In an acknowledgment of the growing popularity of social networking sites, BBYO announced its launch of b-linked, an online networking site for Jewish teens (via JTA):

BBYO recently launched b-linked, an online community built on the model of social-networking sites like Friendster and Facebook, online communities that connect people through networks of friends for dating or making new acquaintances. The site,, aims to revolutionize the way Jewish teens connect with each other. BBYO leaders hope that 50,000-100,000 Jewish teens will join b-linked over the next four years.

The site was launched in October and made available initially to the BBYO community. It already has more than 2,000 members, and the group is publicizing the initiative more broadly in an effort to attract a wider spectrum of teens.

As always, it’s not just the site that’s the thing here. The organizers of the site hope that by wanting to log on to a hip and cool website, teens will also log on to Judaism in a larger sense and for a longer duration.

Lynn Schusterman, who [BBYO director Matthew Grossman says] has been instrumental in enabling BBYO to move in this new direction, says she sees b-linked as similar to birthright israel, a program that brings young Jews to Israel for free in hopes that they’ll become more involved Jewishly and more involved with Israel.

“We’re hoping that if a kid logs on to b-linked, they’ll get involved in Jewish camping, Jewish youth groups, Jewish summer programs,” says Schusterman, of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The site has the potential to engage teens who are otherwise unaffiliated and “may be turned off by a synagogue or, potentially, a youth group, or even Jewish camping,” she says. “When they log on to this, it’s something that’s hip and cool.”

Using technology as a tool in increasing commitment to Jewish connection? What a great idea! Hey, while we’re being all crazy and innovative, you know what we could do? Have a conference based on…wait for it… a blog!

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Esther Kustanowitz

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