Jewish Enrichment

Strengthening Jewish identities since 1924

Everything that we do in AZA and BBG is inherently Jewish. By creating a space for Jewish teens to hang out and be themselves, we are building Jewish identities. By actively participating in ongoing community service efforts, we are instilling Jewish values. By using our Movement to be inclusive and lead, we are ensuring a vibrant Jewish future. At the end of the day, this is why we do what we do.

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Our experiences have meaning and depth because they are rooted in Jewish values. More than carrying on the tradition of Alephs and BBGs before us, by participating in BBYO, we are carrying on the legacy of the Jewish people. AZA and BBG are a platform to learn about Jewish history, ask why, participate in Jewish traditions, and celebrate our People.

To guide our experiences we use Kivun, our educational framework designed around three main outcomes. We hope that members are able to identify a stronger Jewish identity, connect to their Jewish community, and want to improve the world. If you feel these ideas taking root within you, we know we're doing our job. These outcomes are important to think about when creating experiences in AZA and BBG.

Strengthen Jewish Identity

  • We feel confident questioning and integrating Jewish principles about G-d, Torah, history, traditions, and culture into our lives.

  • We respect diversity within the Jewish community and in the world

  • We use leadership skills to help others develop their own Jewish pride, connections and commitment

Create Jewish Community

  • We have caring and respectful relationships with our Jewish peers

  • We understand the role that Israel plays for the Jewish people around the world

  • We promote the inclusion of all Jews into a pluralistic Jewish community

Change the World

  • We understand current social issues

  • We use Jewish values to guide involvement in our community service efforts

  • We use leadership skills to mobilize around social issues

Pluralism

AZA and BBG are a place for every Jewish teen regardless of background, denominational affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, or socioeconomic status. It doesn't matter who you are, you can build and strengthen your Jewish identity here through meaningful relationships and programs. Remember, this is a safe space to be curious about all things Jewish. Challenge yourself to see outside of the lens of Judaism you grew up in at programming—that practice of understanding will help make the world a better place.

Jewish Holidays

Jewish holidays are a core component to the tradition of our people, as well as our programming calendar in BBYO. Learn more about some of the most common Jewish holidays while exploring ways to celebrate with your community.

Rosh Hashana | ראש השנה

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a time of rejoicing and introspection. Our tradition tells us that Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of the day on which the world was created. Jews around the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah, often by gathering together for family meals and attending Rosh Hashana services. Specific Rosh Hashana traditions include eating apples and honey and sounding the shofar.

Special Traditions

  • Apples and Honey: On Rosh Hashana, we dip applies into honey to represent our wishes for a sweet New Year.

  • Shofar: We blow the shofar (ram’s horn) as a wakeup call to repent, as well as to herald in the New Year.

  • Challah: We eat special round-shaped challah to represent the cyclical nature of the year.

  • Prayer: Rosh Hashana services are different than the rest of the year, and are often a mix of solemn and celebratory. For more information and service examples, see here.

  • Tashlich: We do the ritual of tashlich (“cast off”) by throwing pieces of bread into a body of flowing water to represent our sins and misdeeds being carried away. Check out a traditional Tashlich service text here.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions.

Chapter ResourceTraditions

Yom Kippur | יום כיפור

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonment in Hebrew. It is the most serious day of the year and according to Jewish tradition, it is on this day that G-d seals the Book of Life and Death for the coming year. Even if that image is not one that resonates with you, the idea of taking an entire day to reflect on your actions and formulate a plan for improvement in the future is a worthwhile one.

Special Traditions

  • Fasting: To mark the seriousness of Yom Kippur, we abstain rom food or drink for 25 hours. According to Jewish tradition, fasting is viewed as a useful tool for reflection and repentance, and as a mark of self-discipline.

  • Prayer: Yom Kippur prayer tends to be more solemn than other services as we reflect on the coming year and commit to improving. Yom Kippur services also include special prayers like Kol Nidre and Neilah. For more information and service examples, see here.

  • White Clothing: Many people wear white on Yom Kippur to symbolize purity and cleansing.

