Charlotte Buchalter took the initiative and founded the Manchester chapter of BBYO, the worldwide group for young Jewish people. Here, the 16-year-old reveals her journey…
BBYO is the world’s largest Jewish youth movement connecting with over 40,000 young people in four different continents and located in many countries globally. I feel that BBYO UK and Ireland is a very unique region of the movement. I first joined BBYO in 2013, having no idea about what I was getting involved in, yet since then, it has been my home away from home.
My first BBYO event was the ‘New Member’s Weekend’ and I attended that thinking that it would just be a fun time with a few of my close friends. However, the weekend was completely different to what I had expected and encouraged me to attend Shorashim, BBYO’s summer camp, a few months later.
At Shorashim, I learned that it was more than just a summer camp; I truly understood BBYO’s ideologies and values, and just how great an impact it could have on my life. I met so many amazing friends who shared the same passion for the movement as me, and who had the same determination to be a part of it. Therefore, I wanted to bring it to Manchester, where there wasn’t a chapter. It was the first to be set up in Northern England.
So, with the help of a few friends and parents, we managed to start having fortnightly meetings and much to our excitement, we got a great turn-out, and we still continue to do so to this day. Peer-leadership is one of BBYO UK and Ireland’s core ideologies, meaning that chapter meetings are run by the members for their peers, providing amazing leadership opportunities and skills for members that will be of great value to them in the future.
Another BBYO ideology I love is ‘pluralism’ – the idea that any Jewish person is accepted, no matter what denomination of Judaism they come from, and no matter how religious they are, so everyone is allowed to have their own say and their own point of view. For example, in Shabbat services, there are separate boys’ and girls’ sections to sit in, but there is also a mixed section.
Last summer, I went on BBYO Israel tour 2015, and I consider it the pinnacle of my BBYO journey- it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. I met loads of new friends and loved getting to experience all the different aspects of Israeli culture. But this isn’t the only incredible event that BBYO has to offer. There are many more national events, such as leadership training courses and summer and winter camps.
To find out more about these events, and about BBYO, visit Bbyo.org.uk. It can all start with attending your first chapter meeting! If you, or someone you know, would like to find out more about the Manchester chapter, simply ‘like’ the South Manchester BBYO Facebook page for weekly updates. We meet every Sunday evening from 7-9pm and if you are aged between 13 and 18, we’d love to invite you along.