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Home is where the heart is for revamped Bnei Akiva bayit



A bayit is a place where imagination expands, connections form, opinions develop, and family calls home. Bnei Akiva has recently been blessed to open its renovated bayit, a modern home fitting for a thriving movement.

In Tractate Sukkah of the Talmud (53a), Hillel the Elder is quoted, in reference to the Beit HaMikdash, saying, “To the place that I love, there is where my feet take me.” Nowadays, as our Temple still lies in ruins, our shuls and Batei Midrash (houses of Torah study) have replaced the Beit HaMikdash as the place of connection to Hashem and His Torah. Our shuls should be places which pull us toward entering, davening, and learning.

The foundation of the Jewish nation is our homes. On Shavuot, we look back seven weeks to the story of Pesach, a festival rooted in family. As Jews, we’re one body, made up of units of families, each with their own traditions and shared memories. The differences that each family brings to our nation provides the tapestry of Judaism. It’s for this reason that at the giving of the Torah on har Sinai, the Jews are referred to as “kol ha am” (all of the nation). Had we been referred to as just “the nation”, this would negate the power of individuals and families within the “all”.

As the devastation of 7 October came to light, the most painful images were those of homes invaded, torn apart, and burnt down. The symbol of peace, learning, and safety had been violently dismembered. We’re still trying to reconcile ourselves with the tragedy, but we believe in the transformative power of building. It symbolises our undying belief that no matter what occurs, we’ll continue, heads held high as Jews. The answer to the destruction of our sanctums is to rebuild a home based on our shared values.

Our bayit is what Bnei Akiva calls home – the centre of learning, prayer, and relationships. Within its walls lie generations of madrichim and channichim’s bonds, memories, and growth. It has become a place synonymous with connections and positivity. The Bnei Akiva bayit has been a symbol of our belief system for generations.

We’ve experienced laughter and joy as we celebrated our Judaism, but we’ve also cried on one another’s shoulders during the hardships our nation has faced. The bayit has been the physical manifestation of what we stand for. However, as a growing movement, we felt the need to reimagine the space in order to inspire the formative experiences it’s meant to hold.

Where a father and mother once walked as excited teenagers, their sons and daughters now stand, no less enthralled than their parents. The bayit has allowed generations to understand why and how we act in the way we do – the customs we follow, the words of our tefillot, our love for the land of Israel, and how to hold oneself as an upright Jew in the modern world are a few of its myriad lessons. The bayit has added links onto the chain of Jewish thought and values that began at har Sinai.

The structure of the Bayit remains unchanged as its walls hold the holiness of years of learning and attachment between different generations. However, the fresh look aims to create a home for every Bnei Akivanik. Equipped with a beautiful shul, games room, action court, amphitheatre, and boardrooms, our bayit promises to provide the space for the continuation of the transmission of our ideology. It will be a place of warmth and happiness, bursting with inspiration and unity – a home.

  • Saul Joseph is the national chairperson of Bnei Akiva.

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