  • Tzedakah: Tradition holds that giving charity is an important part of the repentance process. Many people deposit money into a tzedakah box before Yom Kippur begins and many synagogues have fundraising appeals.

  • Greetings: Traditionally, people say the Hebrew phrase “G’mar Chatimah Tova” on Yom Kippur which loosely translates to “May you be inscribed for a good year.”

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions.

High Holidays ResourceYom Kippur Resource

Sukkot | סוכות

Sukkot means “booths” or “huts” in Hebrew. It is a festival that commemorates the dwelling of the Israelites in huts during their 40 year journey in the desert. In ancient times, Sukkot celebrated the end of the autumn harvest and was a major pilgrimage festival. Gratitude, appreciation, and rejoicing are major themes of the holiday; in fact, it is referred to in the Torah as Zman Simchateniu, Our Time of Rejoicing. In keeping with the theme of temporary dwellings, Sukkot is also linked to ideas of shelter, transience, and nature.

Special Traditions

  • Sukkah: We spend time in the Sukkah, a temporary outdoor structure. A sukkah must have at least three sides and a roof made of natural materials. It is a mitzvah to decorate your Sukkah beautifully and tradition encourages us to spend as much time in it as possible- some people even sleep there!

  • Ushpizin: Ushpizin is the Aramaic word for guests. On Sukkot we recite a short prayer each night to invite central biblical figures into our Sukkah.

  • Arba Minim/Four Species: The Four Species are four plants—palm, myrtle, willow, and citron. On Sukkot, we are commanded to hold and shake these four species in commemoration of the bounty of the land of Israel.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions.

Chapter Resource

Hanukkah | חנוכה

Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration also known as the Festival of Lights, that marks the victory of a small band of Jews called the Maccabees, over the Syrian Greek Empire in 2nd century BCE. During this time-period the Greeks sought to assimilate the people of Israel by forbidding Torah learning and Jewish practice. The Maccabees revolted and ultimately overpowered the Greeks and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Our tradition tells us that when the Jews attempted to rededicate the holy space by lighting the Temple menorah (Hanukkah means rededication in Hebrew), they found only one vial of pure oil. However, that small vial miraculously burned for eight days and nights. To commemorate and publicize this miracle, and the miracle of winning the war, our Sages instituted the festival of Hanukkah.

Special Traditions

  • Menorah: To commemorate the miracle of the Temple menorah, we light our own menorahs (also called hanukiyot). Each menorah has eight candleholders as well as the shamash (Hebrew for helper). On the first night, we use the shamash to light just one flame, and add another light for each additional night until all eight lights are kindled.

  • Blessings and Songs: We light the menorah with these special blessings and songs.

  • Dreidel: A four-sided spinning top, the dreidel is an ancient children’s game. Legend has it that after the Greeks outlawed the study of Torah, groups would secretly gather in defiance of this decree. When Greek patrols passed by, these groups would quickly pull out dreidels and pretend to be playing instead of studying Torah. Each dreidel has a Hebrew letter on each side- Nun נ, Gimmel ג , Hay ה , Shin ש . The letters stand for Ness Gadol Hayah Sham which means “A Great Miracle Happened There. In Israel the last letter is replaced with Pay and the phrase states Ness Gadol Hayah Poh, “A Great Miracle Happened Here.” Click here to learn the rules of dreidel in 15 seconds!

  • Oil: To mark the miracle of the oil burning for eight nights, we eat fried or oily foods on Hannukah. Traditional Hannukah fare includes latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and sfenj (Morrocan doughnuts).

  • Gelt: Gelt is Yiddish for ‘coins’ or ‘money’, and marks the idea of giving monetary gifts to children on Hanukkah, as well as giving tzedakah to those less fortunate than us. A more recent (and yummy) tradition involves eating chocolate gelt in lieu of real money.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions. These resources were built for Hanukkah 2018/5779.

