Hope In Difficult Times

Dear Friends of Habonim Dror:

I know you share the feeling, in this week of Pesach, that these are difficult times. The families of the hostages face the impossible prospect of celebrating the “feast of freedom” when there will be empty chairs at the Seder table; Israel has just emerged from a terrifying missile attack from Iran; the war continues in Gaza, with little sense of how it will end; and the diaspora Jewish community is shaken by sobering changes in the social and political landscape in which we live. As we sit around the seder table, we will hold our movement graduates in Israel and our larger Israeli family close in our hearts.

Participants of a Habonim Dror Israel program hiking.

Habonim Dror Israel programs foster future Jewish leaders.

Despite all this, we hope each of you will be strengthened by the trajectory of our people’s story—the journey, not once but “in every generation,” from oppression to freedom,
and towards a world of justice and peace.

I wish you and the entire Habonim Dror family a zissen pesach, a sweet Passover season

Tom Gutherz
Chair, Habonim Dror Foundation

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Habonim Dror: More Important Than Ever

Dear Friends,

Like you, the Habonim Dror Foundation and the entire Habonim Dror family has been devastated since October 7 as we live through these unprecedented times. We grieve for the loss of life and pray for the safe return of hostages. And we know that many of you are supporting good causes that are seeking to ameliorate the trauma of these past weeks.

We also feel in our bones that October 7 has been a turning point for the American Jewish community. We may not yet understand the parameters of that changed landscape, but there is one thing we do know for sure. And that is that the Jewish youth will need places to go, now more than ever, where it is normal to be both a progressive as well as a Zionist, places where they can develop a deep love of Israel together with an honest understanding of its challenges.

Habonim Dror is such a place. Through our machanot (camps) and our national and Israel programs, the next generation of Jews will be educated for leadership in confronting the challenges facing Jewish students on our college campuses and in the wider community. A safe space that is committed both to Jewish peoplehood and to social justice for all.

In these troubled times, your contribution to the Habonim Dror Foundation [click here] is perhaps more important than it ever was. I hope you will help us guarantee the future for progressive Zionism in our communities. 

Participants of a Habonim Dror Israel program hiking.

Habonim Dror Israel programs foster future Jewish leaders.

And one more request: Please forward this e-mail to at least one friend from Habonim Dror who may not be on our mailing list but who you think might also want to support our mission.

Thanking you in advance,

Rabbi Tom Gutherz
Chairperson, Habonim Dror Foundation




Fighting for the Soul of Israel

Dear friends:

Every year at Passover, Jewish families gather around the table to remember the epic story of the downfall of tyrants and the struggle for freedom that gave birth to our people. Every year as we sit around our tables, we are urged to ask again what freedom means in our own generation.

Image of Habonim Dror Alumni protesting in Israel

Habonim Dror Alumni at protest in Israel

This year, all our minds and hearts are on the struggles in Israel, where our people and its dreams for a just, progressive and forward-looking future are facing what is
rightly called an existential threat. I imagine many of us will be having difficult and even heated discussions. Many of us will be asking more than just the four questions in the Haggadah; questions like “What if?” and “What’s next?”

image of Habonim Dror members protesting in New York

Habonim Dror members protesting in New York

But we will not have to ask: “Where is Habonim Dror? “ Because we know that those who have been raised with progressive Zionist and Jewish values in our machanot and on our Israel programs, and those who have made the commitment to live in Israel, are part of this struggle. They are and will continue to be on the streets and engaged in the activism that will chart the future of the vision we share.

In the words of Erica Kushner, mazkirol (secretary-general) of our movement in North America: We have a long history of holding the vision and the reality of Israel side by side. And we will not let the current government stop us from making our demand for an Israel that is democratic, Jewish and just—a place to build the dream into a reality.”

I am making a generous contribution today to the Habonim-Dror Foundation,  whose exclusive purpose is to support the work of Habonim-Dror and to ensure its future.

I hope you will join me.


Rabbi Tom Gutherz
Chairperson, Habonim Dror Foundation

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Canadians can now donate and deduct!
Canadians can donate to the Habonim Dror Foundation Canada Fund.

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Please help us reach our 2022 Annual Fundraising Goal!

