This weekend, my 14-year-old daughter is attending (virtually) her first BBYO convention. To say that I am kvelling is an understatement. BBYO was perhaps the most important activity in my high school years, and I was regional President in my senior year. The experiences I had with BBYO profoundly shaped who I am and continue to affect my life to this day.
Perhaps the most impactful BBYO experience I had was my very first tour of Israel, at age 16. I didn’t grow up in a particularly Zionist household, so my parents thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to go to Israel. But I was determined, so the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, I went for a month-long trip all around Israel.
I will never forget that experience – dancing on Ben Yehuda street after Shabbat, waking up with the sun to work in the fields on a kibbutz, climbing Masada at sunrise (there was no cable car then!). Like so many Jewish teens before, I fell in love with an Israel I didn’t even know existed.
Israel was no longer a faded map on the wall of my Hebrew school classroom. Now I knew it as the vibrant, dynamic, exciting Israel story that I return to over and over.
Little did 16-year-old Becca know that the incredible events of that summer would affect the trajectory of my whole life. I’ve created a career dedicated to showing others the Israel I love, and am now leading Vibe Israel USA in showing the next generation all the ways that Israel can resonate with them.
So what would that person say to my 14-year-old as she nervously prepares for her first Zoom conference experience? I would like to say that this could be the beginning of the rest of her life, that she’s about to meet the people who will define her forever, and that she should be open to the idea that Israel is so much more than a map on the wall.
But as with all 14-year-olds, she rarely listens to what her mother says. So I’ll bite my tongue, cross my fingers, and casually say, “Oh, the BBYO event is tonight? Have fun.”
Becca Hurowitz is the President & CEO of Vibe Israel the USA