Chapter ResourceJewish Texts

Tu B'Shvat | ט"ו בשבט

Tu B’Shvat is the official New Year for the trees, also known as “birthday” of all fruit trees. A minor festival that falls on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat (Tu stands for the letters ט tet and  וvav which numerically make up 15), Tu B’Shvat  helped ancient farmers calculate and fulfill several mitzot in the Torah such as ma’aser (tithing of the fruit), and shemitah (the sabbatical year). The early Zionist movement viewed Tu B’Shvat as an important celebration of the effort to regrow and restore the land of Israel, and it has regained popularity in modern times. Today, people also recognize Tu B’Shvat as an important environmental and ecologically focused holiday.

Special Traditions

  • Tu B’Shvat Seder: Based on a Kabbalistic tradition, many people hold Tu B’Shvat Seders, modeled off the Passover Seder. These seders often include special blessings and new fruits, and are thematic in nature.

  • Planting Trees: This tradition, made popular by the modern Zionist movement, encourages people to plant trees in the land of Israel on Tu B’Shvat.

  • Songs: There are many Jewish folk songs sung specifically on Tu B’Shvat such as Hashkeydia Porachat, The Almond Tree is Blooming. For more Tu B’Shvat songs check out this Spotify Playlist.

  • Fruits: We are encouraged to eat new fruits in honor of Tu B’Shvat. More specifically, people try to eat all of the Shivat HaMinim, or Seven Species, which are endemic to the land of Israel. These include wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

  • Blessings: We say the Ha'Etz blessing on fruit, and the Shehecheyanu blessing on new fruits.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions. These resources were built for Tu Bishvat 2019/5779.

Chapter ResourceJewish Texts

Purim | פורים

Purim is a festive holiday celebrated on the 14th of Adar that commemorates the salvation of the Jews from the evil Haman’s intended genocide. The story of Purim is recounted in Megillat Esther, the book of Esther. According to this story, Haman, royal vizier to King Achashverosh, plotted to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire. However, his plan was foiled by Mordechai, a Jewish leader, and his cousin Esther, who was also reigning Queen. To commemorate the miraculous events, Purim (literally “lots”, based on the lots Haman used to determine the date of genocide) was established by the Rabbis and is celebrated by dressing in costume, reading the Megillah, giving gifts to the poor, and having a festive meal.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions. These resources were built for Purim 2019/5779.

General ResourceChapter Resource

Passover | חג פסח

Passover or Pesach is a festival of freedom, commemorating the Jewish People’s redemption from slavery in Egypt. Observance of Passover begins with a Seder, a special ceremonial meal that recounts our story from slavery to freedom through stories, song, and ritual foods. Passover is also traditionally marked with intense dietary changes, such as the absence of chametz, leavened food.

Explore Resources

See how you can bring this Jewish holiday to your community while learning more about the history and traditions. This resource was built for Passover 2019/5779.

Chapter Resource

Lag B'Omer | ל״ג בעומר

Lag B’Omer is a minor Jewish holiday that occurs on the 33 day of the Omer, the seven week counting period between Passover and Shavuot (Lag stands for the letters ל lamed and ג gimmel which numerically make up 33). Lag B’Omer serves as a festive break for the mourning period of the Omer and is usually marked by celebrations. Many have the custom of lighting huge bonfires, making weddings, and getting haircuts in honor of the holiday.

Yom HaShoah | יום השואה

Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a national holiday observed in commemoration for the victims of the Holocaust. Officially established in 1959 by the Israeli government, it is held annually on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. In Israel, the nation observes a two-minute moment of silence and reflection, marked by a long siren. It is a day of mourning; flags are flown at half-mast; no public entertainment events are held and people utilize this time to tell stories of loss and hope in the Holocaust. Many Jews outside of Israel mark Yom HaShoah as well, often with community vigils and educational programs.

Zikaron BaSalon Chapter Initiative

Zikaron BaSalon (Hebrew for "Living Room Memories") is an innovative, meaningful, and personal way to commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) at home with family and friends. Zikaron BaSalon gathers people together to bear witness to the testimonies of survivors, and to think, sing, talk, and most importantly, listen together.

