For members of Bnos Agudath Israel of America, putting pen to paper and shipping off a letter via the United States Postal System has become a wonderful way to bridge geographic boundaries and connect with their peers all over the United States.
The Bnos Pen Pals program began three years ago, creating a sense of camaraderie between Bnos members who may live far away from each other. Even in today’s fast paced world, the girls love the thrill of getting mail from their pen pals and, in addition to fostering friendships between two young ladies who might not otherwise meet, the Pen Pals program also gives participants a strong connection to Bnos Agudath Israel of America.
In its first year, Pen Pals paired up 200 girls and each year the number of participants has increased. Last year 350 girls joined the program and that number has grown to 500 this year, with participating Bnosers eagerly looking forward to their daily mail delivery, a thrill that just cannot be replaced by technology, observed Mrs. Chana Baila Hass, national director of Bnos.
“Pen Pals was the idea of two of our amazing Bnos advisors and we started it in one city as a trial, with everyone assuming the program wouldn’t last long,” said Mrs. Hass. “But we kept on getting requests for Pen Pals from Bnos branches in different cities, with participants telling us that the corresponding with their pen pals really makes them feel connected to other girls their age in different cities.”
Many friendships started through Pen Pals have continued even when the school year has finished. Some participants have had the opportunity to meet at intercity Shabbos events or on other occasions, further deepening relationships that began with a simple letter. Creating that sense of community, with the realization that being a Bnos member means being part of a nationwide organization, brings with it tremendous pride and enthusiasm, said Mrs. Hass.
“Especially in the smaller cities, the girls realize that their Bnos is part of something much larger, which is why we also do conference calls for our advisors, the Bnos convention, newsletters, Bnos Bikur Cholim, Bnos 1 on 1 and so many other programs,” explained Mrs. Hass.
Continuing that crucial sense of achdus, Bnos will be starting a Sefira program titled “Count Your Good Deeds.” A call in hotline will have girls sharing acts of chesed they did that week, with special rewards for the highest number of chasadim reported.
“Our Sefira program is just another example of how Bnos is working hard to keep our girls connected, letting them now that they are not just part of their local Bnos, but valued members of a national organization that does so much for so many,” said Mrs. Hass.