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In the past five years, the number of Habonim Dror Bogrim (graduates) who have made aliyah and joined the burgeoning urban kibbutz movement has grown to an incredible 80 chaverim!

Haverim of the educators' kibbutz in Sderot on a hike.

Earlier generations of Habonim Dror graduates who made aliya were instrumental in establishing Kibbutzim such as Kfar Blum, Urim, Gesher Haziv and Gezer. The idea of “chalutzic aliyah” has evolved and today our movement Olim Chadashim are deeply engaged with urban Israeli society in many exciting and inspiring ways.

We asked some of them to share their experiences with us, and here's what they had to tell us:

Gabe Katzman, Tiberias

"When Garin Sfina made Aliyah two years ago, all the Olim from the modern Habonim Dror wave of aliyah lived in Haifa. Our first year living in Haifa was a whirlwind of adapting to tons of transitions. It was really hard to navigate the “klita” (absorption) process; we dealt with the language barrier and cultural differences, the challenge of building a home together, and learning a new movement. Throughout this period, we grew and learned together as a kvutzah and because we all were going through the same thing, we were able to be there for each other. Doing this with a movement helped us feel valued and supported.

Habonim bogrim getting ready for the Jerusalem Pride Parade.

Today though, Olim live from Be'er Sheva to Karmiel and while I miss the community of Olim in Haifa, I think that there is something truly special and revolutionary about our choice to move to Tiberias a year ago. We moved because we wanted to take on roles in various movement activities in the North that were desperately in need of more madrichim (counselors) and because we wanted to create a more Hebrew-centered community for ourselves. Living and working beside two other kvutsot of native-born Israelis, we have also started to see success in both.

Living in Tiberias can be challenging. We definitely feel the fact that we are in the “periphery”, the farther and more neglected parts of Israel, especially with the city shutting down on evenings and Shabbat. It really feels that sometimes Israelis living closer to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem don't care about the people here. At the end of the day, however, choosing to share the daily challenges of those who live in the periphery has given us a far more comprehensive picture of Israeli society as a whole. We feel that we are following in the footsteps of the original Chalutzim to shape and build Israeli society with the movement as our partners.”

Matan Naamani, Jerusalem

"About two years ago, my kvutzah, a combination of one Garin from North America and one from Australia made a decision to move to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a vital center of Jewish consciousness and Israeli politics (for better and quite often for worse). It is also a hard place to live, given the political and cultural tensions that are constantly present there, and certainly for us as progressive Jews. Importantly though, we understood that whatever good or bad comes out of Jerusalem is a powerful example to the rest of Israeli society and its influence on what it means to be Jewish and/or Israeli is immense. Perhaps more important in our decision was the fact that there were 30 bogrimot (graduates) of our sister movement, Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed who asked us to come join them in forming an urban kibbutz. They wanted us to be their partners in shaping Israeli society and believed that for a Zionist movement to fulfill its values it needed to embrace Olim and the perspective they have of the wider Jewish world. They didn’t necessarily know what challenges the differences between us might bring, but they wanted to learn and deal with those challenges and so did we.

Garin sfina in Tiberias, with their madrichim.

Since moving to Jerusalem, many member of our kvutza have become madrichim, coordinators and leaders of Hanoar Haoved and other educational projects in and around Jerusalem. We’ve built partnerships with the tzabarim (native Israelis) here, have started building connections and roots in our neighborhood and have leaned-in pretty heavily to the complexity of the city. As I’m writing this I am in my last week on the tzevet (staff) of the Jerusalem district of Hanoar Haoved and am figuring what will be next. The move to Jerusalem, and my experience running two kenim in the area (one small new ken, and then the flagship ken of the district), have given me a complex view of the social, political, and historic realities of Israel and Jerusalem today and many skills with which to meaningfully shape these places. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for myself, for my kvutzah, for the movement and for this city."

Carmi Tint, Sderot

"A year ago, I, along with four other Olim from Habonim Dror North America joined 35 other chaverim from Dror Israel (graduates of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed) at the Urban Educators Kibbutz located in Sderot. In addition to continuing our work with Habonim Dror we have also been working with our Israeli sister movement Hanoar Haoved and creating unique projects in Sderot.

Over the past year, some of us helped to organize a group of parents who wanted to work to increase the community's resilience and develop residents' agency to lay the foundation for community action during periods of calm as well as periods of tension (Sderot is located on the border with Gaza). As a response to the most recent wave of terror during the summer months, this leadership group planned and executed a day camp as a way to take responsibility for all of the children in the neighborhood in a safe and communal way. During these last few months, this new project brought a sense of hope and togetherness for all - the parents, the children, and the chaverim from our kibbutz who were involved."

Habonim Dror continues to nurture and build Jewish identity and engagement with Israel. The leaders are truly “youth leading youth,” they are dedicated and talented, but they cannot go it alone. That is where we come in, the alumni and friends.  

Please consider making a donation to support the work of Habonim Dror and these amazing Habonim Dror graduates. 

2018 was an exciting year of accomplishments that can only continue with your support:

  • Habonim Dror sent over 200 participants to Israel programs this past year. 
  • Our summer camps were attended by over 1500 participants at eight machanot.
  • Our college aged chevre (ma’apilim) are key activists on college campuses and in cities across North America.
  • Year-round activities, seminars and conventions take place in over 30 Kenim (branches) across North America.
  • Our graduates, those making aliya to Israel and those in the North American Jewish Community, assume leadership roles in their communities.They are in the forefront of activity for Tikun Olam (social justice) in North America, doing exciting work in Israel’s cities and orking towards coexistence among all the communities of Israel.