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Yom HaZikaron | יום הזכרון

Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, is a solemn day commemorating Israel’s fallen soldiers and later was extended to commemorate victims of terror as well. Enacted into law in 1963, Yom HaZikaron falls on the 4th of the Jewish month of Iyar. Yom HaZikaron is marked with an initial opening siren at evening, and another siren sounds before the public recitation of prayers in military cemeteries during the day. The entire country comes to a standstill during the sirens and the day is spent mourning and remembering loved ones.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut | יום העצמאות

Yom Ha’Atzamaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is a joyous festival commemorating the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Yom Ha’Atzmaut is celebrated on the 5th of Iyar, the date on which the State of Israel declared its independence in a ceremony led by David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv. Yom Ha’Atzmaut is immediately preceded by Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, and the entire country transitions from mourning to joy together. The day is spent in celebration with public ceremonies, folk dancing, outings, and more. Outside of Israel, many Jews also celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut with festive ceremonies and public gatherings.

Shavuot | חג השבועות

Shavuot is a major festival that celebrates the ancient spring harvest, and marks the day that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. Shavuot means “weeks” in Hebrew and is preceded by a seven-week period called the Omer which begins on Passover. During this time period Jews across the world count each of the 49 days leading up to the holiday in preparation of receiving the Torah. Shavuot is a seminal holiday for the Jewish people, as the receiving of the Torah formally marks our covenant with G-d and establishment as a Jewish nation.

Tisha B'Av | חג השבועות

Tisha B’Av is a fast day and marks the saddest day in the calendar year for the Jewish people. Tisha B’Av remembers the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other major tragedies throughout Jewish history. The three week period leading up to Tisha B’Av is also a time of mourning, and people often refrain from celebratory occasions. On Tisha B’Av, in addition to a 25 hour fast, tradition tells us to refrain from wearing leather shoes and lotions (both signs of luxury), and from doing things that bring joy. Many people spend the day in synagogue reading from Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

Song Leading

Talented Alephs and BBGs from around the world share their musical abilities and apply them to Jewish ritual moments throughout the year and summer. Two common prayer moments that you'll see at conventions and International programs are Friday night Shabbat Ritual prayers and Havdallah on Saturday night. Check out these two videos from some of our favorite song leaders on how the prayers typically sound at our events. If you're ambitious, learn the chords to these prayers and start song leading in your community.

Plan Ahead

There are important dates to keep in mind when prioritizing Jewish Enrichment. These dates include hands-on training opportunities, Movement mobilization moments, registration dates, and Jewish holidays. Throughout the year, the Judaics priority hub (right here!) is where we will host resources and information about Jewish holidays including ideas for how to celebrate or honor these important moments in your chapter. Please note that all holidays begin and end at sundown.

Fall Semester 2019

IC and Summit Registration Opens

September 26

Experience Judaism like you've never seen it before

Rosh Hashana

September 29-October 1
1st of Tishrei, 5779

The Jewish New Year

Yom Kippur

October 8-9
10th of Tishrei, 5779

The Day of Atonement

Sukkot

October 13-22
15th-22nd of Tishrei, 5779

Harvest Festival

Shmini Atzeret

October 21
22nd of Tishrei, 5779

Celebrating the conclusion of Sukkot

Simchat Torah

October 22
23rd of Tishrei, 5779

Celebrating the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah reading

Ambassadors to Ukraine

November 3-10

Attend Active Jewish Teens' International Conference in Ukraine, and learn about the history of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union.

Summer Registration Opens

November 7

Jewish enrichment is a component of all summer experiences.

ISF Hanukkah Campaign

December

Learn about Hanukkah while raising money for ISF.

Global Shabbat

December 13-14

Celebrate the magic of Shabbat alongside thousands of teens worldwide.

Hanukkah

December 22-30
24th of Kislev-2nd of Tevet, 5779

Commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Spring Semester 2020

Tu B'Shvat

February 10
15th of Sh'vat, 5779

The new year of the trees

IC and Summit

February 12-17

Experience Judaism like you've never seen it before.

