ACROSS THE WORLD
This edition of BBYO Across the World comes to us from Linda Vero Ban, Founder and Director of BBYO Hungary. She invites you to learn about their recent exchange program with Maccabi Tzair, BBYO’s sister movement in Israel.
Hello, BBYO Parents! My name is Linda Vero Ban and I’ve been the Founder and Director of BBYO Hungary in Budapest since 2015. This spring a dream came true when our first-ever twin chapter exchange program was born.
Ten teens from BBYO Hungary, who will be soon the leaders of our chapter, had the opportunity to spend a week in Israel in May. It was a real Israel experience, as they were hosted by local families. They visited school, spent time in the chapter, used public transportation, and really lived life longside the Maccabi Tzair teens.
The highlight of the experience was their participation in the tekes (ceremony) of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day). They were able to share in commemorating the losses of the country, which is something that is really only understandable for teens by being in Israel at this time of the year. Of course the difficult moments were followed by the blue and white joy of Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) and that time of celebration.
The bond between our teens got extremely tight in just a few hours. After the week in Rishon, the separation was heartbreaking and full of tears.
But in end of October, the time arrived for the reunion. Hungarian families hosted back Maccabi Tzair teens in Budapest. Hospitality was just as warm as in Israel, unlike the weather. The delegation had the opportunity to spend three days by sightseeing and learning about the Jewish history of Hungary. But the most important part was they got to know the vibrant Jewish community life in Budapest of the present.
The Israeli teens then joined the Fall Convention of BBYO Hungary in Siofok at Lake Balaton. Forty Hungarian and 10 Israeli teens spent four days together. We had teen-led activities, learning sessions led by professional educators, Kaballat Shabbat, evening programs, dancing, and so much more.
This was the first time that English was the main language of our local convention. It was a challenge, but it worked well and new friendships were born with and without words.
We are dedicated to continuing this exchange program every year and hope to tie our bonds even more strongly with Maccabi Tzair in Rishon. It’s the perfect example of how BBYO connections can grow meaningfully across the globe.