Dear Habonim Alumni and Friends,

On a recent trip to Israel, I spent time with Habonim Dror olim at their urban kibbutzim in struggling neighborhoods.

In Petach Tikvah, a city in central Israel, the local “kibbutz” has established a weekly food bank for people, including foreign workers, who suffer from food insecurity in town. Building relationships with local produce merchants, they distribute fresh fruits and vegetables every week to those in need. The personal connections generated by this small initiative are only a piece of a larger network of relationships they have made in the process of living and working in the town, which allows them to be an effective agent for social change.

These Habonim Dror alumni – like so many of their chevrei throughout Israel, the US, and Canada – are leading lives guided by the core values- the pillars – that they first learned at Habonim Dror camps and movement activities.

Will you donate to make sure these values continue to inspire young Jews today and tomorrow?




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The Isaac Merkel Scholarship Fund

Announcing The Isaac Merkel Scholarship Fund

Announcing The Isaac Merkel Scholarship Fund for participants in Habonim Dror Israel programs in honor of Isaac Merkel

Our thanks to Joan Isa Berelowitz for her generous matching grant to establish the Isaac Merkel Scholarship Fund for HDNA participants in Israel Programs and to honor her heroic uncle Isaac's  memory. Your gift will be doubled! 

Use the link below to donate by credit card or visit the Habonim Dror Website donation page for other options.

Learn more about Isaac and this enduring scholarship.

Connecting Charlottesville with the Leaders of Habonim Dror

Dear chaverot and chaverim:

In August of 2017, I saw with my own eyes the hate marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, where I am a rabbi. I saw the faces and heard the chants of “Jews will not replace us.”

Since that time, it has become clear to anyone who is paying attention that antisemitism is indeed increasing, both in terms of actual incidents as well as in a resurgence of classic anti-Semitic tropes in the political discourse. Jewish conspiracy theories that all of us thought had been consigned to the dust-bin of history have risen, zombie-like, to find new audiences among people who are too young to remember the consequences of such propaganda. And the inability of some sectors of the anti-racism movements on the left to fully recognize the vulnerability many Jewish Americans feel is troubling.

Picture of Rabbi Tom Gutherz Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville VA

Rabbi Tom Gutherz
Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville VA
Member Board of Trustees
Habonim Dror Foundation

Even in the aftermath of synagogue shootings, some cannot shake the long-standing conviction that Jews are a a community of privilege that “can take care of themselves.”

The Jewish community will be struggling to find the right response to the growing antisemitism on both the left and the right. Israel’s continuing drift towards the right gives more fodder to our genuine enemies on the left, and creates alienation with those who legitimately seek to end the injustice of the occupation. A savvy dark web stokes the alienation and rage of “white ethnocentrics” who are given cover by a public agenda that cynically promotes fear-mongering towards those who are not “true Americans.“

It is our young people who find themselves at the front line of these battles on college campuses, and who will emerge as the next generation of leadership in the American Jewish community. Those of us who grew up in Habonim Dror can appreciate the importance of the voice that we bring to these conversations: a progressive Zionist voice that acts in solidarity with struggles for justice in this country that is also able to articulate and to work for a different vision for Israel’s future.

When I meet and speak with the bogrimot of our movement, I am reminded again of how important it is to support this voice. Through its movement activities and machanot, Habonim Dror continues to nurture a different voice which will become ever more important in the struggle for the soul of the next generation of American Jews. I am giving them my support. I hope you will do the same.

Please make a generous donation today!!

Rabbi Tom Gutherz

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Why I Made Aliyah as a 24-Year-Old American

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By Anya Friedman-Hutter May 2018

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"Why are you here?”

It was my fourth day in Israel as a new immigrant and my first day on the job as an educator for one of Israel’s largest youth movements—and I was startled to be asked such a direct question.

​I wiped the sweat from the September heat off my forehead and looked at this ninth-grader who managed to take a selfie, smoke a cigarette and talk to me all at the same time. She continued, “You were in America. Things are fun there. Why would you come to this hole?”  Read the full article

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A Time to Take Stock

A time to take stock of what is good and precious…   And a time for us to support and protect what is good and precious

Dear Friends,

What an unsettling time we are living in… anxious days and sleepless nights for many of us.  Prospects for peace are dim in Israel, the future here in the States is uncertain at best, frightening at worst.

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