Purim

March 9-10
14th of Adar II, 5779

Commemorating the saving of the Jewish people from Haman

J-Serve

March 29

Plan or be a part of your community's largest service moment.

Passover

April 8-16
15th-22nd of Nisan, 5779

Commemorating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt

March of the Living

April 19-May 3

A journey through Poland and Israel exploring our dark past and celebrating Jewish vitality.

Yom HaShoah

April 20-21
27th of Nisan, 5779

Holocaust Memorial Day

Yom Hazikaron

April 27-28
4th of Iyyar, 5779

Israeli Memorial Day

Yom Ha'atzmaut

April 28-29
5th of Iyyar, 5779

Israeli Independence Day

Lag Ba'Omer

May 11-12
18th of Iyyar, 5779

The 33rd day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot

Shavuot

May 28-30
6th of Sivan, 5779

Commemorates the giving of the Torah

International Kallah

Be a part of BBYO's premier Jewish learning identity-building program next summer →

Global Shabbat

Spread the light of Shabbat to your community by planning or participating in one of our hundreds of Shabbat experiences around the world in December →

IC Summit

Come to International Convention a day early to dive into our Jewish learning tracks focused on song leading, service, Israel, and spirituality →

Toolbox

Want to keep learning? Explore more Jewish enrichment tools below!

BBYO Sings Songbook

Explore songs from around the world that celebrate our rich tradition and history, learn the words to prayers and how to play them on guitar, and discover the best practices for leading and facilitating services and song session moments.

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Blessing Cards

Find printable cards with some common prayers we say at BBYO programs.

Birkat HaMazonFriday Night Shabbat BlessingsHavdallah

Chapter Initiatives

All of our Chapter Initiatives connect to our Jewish values. Pick up one of these programs to run in your chapter to give members a meaningful experience and connect them to the Movement at large.

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Hanukkah Resources

Get ready for Hanukkah with these helpful resources!

About HanukkahChapter ResourceBlessings and Prayers

High Holidays Resources

All of our Chapter Initiatives connect to our Jewish values. Pick up one of these programs to run in your chapter to give members a meaningful experience and connect them to the Movement at large.

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Movement Initiatives Cheat Sheet

Understand why we run Movement Initiatives and how it ties to our year round MRIHA strategy.

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J-Serve

Stay up to date with all major J-Serve news and resources.

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Jewish Enrichment Guide for Shabbat

This guide is intended to serve as a resource to enrich Shabbat experiences with additional Jewish content and ideas.

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Service Page Number Charts

Find the Siddurim page numbers for all types of services in this handy chart. Siddurim include ArtScroll, Koren Sacks, Sim Shalom, Mishkan Tefillah, and Kol HaNeshema.

Weekday ShacharitWeekday Mincha/Ma'arivKabbalat ShabbatSaturday Morning

Values Dictionary

We do what we do because of our values—our Jewish values. Use these terms to guide conversations, create convention themes, and integrate into programming in any service moment.

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Text Studies

Check out these powerful text studies built for BBYO's Safe Schools Initiative. Utilize these texts to enhance your programming, leadership trainings, services, and more.

On Taking ActionOn ViolenceOn Young People

Travelers' Prayer Cards

This prayer is recited when we travel, by air, sea, and even on long car trips. Print and cut out these cards to give to your board, your chapter, or any of your brothers and sisters. It's always a beautiful gift.

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You've Worked Hard. Let's Celebrate. 🎉

For helping shape others Jewish identities—we want to celebrate you. By enriching our Movement with the beauty and richness of our Jewish traditions, you may be eligible for a number of highly esteemed AZA and BBG International Awards including the Henry Monsky Chapter Excellence, Miriam Albert Chapter Excellence,and Maurice Bisgyer Chapter Excellence Awards. If you know an Aleph or BBG who deserves to be recognized for their work strengthening our priorities, consider nominating them for the Menorah Pledge and Cardinal Principles Awards.

Learn more about your eligibility by exploring these awards below:

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Judaics
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Celebrate