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June 20, 2003 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-20

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Youth Ambassadors to Bulgaria
Winter Seminar

From December 29, 2002-January 6, 2003,
Michigan Region once again participated in the
Youth Ambassadors to Bulgaria Program. This
cultural exchange involved seven BBYOers from
four cities in the US - Detroit, Minneapolis,
Philadelphia, and Atlanta, Sara Rautman, Northstar
BBYO Director, and Arnie Weiner Michigan BBYO
Director, for a cultural exchange and joint learning
program with the BBYO chapter in Sofia. Michigan
participants included Regional Aleph Godol Perry
Teicher of Greenberg AZA and Zara Teicher of
Achayot BBG. The group was joined by eight Sofia
BBYOers, their staff - Lora Aladjem and Victor
Melamed, and Sofia's Jewish educator, Victor
Besides the close friendships engendered and
the fraternalism/ sisterhood renewed within AZA
and BBG, the program offered some significant
educational/cultural learning experiences:
♦ New Year's was celebrated with traditional
Bulgarian food at the BBYO Director's home
and later with the Bulgarian public on the
streets of downtown Sofia.
♦ On a trip to Plovdiv, the delegation learned how
the Bulgarian people saved their Jews during
World War II and saw the monument dedicated
in memory of that effort.
♦ Shabbat was celebrated with evening services
at the Central Synagogue in Sofia, followed by
a Shabbaton with parents and community
leaders at the Beit Am. As part of the
Shabbaton, each Bulgarian family received a
beautiful Chanukiah, a gift from members of the
Michigan BBYO Board of Directors.
♦ The delegation was treated to a showing of
"Letter to the USA," a Cannes-award winning
film about the Bulgarian experience. After the
film, the producer and director, Rossitsa
Valkanova and Iglika Triffonova, were present to
answer questions about the themes explored.

♦ AZA Separates in Bulgaria: Fraternalism is a big part of
the AZA program, and it was no different at the Bankya
Conference Centre. Standing L to R: Perry Teicher,
Detroit; Victor Fachev, Sofia; Oren Robashkin,
Minneapolis; Alex Melamed, Sofia; Mike Kandel,
Philadelphia; and Andrey Litov, Sofia; Seated L to R:
Aaron Hodes, Atlanta; Maxim Delchev, Sofia.
♦ Baking Banitza for New Year's: It's a Bulgarian tradition
to bake banitza for New Year's with fortunes inside.

Banitza is a dough-covered pastry with
Bulgarian cheese inside. L to R: Lora
Aladjem, BBYO Director in Sofia; Mike
Kandel, Philadelphia; Perry Teicher,
Detroit; and Aaron Hodes, Atlanta.
Bulgarian Winter Seminar Staff and
Leaders: Front L to R: Sarah Rautman,
BBYO Director, Minneapolis; Lora
Aladjem, BBYO Director, Sofia; Middle
left to R: Victor Melamed, BBYO
Assistant Director in Sofia; Perry Teicher,
Detroit, and Maxim Delchev, Sofia,
Youth Coordinators; Arnie Weiner,
Michigan BBYO Director; Rear: Victor
"Gugi" Haimov, Jewish Educator, Sofia.
Cooking Sephardic in the Kosher kitchen
at the Belt Am: The BBYOers
participated in a cooking party at the
Belt Am with Vicki and Sarah, who later
told their stories of the Jews in Bulgaria
during the Holocaust. They baked (and
later ate) borekas, roskas (Haman's ears)
and marzipan. Pictured with Vicki (L) and
Sarah (R) are Victor Fachev and Denitza
Brankova of Sofia.
Perry Teicher and Sarah Rautmann with
Valeri Petrov: On Shabbat afternoon, the
group was treated to a session with Valeri
Petrov, one of the foremost Bulgarian (and
Jewish) poets. Petrov was also the person
who translated all of Shakespeare and
Goethe's Faust into Bulgarian. Not only did
the poet read some of his poems in the
original Bulgarian (with translations provided),
but he also discussed his life, first under the
fascists, then under the communists. His father,
Nissim M'vorach, had been Bulgarian
ambassador to the US prior to WWII, and his
granddaughter, Ani, was a past member of the
BBYO chapter in Sofia.
Yarmulkas at the Beit Am: The Beit Am in Sofia,
the old Jewish Community Center on Stamboliski
Boulevard, is the basic address of the Jewish
community. The Shalom Organization (Consistory
of the Jews in Bulgaria) has its offices here as does
the JDC, B'nai B'rith, and BBYO as well. The
building offers a kosher kitchen where communal
meals are prepared and a snack bar. The senior
citizens have a workshop where they make
yarmulkas, challah covers, bookmarks, etc. and the
youth had the opportunity to purchase them, with
the proceeds going directly back to the person who
made them.

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Michigan BBYO thanks the following for their donations toward this program's success:

Adat Shalom Sisterhood
Gift Shop
Adat Shalom Synagogue
Irene & Marty Bader
David & Arline Bittker
Jacob & Michele Braslaw
Phil & Charlotte Edelheit
Ted & Lisa Efros
Kevin & Eden Elbinger


Marshall & Paula Goldman-
Robert Goodman
Mark & Amy Haimann
Michael & Barbara Horowitz
Ralph & Sue Katz
Ilene Lubin
Allen & Amy Olender
Morrie & Renee Rochlin

Bennett & Sharon Schwartz
Arthur & Michele Siegal
Ray & Eva Shapiro
Gary & Francine Snyder
Spitzer's Jewish Gift Shop
Mickey & Debbie Stern
Keith & Jodi Tobin
Tradition! Tradition!
Doug & Margo Woll

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