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

Picture of Anya Friedman-Hutter

By Anya Friedman-Hutter May 2018

Hadassah Magazine Logo

"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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OPINION Struggling for Zionism

“The entire Hatikvah platform was created out of what we thought was the best way to strengthen Israel and the Diaspora-Israel relationship.

By NATHAN HERSH \  02/23/2015 22:03

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A baby sits in front of an Israeli flag. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A baby sits in front of an Israeli flag. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A few weeks ago, MK Stav Shaffir lambasted the Bayit Yehudi Party in the Knesset. She told them that their corruption – transferring billions of shekels from Israeli taxpayers to the settlements – is an affront to real Zionism. She said, “real Zionism is solidarity, not only in battle, but in everyday life.”

MK Shaffir’s words ring as true in the United States Jewish community as they do in the Knesset. The past year has seen my organization, Partners for Progressive Israel, attacked by people and NGOs that intend to deprive progressive Jews of their voice in the Diaspora.   Read more ….


Habonim Dror Hosts Rabin Exhibit


Jewish Exponent Square

By: Amishai Gottlieb, © 2014 Jewish Exponent

Anyone who happened to pass by the library at the Jewish Community Services Building in Center City on Nov. 13-14 was virtually transported to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

In memory of the anniversary of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder on Nov. 4, 1995 by a right-wing Jewish activist, three Habonim Dror youth movement counselors — all college-aged — set up an exhibit in honor of the late leader.  READ THE FULL ARTICLE

ABOVE  Dan Shahar (right) does a trial lecture for fellow exhibit leaders (from left) Adi Goldberg, Hila Huber and Ross Weisman. Photo by Amishai Gottlieb.