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BogSem in Budapest: Legacy of Herzl

FZY Boger Leo Brosh recaps Bogrim Seminar 5778

Theodore Herzl is a legend within the millennia-old movement to return the exiles of Judea and re-establish our national home in the Land of Israel.

For the first time in FZY’s 107-year history, the Bogrim Seminar (BogSem) took place outside the UK, in Budapest.

Budapest is where Herzl was born, in what is now the complex of one of the largest synagogues in the world. 120 years ago a man was born who lit the fire of political Zionism which had been on a quiet simmer for too long.

He famously wrote:

“It goes without saying that the Jewish people can have no other goal than Palestine and that, whatever the fate of the proposition may be, our attitude toward the land of our fathers is and shall remain unchangeable.”

Today FZY, a movement born just thirteen years after the first Zionist Congress, returned to pay respects to the dream of Herzl and show that the fire he breathed into Zionism remains burning fiercely in the moment that fights to pursue his dream.

BogSem was longer than normal, starting with an early morning flight to Hungary and then a bus to our site in central Budapest.

Before long, we were engrossed in the classic FZY Shabbat, the best kind of Shabbat a person can have.

After the full array of services, we went to a kosher restaurant to eat. In doing so, we raised the roof and the smiles of the restaurant and the other diners with our energy and ruach. It was truly amazing to be a part of.

The Oneg and kumzits were the funniest in a long time: full of games, challenges, banter and ‘high kicks’!

Shabbat day began with services and Open Spaces which were focused on Magen of the Jewish people, whether on campus or in the media. Lunch again was a powerhouse of ruach where even the older diners were clapping and singing to our classic Shira.

An afternoon of peulot and food culminated in Havdallah. We waived goodbye to a unique FZY Shabbat and embraced the new week.

That new week began with us enjoying all the delights Budapest had to offer be it food, drink or showers!

Sunday was supposed to be a day of touring Jewish Budapest. Instead our contingency plans kicked in and we went riding scooters around the city, going over bridges, past palaces and in between bemused locals and tourists.

We could not get enough but sadly it was necessary to move on and have lunch with our Hungarian compatriots to learn more about their lives. During a cultural exchange with food and conversation between British and Hungarian Jews, Tarbut was brought to the forefront in a way we have never done before as a movement.

Herzl would have been proud today of the fact that not only is there a State of Israel, but that Zionists are thriving and working continuous both within and outside of Israel to make the world a better place (Tzedakah).

While this trip did not conclude with us our aliyot to Israel, the commitment of the Bogrim to do more for the movement, to inspire, to lead and to live out our values was far greater than a standard British BogSem.

Leaving Budapest was sad as we knew we needed to return to our ordinary lives at work or university. However, we left with a new appreciation for Hungary, a strong relationship between Bogrim and a renewed passion for the movement we believe so passionately about.

Herzl, I’m sure, would have been proud.


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