By Robyn Teplitzky
I do not know many people who grow up dreaming of being a Jewish youth group director with long hours, challenging issues, and meddling parents. However, I chose a career path of social work and Jewish community as a direct result of my teen years in BBYO and served as the director of youth and young adults for the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven.
My high school years (1978-1982), revolved around my involvement in AER (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt) BBG chapter. I attended weekly chapter meetings and always anticipated regional events and volleyball games.
My most cherished memories are of Connecticut Valley Region (CVR)conventions in the Catskill Mountains at the Paramount or Echo Hotels with friends from across the state and my summer spent at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania.
I have vivid memories of the BBG “folds” – BBYO’s core values and specific areas of focus, including Judaism, tzedekah, Israel and mitzvot – that guided us in our Judaic programming, community service experiences, fundraising, and leadership development. From father-daughter Shabbat dinners to crossing a picket line at the Jewish Home for the Aged to serving meals to egg sales and ‘top-less’ car washes to Chapter Leadership Training Conferences (CLTC), my leadership skills were built on the positive experiential exercises I had growing up with the guidance of strong advisors and mentors.
As a freshman at the University of Miami, my interest and skill set fostered new relationships and involvement at Hillel and in many different campus organizations. Early on, I had opportunities to take on leadership roles and develop new and creative programs. Travel opportunities to Washington, D.C. as a member of the Hillel Secretariat, to Israel for the UJA Universities Campus program, to Poland as a the Southeast representative for the March of the Living, inspired me to continue to pursue my passion and attend Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University.
Throughout the years, I maintained my involvement with (CVR) BBYO. As a parent and alum, I worked with others committed to Jewish youth engagement and education to host reunions and fundraisers to support the program. Many of the committee members are old friends who were in leadership programs with me at school.
The lifelong friendships I made continue today. I never know where or when someone will reconnect from my BBG days. Several years ago, while attending the National Lion of Judah Conference (donors to the annual Jewish Federation campaign), I heard someone call out my maiden name (I have been married 29 years). It turned out to be a BBG sister who relocated to Jacksonville, Florida many years ago. It was great to catch up with her and even better when I had business in her hometown and we met for lunch. Just recently, I went to New York City to see BBG friends I had not seen in 20 years!
In celebration of BBG’s 75th anniversary, past BBG members, current parents and BBG girls have been working to host a multi-generational, interactive seder. Unfortunately, due to the cornoavirus, the program is postponed. However, this is a true labor of love to honor the past and confirm a strong future.
The theme, L’dor V’Dor – from generation to generation – demonstrates the bonds that will always hold us together and provide a legacy of leadership and community involvement.
Robyn Teplitzky, MSW, is founder and owner of RKT Consulting Group. Born and raised in Hamden, she is ormer senior director of the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence of the Jewish Federations of North America, and immediate past Connecticut regional chair and a national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League. She is currently a consultant for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and Emory University; JScreen, a Jewish genetic screening program.
Main Photo: The planning committee for the Connecticut Valley Region (CVR) BBYO 80th celebration held January 2019: All are CVR alumni who were group leaders in the 1970s and 1980s. They are (l to r) Lanni and Debbie Boles, Sharon Sax, Marcie Carlson, Sharon Petshraft, Robyn Teplitzky, Randy Schulman, Annie Sales Block and Mark Block.