Online B’nai Mitzvah: How to Connect When You’re Never Apart

In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents and their children are spending more time together under one roof than ever before. This session gives parents and children the opportunity to come togeth...


In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents and their children are spending more time together under one roof than ever before. This session gives parents and children the opportunity to come together – even if on their own screens – to talk to one another in real time about the gifts and challenges of this new normal. They will reflect on their own needs and communication styles and explore strategies for truly connecting with each other at a time when they are in the same house or apartment but not necessarily finding genuine ways to connect.

How to Connect When You Are Never Apart Educator Training Webinar

Presented by:

  • Pamela Barkley, Vice President of Program
  • Jen Anolik, Fellowship Director
  • Rabbi Daniel Brenner, Vice President of Education

This webinar walks you through the implementation of our new session for families, “How to Connect When You’re Never Apart. The session is geared toward families with preteens and/or teens and designed to be implemented with a Zoom platform.


  • For parents and preteens/teens to have a meaningful conversation with one another.
  • For parents and preteens/teens to understand each other in a new way.
  • For parents and preteens/teens to each reflect on how they best show and receive love.

Sample Invitation Text:

Hello! We are excited that you will be joining our online workshop for preteens/teens and adults, “How to Connect When You’re Never Apart.”

In the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents and their children are spending more time together under one roof than ever before. This session will give you and your child the opportunity to come together – even if on your own screens – to talk to each other in real time about the gifts and challenges of this new normal. You will reflect on your own needs and communication styles and explore strategies for truly connecting with each other at a time when you are in the same house/apartment but maybe not necessarily finding genuine ways to connect.

Before you join the Zoom call, please note the following:

  • Please be sure to have a paper and pen handy for each person participating in the session.
  • Here is the link to join the Zoom call: [if you’re using a password protected account, also add password here].
  • For one part of the call, parents and children will be separated into breakout groups. To prepare for this, please log into Zoom on two devices, in two separate rooms (computers or laptops preferably). Then, on the device your child will be using for the breakout room, turn off the video and press “mute.”
  • On the device you’ll be using for the breakout room, make sure your name on Zoom is accurate (for instance, if your name is “Bess Levin” and Zoom automatically logs you in as “Levin family computer,” change your name to “Bess Levin.”) Do the same for your child’s computer. This will make it easier for us to put you in the correct breakout rooms.
  • At the beginning of the call, we invite you to sit next to your child at the same computer. Then, they’ll go back to the other computer once the breakout room begins.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop! If you’re in need of any technical assistance, please contact [insert name] at [number].


  • Paper/pen (for each participant)
  • Answergardens prepared on of questions:
    • During this pandemic, our home is way more…. (e.g. organized, focused on food, focused on school, quiet, stressful)
    • During this pandemic, one thing our family has done together is….
  • Remind parents and children to sign in on separate devices (not phones, preferably)
  • The Five Love Languages – Gifts video cued up and ready to share (Facilitator’s note: Please make sure when you share this video you click the box on the lower left of the Zoom share dialogue that says “Share computer sound” so your participants can hear the video)
  • PowerPoint: Download as PowerPoint or PDF.
  • Link for quiz prepared to put in chat:
  • Breakout rooms of parents and teens (set these up once everyone logs on. In your invite, be sure to indicate that parents and children will each need to have their own device to log in to for part of the session!)
  • Survey monkey link
Facilitator’s Tip: As participants log in, you may want to hide non-video participants (this selection becomes available if you click on one of the participants without video) so as to be able to see everyone. Encourage everyone on the call to do the same.

Intro/Icebreaker (10 min)

Invite people to respond to the following questions on answergarden ( (first the first question and then the second):

Facilitator’s tip: Create your answergarden in advance and have the link ready to paste it in the chat. You will need to let participants know that they will have to copy and paste the link ina browser window, separate from Zoom. After everyone has responded to the question, remind them to refresh their answergarden screen so that they see all responses. You can also share your screen and show everyone the final “garden” of responses.
  • During this pandemic, our home is way more…. (e.g. organized, focused on food, focused on school, quiet, stressful)
  • During this pandemic, one thing our family has done together is….

For the past while, we have been spending a lot of time under one roof with our family. Some of us may be frequently talking and doing activities together, while others might be separated in different rooms. No matter how much we love our families, none of us were prepared to shelter in place with them. All of this is hard, and you may feel differently on different days (or from minute to minute). We want to acknowledge that, and to emphasize that however you are feeling is okay. We also believe this challenging time can be an opportunity to think and talk about the ways we connect and communicate!

