Bnai Bayit (“Bet Bet” for short) connects Israelis studying for advanced degrees in North America with members of the local Jewish community to create lasting friendships, foster mutual understanding and strengthen the bonds between Israelis and North American Jews. Check out the website.
When challenged to dream about and take action on a new project through the Wexner Foundation’s inaugural Summit: Stronger Together: (Re-) Imagining the North American Jewish and Israel Relationship, I knew that it had to be through people to people connections (P2P).
When you care about someone, you start to care about where they live. Lifelong bonds are established. You travel to see one another. It works.
I met with Jewish lay leaders from Boston in 2015. They mentioned, as an aside, offering home hospitality (Shabbat dinners, holiday meals, etc) to young Israelis living in Boston while studying for MBA degrees at MIT. I did some research and found that Israelis find each other when they come abroad to study—they socialize with other Israelis, travel with other Israelis and really don’t get a true glimpse of American Jews or American Jewish life. With the belief of klal yisrael—that we are all one family—my partners and I believe that opening our hearts and our homes is the right thing to do for our Israeli “family." Based on that Boston concept, Bnai Bayit was founded in September 2017 in New York City.
Bnai Bayit is a Hebrew expression that signifies people who are like one of the family—a close friend or a member of the household. By truly welcoming these young Israelis—some of whom are in the Unites States alone, others with partners, spouses and children—into our families and homes, Bnai Bayit hopes to strengthen the Israel-American relationship "two families at a time."
As of today, we have made eighteen matches in New York and nine matches in Boston. The Israeli students are from top universities in those cities and are MBA, LLM, MSW and International Relations students. We are forming community—a Bnai Bayit Family. We’ve had a get together for all participants and it was heartwarming to feel the love in the room.
Bnai Bayit hopes to expand in 2017-2018 to additional communities across the United States. We are looking for Coordinators to be “matchmakers” in their communities. Please be in touch if you’re interested by emailing BetBetProgram@gmail.com.