How to Help Your Teen Navigate Modern Antisemitism

The Colleyville, Texas attack is a tragic reminder that hate still lives amongst our community, and it can especially be upsetting for our teens. However, antisemitism doesn’t always show up as bluntly as it did at Congregation Beth Israel; today, it can appear in many forms, including your teen’s school, neighborhood, social media, and sports teams. Many teens are unprepared for how to identify or combat it, and it’s our responsibility as parents, educators, and community leaders to provide resources to guide them through it

Together, you and your family can identify ways to make a difference in your teen’s circles–both online and offline. Here are some ways we suggest you get started. 

How Can My Teen Identify Modern Antisemitism?

Social media and recent politics seem to intensify antisemitism and how it appears in our daily lives. It’s no question that many people are using these platforms to push their own hateful agenda and ideals, and sadly, the Jewish people are often a scapegoat for societal conditions.  

Your teen may encounter antisemitism in a variety of forms, including:

  • Swastikas or other hate symbols appearing on or near belongings or public property
  • References to KKK or other hate groups
  • Antisemitic comments on social media
  • Antisemetic Instagram or TikTok accounts with hate-filled content
  • Ignorant or uninformed passing comments by peers
  • Being singled out or ostracized for being Jewish 
  • Jokes about Jewish people, stereotypes or tradition

The first step is to talk to your teen about these identifiers and see if they have any questions about how it could be appearing in their lives. Creating an open dialogue and a comfortable space for your teen to ask questions and share their experiences is crucial in this process, and this is a great place to start. 

Standing Up to Antisemitism

Teens have the power to help other teens learn and grow. Confronting a hurtful or mean remark early on may help individuals understand the harm of their words.

If the comments or actions of others cause your teen to become uncomfortable with his or her Jewish identity, or make them feel unsafe, then the issue should be addressed immediately. 

Standing up to or starting a conversation about antisemitism isn’t easy–but it is often necessary. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single response to antisemitism that will apply to every situation. 

Here are four keys to successfully reacting to antisemitism:

Be Prepared

The best way to make a good decision in a bad or emotionally charged situation is to practice your responses before something happens. You and your teen together can troubleshoot ways to handle it by role-playing or talking your teen through scenarios where it may be beneficial to start a conversation with an individual using hateful language.

Assess the Situation

Before confronting an individual, your teen should know a few things to decide how to proceed. This includes determining:

  • How close you are to this person–friend, teammate, acquaintance, stranger, etc.
  • The intention of the comment or action–hurtful, offensive, or made out of ignorance
  • The individual’s mood/demeanor
  • The emotions you teen is feeling
  • If the environment is safe and you could seek help if necessary

Calmly Choose Your Response

Based on the quick assessment and practiced responses, your teen should have a good idea of how to proceed. 

Remind your teen that if strong emotions are involved (from either party), it would be wise to have a cooling-off period before talking with the individual. Anger, frustration, and resentment are powerful emotions. When they take over our core, it’s nearly impossible to remain calm and rational. 

Sometimes addressing an antisemitic comment can be easy as saying, “I know you didn’t mean any harm, but what you just said hurts.” This comment works two ways–you send an important message about the power of words without shaming the individual.

Other times, standing up to antisemitism isn’t as easy. And, sadly, some people won’t change no matter what is said. While they have a right to their opinion, they do not have the right to make others feel bad about who they are.

Talk to an Adult

If your teen feels unsafe because of someone’s actions, explain the importance of involving an adult like a parent, teacher, coach, or another community leader.

Opening up to an adult may be difficult for some teens. Many believe they are old enough to handle things on their own. Others don’t know how to articulate what they are feeling. Some teens don’t want to get their parents involved at all.

As a parent, your teen’s lack of communication may be frustrating. You know something is wrong, but your teen is distant or avoids specific topics. 

Provide a non-judgmental, open atmosphere where your teen feels safe to talk. Some teens may benefit from counseling to help work through the sadness, anxiety, or other difficult emotions from being targeted by antisemitic behavior. 

If you need more guidance and information about talking to your teen, this handout from Words to Action is an excellent resource for addressing antisemitism. 

