In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization, and BBYO, the Jewish teen movement, are connecting graduating high school seniors with current college students for virtual campus visits and question-and-answer sessions so prospective and accepted students can get to know the campus communities they are considering joining.

Many of these campus visits are also open to parents and high school juniors who are exploring college options.

“In this time of uncertainty and fear, one of the most important things we can do for the class of 2024 is to give them a chance to meet and hear from members of campus communities,” said Mimi Kravetz, chief experience officer at Hillel International. “Working together with BBYO allows us to create real, personal connections for teens as they become a part of Hillel,” she continued. “Necessity has been the mother of this new approach, but we hope that this partnership creates a pathway for young Jews to move between communities for years to come.”

Rebecca Cohen, director of the Anita M. Perlman Women’s Leadership Initiative at BBYO, said “we know we’ve been successful cultivating BBYO teens’ Jewish identity when they start seeking opportunities to engage Jewishly on campus. Partnering with Hillel in this way allows BBYO teens to meet future classmates, understand what’s waiting for them on campus and ask important questions to help them commit to a college or university.

She added that “in a time where social distancing is the norm, these virtual sessions allow for social connection that can last a lifetime. Though visits to campus may have been canceled, this is the next best opportunity for our teens to experience what the future has in store over the next four years and beyond.”

Amanda Gorsky, class of 2022 at the University of Delaware and an active member of Hillel there, said “as someone who had some difficulty adjusting to college life, Hillel was always there for me and truly gave me a place where I feel comfortable and free to be myself, so it feels great to have the chance to give back to the community that helped me so much.”

What is equally beneficial, say organizers, is the face-to-face meetings that take place online.

Ian Hammer, a high school junior from Kansas City and “BBYO On-Demand” editor-in-chief, said, “Many of us planned our spring-break trips around college tours that had to be canceled due to the coronavirus, so this will make up for lost opportunities and give us a glimpse into college life.”

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