Tamar Tenenbaum, who was inspired by her Jewish youth groups in Minnesota, is the new Regional Director for BBYO-Wisconsin Region. She started Sept. 1, 2021.
“I feel like I grew my passion for Judaism and Israel when I was a teen,” she said. “I want to show that passion to the kids.”
BBYO is a pluralistic Jewish teen movement that seeks to involve Jewish teens in meaningful Jewish experiences. It has hundreds of chapters worldwide and reaches nearly 70,000 teens annually. Locally, former BBYO-Wisconsin Region Regional Director Rachael Badt left the role over the summer to become executive director of Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation.
Tenenbaum graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in teaching and early childhood education. She taught for four years.
“It just wasn’t my passion,” she said, adding that she looks forward to the programming and Jewish communal aspects of BBYO-Wisconsin. “I love the creative side of things,” she said.
In the Twin Cities, Tenenbaum was active in United Synagogue Youth, also known as USY, the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. She liked how the staff worked with her and other kids at the time.
Bring the fun back
“Especially this year I want to bring the fun back, with them being virtual last year,” Tenenbaum said. “I want them to remember what BBYO in person is like.”
Tenenbaum said BBYO and BBYO-Wisconsin Region guidelines still call for precautions, like masks indoors and sometimes outdoors. Staff and kids must be vaccinated, she said.
She plans to continue at least two activities that are unique to BBYO-Wisconsin among area BBYOs: Friday oneg Shabbat gatherings in the afternoons have already started back up, in person, and the annual Mystery Bus Tour in winter for new members is to continue.
Tenenbaum said she’ll bring new ideas, but “the program is running very well. I’m not here to change how the program is run. If it’s working, it’s working.”
Chapter kick off events start early this month and sessions for prospective new members will come during the winter. For more information, email Tenenbaum at TTenenbaum@Bbyo.org.
Tenenbaum enjoys Orangetheory fitness classes. She likes to travel and has been to Italy, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Bali and Israel. She has a dog named Ned. She’s also got lifelong friends from Jewish youth groups.
“The most meaningful parts of the youth groups were the connections I made with other Jewish teens,” she recalled. “Literally, I still have best friends from the conventions where we got to room together.”
“Just laughing all night long … It just made us really close. They’re still my best friends today,” she said. “Those conventions where you got to pick your roommates and it was that sense of freedom and just being with your friends. I think that’s really important.”