Being Proactive in Stopping Antisemitism 

It’s encouraging to see many young people embracing social justice and equality for all. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever for them to stay connected, organize events, and form tight-knit communities–both online and in-person.

Families who want to get support in addressing and challenging anti-sematism can visit the  ADL resource page. Here you can find tools for talking with teens, taking action online and offline, and connecting with local groups that are exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online.

If your teen is in college,, is a portal to report antisemitic incidents on North American college campuses. Submissions can be anonymous, but providing contact information helps the organization assist the victim and provide support. 

JBridge is also here to promote activities and clubs that work towards social justice and standing up to antisemitism, so be sure to follow us on your favorite social media platform.

3 Goals to Prioritize With Your Teen in 2022

When we think of some of the more common and popular New Year’s resolutions that seem to be promoted in mainstream media, they may seem a bit shallow, vague, or out of reach. 

Look better, be more productive, work harder, be happier!

And yet, unfortunately for most people, these resolutions are forgotten a week or so into the new year. This can be especially discouraging for teens.

Instead of setting unclear, unattainable resolutions, we suggest using the spirit of a new year as the foundation for a better future for your and your family. How? Discuss with your teen the importance of setting healthy, fulfilling goals that are sustainable. Talk about how small changes now can lead to big differences in their personal, social, and emerging professional lives.

Here are some goals you and your teen can work on together for a happier, healthier new year. 

Get Better Sleep

It should be no surprise that growing teen bodies require a higher quality sleep. Just about every part of the body experiences changes during sleep, and the brain and body slow down so that powerful healing, recovery, and rejuvenation can takes place. 

According to John Hopkins Medicine, teens need about 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep a night. This is actually more sleep than grade school children need! As teens enter a new stage of cognitive maturation, the extra sleep helps support their developing brains. 

The holiday break probably disrupted sleep patterns in a lot of ways – no school, holiday parties, visiting family, and less restrictive bed times are some of the common culprits. But as we begin the new year, it’s important to get back (or start) a routine that will ensure your teen is getting enough quality sleep.

Getting started is easy: Simply start by having an open conversation with your teen about the importance of sleep and how it will positively impact their moods, energy, and emotional and mental wellbeing. 

Next, help them create ground rules and routines that feel challenging yet doable. Set a time to unplug from electronics. Then dim the lights, lower the temperature in the house by a couple degrees, and create a relaxing atmosphere that they can settle into. It’s also an excellent time to meditate and reflect on the day (more on this in a moment).

While it’s not always easy with teens, be firm with the bedtime and don’t allow any tech into the bedrooms if it can be avoided. As with most changes, there will be resistance…we’re talking about a teenager, after all. Be patient and calm as the routine is being established. Don’t get into a power struggle right before bed where both of you will be too wound up to fall asleep.

Instead of being a constant authoritarian, get your teen to see the benefits of this new routine. Ask if there are any changes in concentration, energy, or mood throughout the day. Check in with your teen each morning and track how this experience is going for them.

Self-Reflection by Meditating & Journaling

Encourage your teen to spend some time each day in quiet self-reflection. In the moments of meditation and/or journaling, your teen begins a deeper dive into self-discovery. Slowly, it becomes an opportunity for understanding how the outer and inner worlds are affecting thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 

These bits of self-discovery and understanding can have a huge impact on emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and deepening the spiritual connection.

In a world filled with distractions, however, encouraging your teen to spend some quiet time with her own thoughts can be a challenge. Meditation takes patience and practice. Sitting quietly and observing thoughts can be overwhelming initially. 

Here’s some good news…there’s no right way to meditate or journal. And there are so many resources out there to make both of these activities easier to learn and practice. Encourage your teen to try different types of meditation or use journaling prompts.

Starting small is also helpful. Set a goal for your teen to choose 5 minutes of either meditating or journaling each day. Slowly build from there.

Working self-reflection into the evening routine is a great way to establish two great habits at once. The calming effects of meditation can help your teen fall asleep faster, and journaling enables your teen to take thoughts out of the mind and putting them elsewhere, which may decrease worry and stress at bedtime.

