Hachshara Season has Begun
300 participants of World Bnei Akiva's Hachshara year program from 12 countries have started their gap year in Israel
Thursday evening, World Bnei Akiva members from 12 countries joined with hundreds of their movement members - all in Israel on one of the Hachshara (gap year program) programs - for a welcome ceremony at the Armon Hanatziv promenade, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.
At the ceremony, the head of World Bnei Akiva, Zeev Schwartz, welcomed everyone to Israel, and reminded them that this is their home. The participants were also honored to be in the presence of Mr Solly Sacks, the Director of World Mizrachi, who wanted to personally welcome the new groups to Israel.
Mr Natan Sharansky, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was delayed on his return to Israel, and was therefore unable to be at the ceremony, but he passed on a special message expressing his pride in the World Bnei Akiva members of Hachshara for choosing to spend a year in Israel.
Jonny Lipczer, Hachshara coordinator: "Bnei Akiva has many Hachshara programs in Israel, with participants from every continent. Tonight, my chanichim were able to feel connected to something global and meaningful."
At the end of the ceremony, each member was given a special gift - a special Bnei Akiva edition of the new Koren siddur, with commentary by British Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. This siddur was specially commissioned for participants of Hachshara, and we are sure they will be used regularly.
In their own words...
Sophie Truman, Midreshet Harova:"Tonight was very exciting. Who would have known there were so many BA enthusiasts from all over the world - even Mexico! Getting the beautiful Bnei Akiva siddur was a really nice surprise and I am happy to have received this unique gift."
Michael Bodansky, Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi:"I had an exhilarating experience bonding with Bnei Akiva members from all over the world. It inspired me further to learn and teach, and I hope to continue within this special youth movement, with its ideology, for years to come."
Sophie Miller, Midreshet Yeud:"The opening Mifkad was a really great way to begin the year, and I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world."
Gadi Fisher, Yeshivat Hakotel:"It is difficult to describe the feeling of being among so many people showing their support of Israel in a very real way by deciding the spend a year here. We may be from different backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common - we are spending a year in Israel with Bnei Akiva "
This year's Bnei Akiva Hachshara program consists of 300 participants from: Great Britain, Holland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Spain.