Share the Powerpoint (Slide 1) with the following questions:

Invite people to take out a pen and paper and respond to the following. Tell parents/children that they’ll have a chance to share later, but this is just for them:

  • When I want to show my parents/children I appreciate them I usually____.
  • I feel most loved by ____(parent/child on call) when ______.

Everyone has preferences in terms of how they show appreciation or how they feel loved. But because of the pandemic, all of your feelings, experiences, and preferences are likely heightened. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s normal. It’s just something to note.

Introduction to Love Languages (7 minutes)

Share the following story aloud to your group (paraphrase or tell it in your own words; do not share the screen):

Lily and her mom, Rachel were in the kitchen after dinner. Lily was telling her mom all about a conversation that she recently had with her best friend. Lily loves spending time with her mom and specifically chose to stick around in the kitchen to talk after dinner while the rest of the family went upstairs to their rooms. However, she noticed that her mom was distracted as she talked. While Rachel listened, she was washing the dishes from dinner and wiping down the countertops. She enjoys talking to her daughter but was also frustrated at Lily for sitting at the kitchen counter and not once offering to help with the cleaning. At the end of the night both Lily and Rachel felt annoyed.

  • What did you notice in this story?
  • Can you give voice to what was going through Lily’s (the daughter’s) head?  How about Rachel’s (the mother’s)?
  • What was the disconnect between Lily and Rachel?
  • What do you think Lily and Rachel could have done differently?
Facilitator’s Tip: You may want to share the pros and cons of people being on mute/unmuted: when everyone is on mute, we can’t hear people’s natural reactions to things and it adds an extra level of distance between us. However, if you have a lot of background noise (e.g. a loud dog, many ambulances outside), muting may be more considerate until you choose to speak. Either way, make sure that being on mute is not preventing you from joining the conversation.

If you find that only parents are answering, ask for a child to answer, or vice versa. If no one is answering, maybe put one of the questions in the chat and have people answer there.


This might seem like a classic example of how teens and parents don’t get each other. But another way to think about what happened between Rachel and Lily is that they “speak different languages.” That doesn’t mean one was speaking Spanish and the other Hebrew. They were speaking what psychologist Gary Chapman calls different “love languages!” Each of us has a primary love language – a way of receiving affection that makes us feel truly loved. It is also the way we most often show our love to others.

  • From what you know about Rachel (mother) and Lily (daughter), how do you think Lily shows love to others?
  • How do you think Rachel shows love to others?

(possible answers: Rachel shows love through cleaning counters and dishes/doing things for others; Lily shows love through talking to others and spending time with others).

Explain the Love Languages: (15 min)

Show the following video:

The Five Love Languages – Gifts

Facilitator’s Tip: Please make sure when you share this video you click the box on the lower left of the Zoom share dialogue that says “Share computer sound” so your participants can hear the video.

What you saw in the video was another example of two people speaking different love languages at first.

Optional: If you have extra time, show one or two more of the Love Languages Videos:

Words –

Acts of Service-

Quality Time –

Touch –

Share Powerpoint Slides 2-3 of the Five Love Languages. Call on a participant to read each love language and description and ask participants to share examples of each love language (examples could be from the video, the Rachel and Lily story, or their own lives.) If not many people are sharing out loud, also invite people to share in the chat.

Facilitator’s Tip: As you read through the following, you might invite participants to share examples from their lives of what each of the love languages looks like. After you stop sharing your screen, we recommend cutting and pasting the description of the five love languages into the chat so that people can see them all at once.
  1. Words – People who speak this love language feel loved when others speak intentional and sincere words, complimenting and encouraging them.
  2. Acts of service – People who speak this love language feel loved when others do something that is kind, intentional, and unexpected that helps them.
  3. Gifts – People who speak this love language feel loved when others give them a gift that is personal and thoughtful.
  4. Quality time – People who speak this love language feel loved when others intentionally and deliberately spend time with them.
  5. Touch – People who speak this love language feel loved through meaningful physical contact.
  • (Ask participants to respond to these two questions in the chat function) Which language is spoken by the pink character who is in bed in the video? (gifts) What was the language the blue character tried to speak? (tried acts of service by throwing a party and vacuuming)
  • Which language do you think Lily speaks? (quality time) How about Rachel? (acts of service)
  • What questions do you have about the love languages?

Share image on the Powerpoint. (Slide 4) The love languages aren’t exhaustive. But it’s a useful framework for thinking about your preferences:


There’s no “best” love language, everyone has different preferences. Some people are more introverted and others are more extroverted. Some people were raised speaking English and others speaking Hebrew, or some were taught both languages growing up. We’re going to learn more about our own love languages in breakout groups.