Give Back to the Community  

Being well-rested and more self-aware is a great start! But there is a power in being a part of something bigger than yourself and developing a deeper connection to your community. 

Volunteering and community service are beneficial for teens on so many levels. Not only are they helping those in need, but they also get to see firsthand how their actions can impact others. It is also an opportunity to change perspectives, develop interpersonal skills, and interact positively with peers. 

Plus, it looks great on a resume or college application, of course!

Encourage your teen to join a group or community service project that aligns with his interests. For example, if your teen loves to read, you two could explore opportunities to become a reading tutor.

Luckily, there are many great community service projects in the area. We have a list that we keep updated on our Volunteer Page

Making the Goals Stick

You’re probably imagining your teen rolling her eyes as you mention these goals. 

Sit quietly? Unplug from my device? Go and do what now?

Change isn’t easy. It’s not like flicking on a light switch. Start small. Plant some seeds. Set a goal your teen will enjoy accomplishing. Reward the accomplishment. Build from there. 

Remember: At this point in life, your teen is developing an identity. Avoid lecturing or preaching to your child. Present information in ways your teen can arrive at his own conclusions and feel empowered to take on these goals themselves. 

With a little patience, creativity, and nurturing, it’s certainly possible for your teen to be enjoying the rewards of these goals throughout the year. 

Now go enjoy enjoy your 2022!

Why Finding A Mentor For Your Teen Is So Valuable

What a year it’s been, am I right? While we all anxiously wait to see what 2021 has in store, it’s hard to ignore the impact that 2020, and more specifically COVID-19, has had on our community. Bay Area teens (and teens throughout the world) were especially challenged this past year with at-home learning, isolation from friends, canceled extracurricular activities, and countless unknowns about the future. And while we at JBridge know the impact that mentorship can have on our youth, it’s essential that, now more than ever, parents and community leaders alike also understand the value of providing extra support for our youth. 

Here are a few reasons that helping teens find a quality adult mentor can transform their sense of confidence, fulfillment and focus in these difficult times. 

1. Mentors create a space centered around listening and providing support 

Mentors can provide a listening ear and a space solely focused on your teen. As life somehow feels even busier than it did before COVID, teens can benefit from uninterrupted, focused time and space to share challenges, celebrate milestones, and connect with an individual willing to validate experiences and offer guidance.  

2. Mentors provide guidance to help your teen think through next steps 

The teenage years place a lot of pressure on young people to think about the future. High schoolers spend countless hours agonizing over choosing the “right” gap year program, attending the perfect college or trade school, applying for that career-advancing job or internship, or considering their long-term professional paths. For Jewish teens of color, these decisions are further compounded by the ongoing racial injustices in our society, and how they interact with future planning. 

An adult mentor is there to talk through these important life choices,and reinforce a teen’s intuition and decision-making skills. Mentors can share experiences from their own life,  and offer perspectives reflective of the time they had during and after their own years in high school. 

3. Mentors provide an outside perspective 

Teens are hard-wired to test boundaries and pull away from their parents. While this can be a painful and challenging truth, an adult mentor who is not living day-to-day with your child is well-positioned to share truths and lessons learned.. Often, advice that would be met with resistance when supplied by a parent lands differently when suggested from a neutral party. 

4. Mentor/mentee relationships are mutually beneficial

A teen asking adults to be their mentor out of respect and appreciation for their input is one of the most flattering gifts someone can receive. And 9 times out of 10, they’ll say yes! Just as your teen will grow from working with a mentor, the mentor will learn, develop, and invest in the relationship as well. Authentic mentorship connections can span for years, and can also serve to open unexpected doors down the line for both mentor and mentee. 

5. Having an extra adult who cares deeply about your child is a priceless gift

Above all, true mentors are invested in your teen’s growth and success. They want to know how your child is doing, are there to support them through challenges and feel genuinely excited to celebrate your teen’s triumphs. Invested mentors have a pulse on what’s happening in your teen’s life and a sixth sense as to when your teen needs additional guidance. As your teen builds their tribe, it’s wonderful to know they have the benefit of an additional devoted adult in their corner.

