From Budapest To Baltimore: BT Students Lay Out Red Carpet for Central European Peers


From Budapest To Baltimore:

BT Students Lay Out Red Carpet for Central European Peers

Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School (BT) in Pikesville hosted 13 students and six teachers from the Scheiber Sandor School, a Jewish day school in Budapest, Hungary, Nov. 17-24. The exchange is one of the several programs offered by SOS International, a Rockville based non-profit that strives to enrich Jewish identity and values through international exchanges.

BT Exchange (Stephani Renbaum)
BT Budapest Exchange students, pre-Shabbat. (Stephani Renbaum)

“Robots, divrei Torah, and a fireside chat in front of nearly 300 people are far from the usual Friday for those of us who hail from Budapest, Hungary,” wrote Simon Putz, a senior at the Scheiber Sandor School in Budapest, Hungary, in an email about the experience to the JT.

Putz was quite taken with the school’s STEM lab. “The school’s STEM director held his usual class, but for us there was nothing usual about it. He was talking about robotic arms in the making,” wrote Putz.

“He introduced us to the 3-D printer and printed us some little gadgets.”

During the week it was “fascinating” to see how actively the students take part in school life, be it student government or the diverse student-led clubs, he wrote.

At Friday assembly, Putz and other visiting students shared details of their lives as Jews in Budapest and their impressions of life here with BT students in the school’s theatre. It was unnerving, he wrote, but “I overcame my stage fright thanks to the cheering I received. People even seemed to like the jokes I made, which made me feel good.”

He also wrote about the group’s much-anticipated shabbaton at the Pearlstone Center. Activities ranged from spiritual (a traditional Shabbat itsch with food, singing, and words of Torah) to silly (a game of human dominos).

“After breakfast and davening — a new experience for some of us — it was time for lunch, more songs, and more camaraderie.”

During Havdalah, “the feeling of standing in a circle, singing in the dark with friends and the only illumination was a candle, was overwhelming,” he wrote.

The small moments shared between students mattered most to Lily Gordon, a BT junior. When she accidentally stained her shoes with a spilled cup of tea, one of the visiting students tried to jokingly comfort her by pointing out that it would serve as a memento of the week.

“As much as the programmed stuff helped us bond, it was when we were alone, being kids, that strengthened the bond most,” she wrote to the JT.

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