December 10, 2023

Shanghai once hosted an outpost of the global Jewish youth movement BBYO, and now the network of Jewish communities in Asia has revived its presence. Around 40 teens attended the group’s conference in Singapore, where they learned how to launch their own BBYO chapters and foster a sustainable community among Jewish teens in their cities.

This event brought together teens and lay leaders from Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, providing them with an opportunity to interact and create Jewish experiences that their home communities may lack. Many Jewish teens in Asia are “third-culture kids,” raised in a culture different from their parents’ and often the only Jews in their schools.

A continent convenes

The conference’s programming focused on forming and strengthening local BBYO chapters in Asian cities. This vision reflects the goals of the original Aleph Zadik Aleph chapter in Shanghai in 1941, and is now being realized through the opening of new chapters in Asia in recent years.

Rabbi Martha Bergadine, from the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong, believes that the Jewish communities of Asia are becoming more established, and in this evolution, programmatic offerings like BBYO are vital to provide opportunities for the teens.