Throughout our history, BBYO has infused summer with leadership development, community service opportunities, Jewish education, a connection to Israel, and a deepened sense of identity to thousands of Jewish youth in North America and beyond.
In 1956, we welcomed our first group of 19 teens who came together from across North America to travel with us to the nascent state of Israel. The trans-continental flight took 33 hours from New York City with stops to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland, London, and Rome before finally arriving in Israel. It was truly a journey!
Less than ten years after the founding of the state of Israel, Jerusalem was still a divided city. The Western Wall as well as the Old City were generally off-limits. The Golan Heights belonged to Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula belonged to Israel. At the time, the Jewish State of Israel was only eight years old when our teens traveled the country to help contribute to the development of the Jewish Homeland. During the program, they even met David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir!
Today, Israel has developed into a thriving democracy, full of culture and a modern, vibrant Jewish society. These days, our teens travel freely throughout all corners of Israel and proudly walk in the footsteps of three generations of predecessors.
We often hear from parents who took part in past BBYO Israel trips as teens. Many are excited to tell us that they have decided to share the same BBYO experience in Israel with their own children. We were especially honored during the summer of 2015 to welcome the grandson of an alumnus from the original 1956 Israel journey!
Today, we offer a large selection of travel experiences and summer programs in Israel and around the world. So much has changed since that very first trip, but the spirit of our experiences remains the same!