Every parent wants their children to thrive, to discover their unique path, and to feel confident in their choices as they move through these transformative years. And while parents are so formative in a teen’s life, it often takes a village to ensure that teens are being supported from all angles. Trust us – finding a quality mentor for your teen might be the best thing you do in this new season, whether it’s a youth group leader, a counselor, a rabbi, a coach, or just a fantastic community member you know and respect. 

Here at JBridge, you’ll find countless programs and opportunities for your teen to connect with adults who care about your children’s development and are here to help them navigate through these tumultuous times. No matter what your teens are currently experiencing, know that they are not alone, that you as a parent are not alone, and that we are here to support you every step of the way!

Jewish Summer Camp: Why It’s One Of The Best Gifts You’ll Ever Give Your Child

While we all know how hard it is to plan for the future right now, the Bay Area Jewish community is looking towards summer 2021 with optimism and excitement around the potential for our Jewish summer camps to collectively run in-person experiences once again!  After months of shelter-in-place, countless families are holding out hope for the prospect of adventurous outdoor exploration, silly evening programming, and lively Shabbat community celebrations. While there are so many reasons to consider Jewish summer camp for your child in any given year, here are a few reasons to consider a summer at camp post-pandemic:

1. Camp builds independence: Quarantine has pushed families physically closer than ever before, and many families are enjoying this newfound time together. On the flip side, the increased family interactions provide fewer opportunities for the identity exploration and independence usually synonymous with the teenage years. 

Camp challenges teens to problem-solve amongst peers, build communication and self-advocacy skills, and test out new identities. It provides opportunities for teens to make their own choices and try new activities, pushing them to expand their comfort zones and grow in the process.

2. Camp infuses Jewish values into every activity, setting the stage for ongoing activism: The current moment presents us with ample opportunity to stand up for causes we believe in and be active participants in the public space. Jewish camps are grounded in values like kehillah (community), omez lev (courage), and tikkun olam (repairing the world). By living 24-hours in a setting focused on building these values, teens can use skills gained and lessons learned as a jumping off point to challenge injustices and care for those around them upon returning.

3. Camp is steeped in tradition: The pandemic has pushed us to adapt from celebrating holidays and events in the ways we hold dear. We’ve watched many a birthday, wedding, and even High Holiday service take place over zoom or amongst a small group of people. 

Camp is built around meaningful traditions that provide a sense of consistency and group identity. Campers and staff aspire towards opportunities like serving as color war captain, taking a beloved off-site trip, or simply receiving a certain special swag item that marks a new step in the camp journey. Of course, Jewish camp is centered around meaningful Shabbat observance, and each camp provides a unique, ritual-infused experience that many consider the highlight of each week. 

4. Camp builds community: Above all, every Jewish camp is built upon opportunities for campers to build friendships and feel a sense of belonging within a larger Jewish community. In non-pandemic times, camp encourages hugs, high fives, fist bumps, and arms thrown around one another–interactions we never knew we needed until they were taken from us. Many teens leave at the end of the summer having strengthened bonds with former bunkmates and emerging with new best friends whom they previously hadn’t known just weeks earlier. These meaningful connections formed under the guidance of positive staff role models, just a few years older, supported by caring senior leadership.

In Northern California alone, there are more than 20 Jewish day and overnight camps that have collectively transformed the lives of thousands of children and young adults. Camp provides space for wrestling with values, growing confidence, and building lifelong friendships, allowing young people to carry these lessons and memories into adulthood and beyond. Give your child the gift of Jewish summer camp, it might be the best decision you ever make!

Top West Coast Schools for Jewish Bay Area Students

The search to find the right college can be a difficult one for students these days. Debating  between public schools and private schools, schools in-state and schools across the country all offering the major a student wants–the options can be a little overwhelming. Now, add into the equation a school’s Jewish community. Being a college student myself, I remember how important it was to pick a school with an active Jewish presence. I yearned to find a community that reminded me of the Jewish sleep away camp I went to for 10 summers as well as one that embodied the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and hachnasat orchim (welcoming in the stranger). This article is here to serve as a small guide to the best colleges for Jewish life in the Western United States.

