeks and months.


Matthew Grossman


Welcome from Amanda

Hi everyone! I’m Amanda Cohen in the newly created role of Director of Chapter and Advisor Experience, and I’m thrilled to be focused on providing renewed support for all facets of our advisors’ work. I feel so fortunate to be able to bring my experience as a former chapter advisor of Josephine Esther Mentzer BBG #2540 (Mountain View, CA) and former Regional Director in Central Region West #45 to my new role, and I look forward to partnering with all of you this year.

Through surveys, focus groups, and conversations with many of you (thank you!), I wanted to take this opportunity to share a snapshot of our vision and strategy for advisor support in the coming year, along with some exciting things to expect. We envision: 

  • A BBYO where advisors, staff, and teens are aligned as one team working together 

  • Where core advisor functionalities (e.g. health, safety, policy) are easily streamlined so that you can focus on coaching and mentoring 

  • Where teens see and appreciate the unique value and expertise that you bring to the table. 

  • A robust, connected network of advisors around the globe, where you can exchange ideas, share best practices, and tap into trainings and resources quickly and easily 

With this, we’ll be focusing around a few priority areas of advisor support: 

  • Onboarding for new advisors 

  • Elevated training and advisor development opportunities 

  • Streamlined and efficient communication 

  • Advisor appreciation 

  • Advisor recruitment 

Expect some exciting things from us this year, including an online advisor hub for resources at your fingertips, a revitalized Facebook group for collaboration, professional development opportunities, and more. Also, open lines of communication are important to me: 

  • You can always feel free to drop me a question, a comment, or just say hello at [email protected]

  • Parents are also an important part of the work you do in your chapters, and I encourage you to take a look at the most recent edition of Parent Pulse, our bi-monthly parent newsletter. 

  • And whenever and if ever you feel so inclined, I’d invite you to submit something to our Advisor Suggestion Box. Is there a resource you’d like to see us produce? Expertise that you’d want to share with the advisor community? A favorite resource you want to offer widely? Advice?  We want to hear it! 

I look forward to partnering with you as we build an unstoppable advisor community together. Here’s to a meaningful year ahead, and all the teens you’ll impact along the way. 

Amanda Cohen
Director, Chapter and Advisor Experience
[email protected] 


Professional & Advisor Development Opportunities

You asked and we listened. Through a partnership with Gratz NEXT and generous funding from the Maimonides Fund, we’re excited to offer all BBYO advisors free online professional development courses that focus on growing skills and confidence in leading teens in meaningful Jewish experiences. Class webinars may be viewed online beginning November 11, and you can watch modules at your convenience over the following weeks. Register here, and find FAQs and course descriptions here.

Course offerings include:

  • Navigating and Nurturing Complicated Conversations with Teens with Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath, M.A

  • The (Jewish) Pursuit of Happiness Through Positive Psychology with Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath, M.A

  • Inclusion as a Jewish Value: How and Why with Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, M.A.

  • Values in Action: Torah, Teens, and Today's Headlines with Laurie Fisher M.A.J.Ed., M.A.J.S.  


Advisor Wins

With 600 advisors for 700 chapters in 51 countries, advisors are doing incredible things all across the globe. Here’s a few #AdvisorWins we’re celebrating:

  • 20 advisors in Great Midwest Region gathered for a Shabbat dinner earlier this month: everyone came together to kick off the year, welcome new advisors to the team, and spend some quality time together getting to build community outside of typical chapter programming.

  • A shout out to Jordan Finewax and Adam Goodman of Magen AZA #2360 in Lake Ontario Region. Local staff share that they are hands-on with their board without being overbearing, they always know the temperature of the chapter, they always make themselves available for weekend programs, and they're always willing to go the extra mile and lend their expertise when planning conventions.

