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JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® Augments Efforts to Support Teens in Jewish Military Families Through Alliance with BBYO

August 8, 2023

Debbie Shemony, SVP, Marketing & Communications, BBYO | [email protected]
Joanne Harmon, Chief Marketing Officer, JCC Association | [email protected]

JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® Augments Efforts to Support Teens in Jewish Military Families
Through Alliance with BBYO
BBYO engagement will join other JWB initiatives that bring Jewish life to military families worldwide

NEW YORK & WASHINGTON, DC JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® (JWB) and BBYO are partnering to enable Jewish teens currently enrolled in grades eight through 12, with at least one parent on active duty in the U.S. military or diplomatic corps, to join a local BBYO chapter at no cost. Teens will maintain their membership status in BBYO, even if the family moves to a new duty station and will be eligible for discounts and scholarships for BBYO regional, national, and international events. A signature program of JCC Association of North America, JWB is strategically augmenting its efforts to bring opportunities for Jewish living, learning, and celebrating to the families of U.S. military personnel in locations around the world.

According to Rabbi Irving Elson, director of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, “Engaging teens who move from place to place often, especially outside the United States, can be challenging. This partnership with BBYO—one of several targeted efforts through which JWB supports young people whose daily lives often include loneliness and rootlessness—fills a unique need and helps ensure that teens in Jewish military families don’t miss out on important elements of Jewish life.”

Our collaboration with JWB is such a great fit, especially since we both share a commitment to religious pluralism, which is a core component of BBYO’s mission and programming,” said Debbie Shemony, senior vice president of marketing, BBYO. “As part of this initiative, we will outreach to Jewish teens in military families to offer year-round engagement and points of connection, opportunities to build new friendships, and a chance to build a strong Jewish identity and a lifelong commitment to Jewish life.”

This newest initiative with JWB expands the relationship between JCC Association and BBYO, which includes BE WELL, a collaboration between JCC Talent and BBYO’s Center for Adolescent Wellness. The cohort-based, four-part virtual series equips JCC professionals with tools to recognize and respond to signs of mental, emotional, and social health struggles in adolescents and young adults. In another JCC Association-BBYO collaboration, JCC Maccabi®, a signature program of JCC Association, partnered with BBYO to run their sports day at BBYO International Convention 2023 and BBYO partnered with Hang Time, a component of the JCC Maccabi Games® that gives athletes opportunities to learn about Israel from shlichim from Israel’s Maccabi Movement.

This alliance makes it possible for teens, whose parents’ professional responsibilities can make it difficult for the family to engage with the Jewish community, to connect—and stay connected—at a critically important time in their lives. Among other opportunities JWB brings to Jewish military families to establish and maintain Jewish communal ties are Operation Summer Camp, offering a summer home to which campers can return each year, transformative Jewish experiences, and opportunities to build and nurture their own Jewish identity, and the Joint Religious Education Program (JREP), which provides accessible, high-quality K-12 and adult Jewish education to participants at no cost, regardless of religious background or affiliation.

JWB also continues to build a cadre of Jewish military chaplains to support active-duty, Jewish soldiers, sailors, and Marines by offering scholarships to rabbinical and cantorial students who commit to serving this country and the Jewish people following ordination from an accredited seminary. This spring three active-duty and two reserve chaplains will join the chaplains’ ranks, bringing the total number of active-duty Jewish chaplains to 23 and augmenting the programs, services, and support JWB’s Jewish military chaplains and lay leaders can provide to approximately 42,000 individuals—Jews and people of other faiths on active-duty and those who are related to them as partners, children, or dependents.


About BBYO

BBYO is the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences. Since its founding nearly 100 years ago, BBYO’s purpose has been to unleash the power of youth. BBYO‘s leadership programs, the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA, high school fraternity) and the B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG, high school sorority), have been providing exceptional leadership programs and identity enrichment experiences, shaping the confidence and character of hundreds of thousands of alumni who are among the most prominent figures in business, politics, academia, the arts, and Jewish communal life. Together, AZA and BBG form a global Jewish teen movement in over 60 countries around the world that now approaches its Centennial anniversary. With year-round activities in hundreds of local

communities, a plethora of summer leadership programs, and inspiring worldwide travel experiences, BBYO’s programs enable teens to explore all facets of leadership, service, civic engagement, Israel education, and Jewish values. For more information on BBYO, please visit our website and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please note that BBYO should not be referred to as the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization but rather as “BBYO.”

About JCC Association of North America

JCC Association of North America leads the JCC Movement, which includes more than 170 Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) and is the most expansive platform for Jewish life in the U.S. and Canada. With 12,000 full-time professionals, 23,000 part-time staff, and 20,000 seasonal staff, the movement also is the largest employer on North America’s Jewish communal landscape. For more than a century, JCC Association has valued and nurtured the growth of these professionals, along with the movement’s 3,000+ lay leaders, providing them all with a breadth and depth of offerings to help them meet the evolving needs of the 1.5 million weekly in-person and online visitors they serve, including individuals, families, communal groups, and others. By virtue of its size and scope and guided and supported by JCC Association, the JCC Movement dynamically influences efforts to create Jewish community, vibrant Jewish life, and intentional and measurable Jewish outcomes—in local communities and across the continent. Learn more at or on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Please note that JCC Association of North America should not be referred to as JCCA or the JCC Association but initially as JCC Association of North America and as JCC Association in subsequent references.

About JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®

JWB Jewish Chaplains Council® (JWB) is a nonprofit, U.S. government-accredited agency that serves the religious needs of Jewish military personnel and their families, wherever they serve, as well as patients in VA hospitals. Founded in 1917, on the cusp of World War I, the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), as it was known at the time, sought to serve young Jewish men entering the military. Today, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, a signature program of JCC Association of North America, continues this work by honoring the service of Jewish men and women in the United States armed forces, safeguarding their rights, fulfilling their spiritual needs, and combating loneliness and isolation.


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