Bnei Akiva Silver Spring (BASS) serves as one of the main youth groups in the Kemp Mill community of Silver Spring. BASS differs from many of the other Bnei Akiva chapters across the country, as it is entirely youth run. The leaders executing the events, Shabbatonim, and even fundraising efforts are run by high school age leaders. This epitomizes Bnei Akiva’s mission as a youth movement dedicated to the empowerment of youth leaders, in addition to its other core values of Torah v’Avodah — living a Torah lifestyle, support for aliya, love of the Jewish people, and love of Israel.
On Shabbat Parshat Bo, BASS had the honor of hosting Rav Shaul Feldman, the executive director of Bnei Akiva of the U.S. and Canada, as well as two bogrim (college-age advisors) from Yeshiva University. Over the course of Shabbat, there were many activities for all different age groups. On Friday night during the Ruach Minyan at Kemp Mill Synagogue (KMS), Rav Shaul gave a Dvar Torah about the power of youth in our communities.
An inspiring oneg followed, full of singing and a powerful discussion about the third Beit Hamikdash. On Shabbat afternoon, Bnei Akiva had a Shabbat Snif (program) for kids, as well as a special Snif for parents who were invited to experience what Bnei Akiva is all about with some fun learning games led by the visiting advisors.
The kids learned about leadership qualities from characters in Tanach, while at the parents’ activity they were asked to rank the different characteristics needed to make up a religious Zionist community. In between mincha and maariv (the afternoon and evening services), BASS hosted a Seudah Shlishit for middle and high school students. During this time, Rav Shaul told a motivational story about Bnei Akiva’s first regional Shabbaton in Niagara Falls in 2004, and how anyone is capable of bringing ruach (spirit) and inspiration to another community. After Shabbat, Bnei Akiva staff and youth leaders had a productive meeting with the KMS leadership to discuss strengthening their relationship and creating new partnerships between the two organizations.
Bnei Akiva Silver Spring is grateful for the community’s support and dedication to our youth. We are especially thankful to Rav Shaul Feldman and the two advisors for visiting Kemp Mill and making Shabbat a memorable experience that will ultimately enhance Bnei Akiva of Silver Spring and the community at large for many years to come.
By Yoni Albert and Aliza Goldschlag
Yoni Albert and Aliza Goldschlag are both seniors at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland, and Rosh Snifs in the Silver Spring chapter of Bnei Akiva.