University of Southern California (USC) – Los Angeles, CA (Jewish population 10%)

This Southern California, private university has a Chabad house which typically hosts between 150-200 students each week for kosher Shabbat dinners. They also put on an annual “Shabbat 1000” dinner, which has hosted about 1200 students in recent years. Both Hillel and Chabad at USC offer a variety of educational programs and social events. Three Jewish fraternities have a home on USC’s campus amongst other Jewish organizations including Nice Jewish Queers.

University of Oregon (U of O) – Eugene, OR (Jewish population 8%)

Offering both a major and minor in Jewish studies, the U of O provides a warm and welcoming environment to its Jewish students. Home to a number of different Jewish clubs including Quackpac (U of O’s student group dedicated to strengthening ties between the US and Israel) and Jewish Greek organizations, students have the opportunity to connect to their Jewish identity in many ways. With a Hillel that will deliver matzo ball soup to students and a faculty that puts in the extra effort to connect with students individually, Jewish students are sure to find their place on this campus.

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) – Santa Barbara, CA (Jewish population 12%)

UCSB boasts an undergraduate population of 12%, making it the UC with the largest Jewish population. The campus offers 40 classes in Jewish studies, and a minor in the field. Santa Barbara Hillel even hosts a JHOP (Jewish House of Pancakes) event every finals week! In an effort to give back, students can also get involved in beach cleanups and Challah for Hunger. UCSB can be seen as a home away from home for Jewish students of all backgrounds.

University of California, Berkeley (Cal) – Berkeley, CA (Jewish population 8%)

Students can find a variety of Jewish clubs on campus ranging from groups focusing on political issues facing Jewish young adults to more social organizations. In addition to offering traditional Hillel programming, Berkeley Hillel hosts a weekly Wednesday barbecue for students. Both Hillel and Chabad provide social, religious, and educational events for Cal students. Cal also remains one of the only UC schools with a Mikvah on campus.

Stanford University – Stanford, CA (Jewish population 7%)

Offering a major and minor in Jewish studies, students can choose between 50 courses in this area of study to fulfil university requirements. Students can participate in events hosted by Chabad and Hillel on campus and join some of the Jewish clubs. Emphasizing the importance of Jewish peoplehood, the idea that Jews across the world are connected, students at Stanford have the opportunity to participate in fellowships exploring Zionism and intersectional Jewish identities. To get more of an idea of what services are offered on this campus check out Stanford’s Hillel website here.

University of Colorado, Boulder (Boulder) – Boulder, CO (Jewish population 8%)

Students obtaining a Jewish Studies degree at Boulder have the opportunity to choose a concentration in culture or language, providing a more focused educational path. In addition, Boulder offers minors in Jewish studies, Hebrew, and Israel studies. Students can find their place in the Jewish community on campus by joining one of the many Jewish clubs, including Jewish Greek life, Chabad, Hillel, and even a Jewish outdoor enthusiasts club!

Claremont Colleges – Claremont, CA (Jewish population 11%)

This collection of seven colleges features a Hillel and Chabad, along with numerous Jewish clubs. Students can get involved in Jewish activism and politics as well as participate in the social events offered on campus. Many of the Jewish organizations offer services to all of the Claremont campuses creating an intellectually diverse Jewish community. Students can attend weekly foreign language lunches and practice the Hebrew they remember from their B’nai Mitzvah, or any other foreign language they might speak!

Arizona State University (ASU) – Tempe, AZ (Jewish population 8%)

ASU’s Hillel is known for its large birthright delegations, as well as its scholarship program offered towards projects involving Judaism and the arts. With both Jewish fraternities and sororities, students can engage in culturally Jewish activities all week long. This campus also features several Jewish clubs such as J Street U, Jewish Arizonans on Campus, and Jewish Unity Coalition, encouraging collaboration and discourse amongst the Jewish community.