Breakout Rooms: Parents and Pre-Teens/Teens (25 minutes)

Tell the pre-teens/teens to go back to the room where they are already signed into a computer and turn on their video, bringing the paper they wrote on at the beginning of the session. As they do this, open up the breakout rooms. The person who creates the breakout rooms should stay on in the main room for a minute to handle any tech issues before joining the room they are facilitating. They should then join whichever breakout room they are facilitating.

In breakout rooms, invite participants to unmute.

  • Take a look at your answers to the two questions on your paper (that you answered at the beginning of the session). Which “love languages” do you think these connect to? Do they connect to the same language or different languages?

Invite participants to mute and take the love languages quiz. Add the link to the quiz to the chat in Zoom: . Ask each participant to take the quiz and write down their answers (a, b, c, d, or e) at their own timing.

Scoring: Ask participant to count up how many a’s, b’s, c’s, d’s, and e’s.

Share the Powerpoint (Slide 5 ) with the results [a = words; b = quality time; c = gifts; d = acts of service; e = touch .

Invite participants to share results with one another in the breakout room. Invite everyone to change their name in their Zoom window to their love language (e.g. instead of “Lily Abramson,” they are now “Quality Time.”

  • Are you surprised by your results? Why/why not?
  • Can you think of a time when you felt your parent or child really did or didn’t speak your love language over the past month at home? How did that feel?
  • What do you think your parent’s/child’s love language is? How does that mesh or not mesh with yours?
  • When have you spoken someone else’s love language even though it felt foreign to you? (you make someone their favorite meal even if you don’t like to cook, you offer to walk the dog even if it’s really cold out and you don’t want to)

Share the following advice in both parents and preteen’s/teen’s group:

Gary Chapman, the creator of the love languages says that people often ask him, “What if another person’s love language doesn’t come naturally to me?” His standard reply is “so?” He says Love is an action that you do for someone else. Once you discover the primary love language of someone close to you, you make the choice to speak it – whether or not it feels natural or comfortable to you, even when it’s not 100 percent convenient.

In Judaism, we are commanded to love. For instance, in the shema, we say “vayahavta, et Adonai elohecha” which translates to “and thou shalt love the Lord, your God.” In this instance, we are clearly being commanded to love God. But we can carry this idea to a larger framework and think of ourselves as obligated to love people too. So the question is, how do we fulfill this obligation? The idea behind love languages is that we can’t just express our love in the way we want to be loved. We are obligated to flex: to find ways to show others love in the way they want to be loved. Flexing like this can be hard to do. And it may feel especially hard to do in the midst of a pandemic.  But it is perhaps even more important now, when living in such close quarters, to understand what those around us need most, and to also feel genuinely understood and valued.

Notice if you feel resistance to this idea. It may be very different from the way you currently think about how to parent /your rights as a preteen/teenager. That’s ok. We suggest you try out this way of thinking for the next hour, and perhaps for the next week. Then reflect (on your own, with a partner, or with your parent/child) about whether it changed anything in your household.

Give parents advice about handing the conversation for after the breakout room

In a few moments, you’re going to learn about your child’s love language.

As a parent, you are oftentimes going to have to show your child love and not feel that your child is showing it back in the way that you’d like it. As a grown up, you have more of an ability to adapt your love language than they do, just like you may have had more of an ability to adapt to the pandemic – because of age, wisdom, and experience. In the conversation you’re about to have with your child, we encourage you to listen to what it is they need, and to be able to express, neutrally, what you need. Don’t forget to tell your child what you need! Remember that relationships are a give and take.


Whoever started breakout sessions needs to end the breakout sessions. This will give everyone a 60 second warning. In the preteen/teen group, ask them to log off and go back to the room with their parents.

Families talk to each other (7 minutes)

Then invite parents and children to MUTE and talk as a family about what they discovered during the breakout groups and refer to the following questions:

Discussion guide:

Share these in the Powerpoint (Slide 6):

  • Share your respective love languages (which will also be the parent’s names on the Zoom screens).
  • What is one thing that surprised you about what you just learned about your parent/child? How did what you learned compare with the love language you thought your parent/child spoke?
  • What is one thing you could each do differently over the next week or two with your child/parent now that you know each other’s love languages?

Debrief & Closing (10 minutes)

Invite a few people to share highlights of their conversations.


Under the best of circumstances, we could use these languages to communicate better. Right now most things are exacerbated. We’re in this heightened sense of togetherness so we have to be even more careful than usual about how we communicate.

This means going out of our way for others and also being extra clear about our own boundaries (e.g. when we need a hug, when we need time alone, when we need to leave the room or maybe the house to take a short walk, and when we are ready to come back).

It means being compassionate – to ourselves and to others – when we slip up and make a mistake.  Remember, every day is an opportunity to try a new way of interacting, a new way of showing someone how you feel.

In the next week, we encourage you to find opportunities to try and speak your parent’s or child’s language.