  • Our advisors in Barcelona, Kevin Eljarrat and Dina Mouyal Amselem, are exceeding all expectations. They are showing an incredible commitment to building BBYO in Spain and are helping to empower teens across Barcelona and throughout the country to run excellent events for the community. For the past few years, Spain has sent delegates to International Convention as representatives of a partner youth network, but after seeing the power of BBYO, the communities are beginning the process of transitioning into official BBYO chapters with Alephs and BBGs. The teens who came to IC and August Execs are now running regular events bringing together dozens of new and excited teens, and they're consistently participating in Movement Initiatives. Through Kevin and Dina’s support, BBYO is ensuring that more Jewish teens in Spain are having positive and exciting Jewish experiences. We are so proud of the work that Kevin and Dina are doing to engage and unite Jewish teens across Spain, and can't wait to see what the future holds under their leadership!

Is an advisor in your community doing something awesome you’d like to highlight? Send #AdvisorWins to [email protected]


More Meaningful Jewish Experiences

This section will feature thoughts from members of our Jewish Enrichment team. Our inaugural message comes from Rachel Dingman, Director of Jewish Enrichment.

Judaism teaches us that we need to give according to what we can give. While this theme is typically applied to how we give charity, the Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested this applies to how we give of ourselves as well. The Rebbe would remark that “If only you know aleph (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet)—teach aleph!” He would add that there is no man or woman in Israel who cannot, in some way, influence people.

We see in the Torah that Moses had multiple people that influenced his journey to becoming one of our tradition’s greatest leaders. One of those people was his father-in-law Jethro who advised him on how to create court systems. To me, this story highlights that every lesson (from Gd teaching Jewish law to Jethro teaching about building society) is important in creating a Jewish leader. Jewish Enrichment and learning can live in everything we do at BBYO—not just in the ritual moments or the moments led by our Sh’lichim. Every Jewish memory you share, every time you coach them through a challenging interaction, every time you mentor them on how to facilitate a meaningful program, every time you talk about Shabbat with them—you are shaping their identity as a Jewish leader.

Each member of the BBYO community has something unique to offer to the growth and development of our Jewish teens. I hope that each of you feel empowered to share whatever your “Aleph” may be, knowing that you play a crucial role in shaping our leaders. 


Teen Wellness

This section will feature information about current events and challenges in adolescent mental health and development, as well as tips for handling issues, resources, and more, from our wellness and inclusion team.

Teens experience a variety of physical, mental, social, and emotional changes as they move through adolescence. These changes look different in all teens and some of the changes can also mimic the symptoms of mental illness – mood changes, decreased/increased appetite, sleeplessness or excessive tiredness, irritability. It’s important to understand that if a change in a teen is impacting their ability to function in BBYO or their everyday life, if they are withdrawing from family and friends, or if they are no longer wanting to engage in activities they once enjoyed, or there is a drastic change in their behavior they may be experiencing a mental health challenge, rather than a typical adolescent change.

Teens have protective factors that affect their resiliency to assist in their navigation through these changes and challenges that adolescence presents. Protective factors may include a sense of spirituality, good self-esteem, good support system, and a sense of community. The most important protective factor is a positive relationship with one safe adult. As an advisor, you play a critical role in BBYO teen development. Your role-modeling, mentorship, healthy boundaries, and support can not only help who these teens become, but also can impact their long-term health and wellbeing. You have the incredible ability to build a teen’s lifelong resiliency.

In order to best support your teens, be sure you are setting up a safe space for them to express themselves. It is alright to let them know if you have noticed a change, or if you are concerned about them. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when talking with them:

  • Listen, let the teen talk. 

  • Let the teen guide the conversation.  

  • Ask open-ended questions. 

  • Keep questions simple. 

  • Do not push or pry. A teen might not be ready to share.  

  • It’s not your job to investigate.  

It is not your role to solve teen mental health problems. It is critical that you work with the teen to connect them to appropriate resources, and connect with the BBYO staff to inform them of any concerns you may have about a teen. If you suspect abuse or neglect, you MUST make a report to the appropriate authorities. BBYO staff are here to support you, and if you suspect abuse you must report up to BBYO staff and work with them to make a report out to the authorities.

Don’t forget - you have the power to change teen’s lives. Thank you for all that you do! 
Drew Fidler, LCSW-C 
Director, Center for Adolescent Wellness
[email protected]
Ari Handel, LSW, MSW 
Director of Inclusion
[email protected]