University of Arizona (U of A)– Tucson, AZ (Jewish population 8%)

Featuring a Judaic studies department offering 45 different classes, students seeking a degree in the field will find a variety of topics to choose from. You can even take classes in classical Aramaic! Chabad, Hillel (complete with a kosher cafe), and Jewish Greek houses are just a few of the ways students can get involved in the Jewish community on campus. A range of Jewish political clubs are available as well as Jewish activism organizations.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Los Angeles, CA (Jewish population 7%)

UCLA is home to one of the most extensive Hillels on the West Coast, offering daily Orthodox minyan services and pluralistic Shabbat services each week. UCLA is also home to upwards of 30 different Jewish clubs on campus. Students at UCLA can find themselves taking one of 50 Jewish studies courses offered by the university, singing in the Jewish a capella group, or making lifelong friendships in Jewish Greek life on campus.

While the search for the right college may be challenging, the main goal is a student’s success. Many colleges are connected to Hillels, Chabad houses, and Jewish clubs which can make big schools feel more like home. Even though I chose to attend a school that has a controversial history with Jewish students, having these resources at my disposal has allowed me to feel comfortable and continue to explore my Jewish identity. Enjoy the process of looking at universities and deciding which school feels right for you!

We’re LIVE! What JBridge is All About

Hey there, Bay Area parent!

First of all, let us lend you a virtual hug – we get that raising teens in a regular year is not easy. Now, throw in the fact that the whole family is stuck at home together and there aren’t many options for stimulating high schoolers right now. That’s gotta be tough. 

Well, you’re in luck, friend. We’re here to help. 

JBridge is a brand new website launched by the Teen Initiatives department within the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. But before we get into the logistical details, let me fill you in on why we did this. 

But, here’s what’s ironic. Even with so many opportunities for your teen to get involved, high school can still feel incredibly lonely, not to mention the endless pressures that come along with navigating these confusing years.

As a parent, all you want is to help your teen thrive. To ensure that their mental health is being taken care of. To help them feel challenged while simultaneously making sure they’re not drowning under pressure. To support them in finding a loving and positive friend group without being a “helicopter parent.” We know this reality all too well.

And for these exact reasons, we created JBridge. Our goal is simple: To empower Jewish teens to become their most confident and happy selves and prepare them for a lifetime of leadership, contribution and success. But more than anything, we want to help teens find their people.

As parents, you know the ones we’re talking about. The friends and community that understand your child right away, and welcome them in with open arms. We connect teens to their people and help them explore everything the Bay Area has to offer. Whether it’s leadership, traveling, volunteering or just trying something new, JBridge is here to help.

With that, here is how JBridge works to help you.

Our site,, condenses all Jewish teen opportunities into one simple place. 

We divide it into the following sections so that you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for: 


If your teen is looking to get involved with a youth group, sign up for a leadership program, explore outdoors, travel to Israel, take a gap year, or anything else, you’re going to find those broken down into categories under our ‘Programs’ tab. 


Whether your teen is in need of volunteer hours or is just looking for a chance to make a difference in their local community, we have a list of Jewish organizations that take teen volunteers under our ‘Volunteer’ tab. 


We have scholarships listed under the following categories: ‘Israel Scholarships,’ ‘Tikkun Olam Scholarships,’ ‘Creative Scholarships,’ ‘Miscellaneous Scholarships,’ and, of course, ‘College Scholarships.’ All of these opportunities are vetted and specifically available for Jewish teens in the Bay Area. 

JBridge Blog

Our blog is designed to offer support, guidance, and insight for Jewish parents on a mission to raise strong, healthy, happy teens. We’ll continually upload new blog posts on a variety of topics, including mental health, academic support, resonate Jewish values and upcoming programming we don’t want you or your teen to miss out on. The best way to stay in-the-know is to sign up for our newsletter. 

Alright, that’s all for now. I hope this gave you a glimpse into what’s ahead. As you can tell, we’re excited to help support you. So if there is anything that we can do to make your experience better, please don’t hesitate to reach out here. 

And in the meantime, take a few minutes to explore our new site. We hope you love it. 

To Happy Teens,
The Teen Initiatives Team