It could become a joke between each other (for example, if you know your child doesn’t speak in “acts of service” and they cleaned out the dishwasher you could say, “thanks for that act of service, quality time!” And they could say “you’re welcome, acts of service!”)

Ask everyone to share on a whiteboard their response to the following question. Ask parents to respond first and then step away from the computer so that the preteens/teens can answer.:

What is one thing you hope your parent/child knows? Share the following meditation:

I invite you to find a comfortable seat and close your eyes if you feel comfortable. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your legs against the chair, and feet against the floor. Notice any sounds in the room around you. Now, think of a time when you felt truly and completely loved by your child or parent. Let that feeling fill you up with light, in the way as we saw the character in the video fill up, earlier – starting in the center of your body, and radiating outward so that the entire room around you is filled with light. Stretch out your arms to help the light go further. And when you feel the light cannot spread any further, listen. . .

Share several comments from the whiteboard here.

Take a deep breath in and out. Open your eyes.

Optional: share this quote as a closing: (Powerpoint Slide 7)

“With full love tanks people can process conflicts, create a positive emotional climate, and work together, support, and encourage each other.” – Gary Chapman. This is even more important in today’s world.


Before we get to the final “take home questions” just a reminder that we would love feedback about this Moving Traditions session. Parents, please click on the link I am about to put in the chat and complete the first few questions, When prompted, have your child take over and answer the remaining questions before hitting the submit button. SurveyMonkey link to copy and paste:

Take home questions: (Slide 8)

Facilitator’s note: You can show the slide to everyone and then either ask participants to take a picture of it with their cell phone, or you can tell them you will send the two questions in a follow up email.
  • If you had to map or guess at the love languages of every member of your immediate family – what would you guess? How does it feel to look at the range of love languages in your family?
  • Now that you know each others’ love languages and have a few new ideas about ways to show love to each other over the next few weeks, consider the following question with your parent/child: What is a way we can show our love to the wider world (our community, our congregation, etc.) right now?

Quiz (also in the google doc):

In each of the following questions, select the option that is MOST true for you.

Question 1: select the statement that is MOST true for you:

  1. I like it when people compliment me
  2. I like to spend one-on-one time with others
  3. I like it when people give me gifts
  4. I feel loved when someone helps me
  5. I feel loved when someone close to me puts their arm around me

Question 2: On your birthday, what would make you happiest:

  1. For someone to write you a thoughtful card
  2. To spend time with people close to you
  3. To receive a thoughtful gift
  4. For someone to cook you your favorite meal
  5. To get a great hug from someone close to you

Question 3: select the statement that is MOST true for you:

  1. I value praise and avoid criticism
  2. I feel close to someone when we are doing something together
  3. Several small gifts mean more to me than one large gift
  4. What someone does affects me more than what they say
  5. Hugs make me feel connected and valued

Question 4: How do you usually show someone you love them:

  1. I tell them how great I think they are
  2. I set aside time to spend with them
  3. I make them a gift
  4. I surprise them by doing something nice for them
  5. I put my arm around them or give their shoulder a squeeze

Question 5: Select the statement that is MOST true for you:

  1. I enjoy when people compliment my appearance
  2. I feel loved when people take time to understand my feelings
  3. I value gifts that people make for me
  4. I appreciate the many little things people do for me
  5. I feel loved when people touch me

Question 6: When I feel stressed out, it makes me feel better when:

  1. Someone says a nice thing about me
  2. Someone really listens to me
  3. Someone gives me a gift
  4. Someone helps me out with a task I’ve been putting off
  5. Someone hugs me

Question 7: Select the statement that is MOST true for you:

  1. I appreciate when people compliment my achievements
  2. I like it when people listen to me and show genuine interest in what I’m saying
  3. I enjoy receiving gifts from friends and family
  4. I feel loved when friends and family help me with jobs or projects
  5. I feel secure when someone close to me is touching me

Question 8: I know when someone loves me when:

  1. a) they tell me they love me
  2. b) they cancel their plans to watch tv with me
  3. c) they bring me a gift from their vacation
  4. d) they pour my favorite drink and bring it to me
  5. e) they give me a backrub

Question 9: I feel connected and valued when:

  1. Someone tells me I’m great at my favorite hobby/sport
  2. Someone has lunch with me
  3. Someone makes me a homemade card
  4. Someone offers to do my chore(s) for me
  5. Someone gives me a high five

Question 10: Pick the statement that fits you the best:

  1. I’m really good at giving compliments
  2. I’m really good at setting aside 1:1 time for my family and friends
  3. I’m really good at finding the perfect present for someone
  4. I’m really good at helping others get things done
  5. I’m really good at giving hugs