Israeli Teen Shares His Experience Here and at Home

By Ari Kaganovsky, Liberty Region, IC Press Corps 2017

This afternoon before opening ceremonies, we interviewed Daniel Segal, an 18-year-old delegate from Maccabi Tzair in Israel to find out his first impressions on IC and the international community and how this experience differs from those back in his home country. He is currently on a gap year to volunteer for Maccabi Tzair before he enters the Israeli military.

How did you first become involved in BBYO?

As a third grader, the coordinator from my local Maccabi Tzair chapter came to talk at my elementary school. There, they did “equipments”, or how each part of the youth group functions; “wrap” was my favorite part of it. After the demonstration, my friends and I all were very interested in joining, and I fell in love with it over the years, staying involved until today. Maccabi Tzair became my social life, making tons of friends and gaining the life skills that I have today.

What has been your favorite thing so far about being in America?

I love everything about being in America, but the organization of everything is amazing. Nobody seems to be late and everything is always planned out to the minute. Also, Americans always go all out, never just doing the bare minimum. You all have the mentality of going above and beyond.

How does this convention compare to the smaller conventions in your home countries?

We have a national convention every two years called Vida Artzit, where representatives from every chapter come together at a hotel for two days. There, we vote on laws and in the constitution that will affect Maccabi Tzair for the next two years. We don't have as many programs there because we have weekly programming for our own chapters. There are also smaller conventions throughout the year where nine to twelve teens from each chapter come together to improve themselves as coordinators. That is where we have programming similar to IC; at the last one, I was the logistics coordinator, so I took care of all the food and buses for everybody.

How have you been welcomed into the community?

I feel like a celebrity here. Every time I walk down he hall, somebody asks me where I’m from and wants to get to know me. Besides the special treatment, it’s amazing how all are welcome here. Nothing is based on your physical appearance, only your personality.

How does being Jewish affect your daily life at home?

I’m Israeli, so being Jewish is a massive part of who I am. Because of Yom Shabbat, there is always Shabbat spirit across Israel starting on Friday night. Everybody, including myself, has a massive Shabbat dinner with all our aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more on Friday nightwhere we do the standard blessings. I also had my Bar Mitzvah at the local Reform synagogue when I was thirteen, and we still go there every Friday night for Kabbalat Shabbat. You can’t not have a Jewish life in Israel.