Habonim was founded in 1929 in the United Kingdom and over a period of years, spread to all English-speaking countries. Each country developed its own independent version of the original movement whilst sharing the core ideology of being a Jewish Socialist-Zionist cultural youth movement.
Dror was founded in Poland in 1915 out of a wing of the Tze'irei Tziyon (Zion Youth) study circle. The majority of Tze'irei Tziyon had merged with a group called Hashomer in 1913 to form Hashomer Hatzair, and those who remained outside of the new group formed Dror. The group was influenced by the teachings of the Russian Narodniks.
Dror was aligned with the HaKibbutz Hameuhad network, while Habonim was aligned with the Ichud kibbutzim. When the two kibbutz movements merged in 1980 to form the United Kibbutz Movement (TaKa"M), so did their respective youth movements.
Habonim Dror is a Jewish Socialist-Zionist cultural youth movement, which exists to educate and bring Jewish culture to its members, both within Israeli society and in the Jewish Diaspora. One of the main concepts of the movement's ideology is that of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that means "mending the world" which originated in the early rabbinic period of Judaism. The Movement ideology falls into different categories. They are Hagshama Atzmit (Self-realisation), Socialism/Social Justice, Zionism, Judaism and Chalutziut (Pioneering). These categories are not independent ideologies, each platform helps to integrate one of them with the others. Every chaver(a) (member) embodies the spirit of Habonim Dror, based on their shared experiences and values gained in the movement. Habonim Dror's ideology is an attempt to represent that spirit in words.
The expression of these ideals involves various kinds of meetings and outdoor activities including scouting, camping, rambling, map reading as well as the education of the geography and history of Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). Jewish history is given attention, as are songs and dances taken from the pioneer days of the present State. The socialist ideal extends to both the kibbutz and the modern "irbutz," or urban communal living spaces movements, some of which were founded by Habonim Dror members.
At least in The Netherlands, Haboniem-Dror is based on three so-called "pillars": socialism, zionism and Judaism. Socialism and Zionism are named first because they are much more prominent in Haboniem. Judaism is more on the background since the main purpose of Haboniem is to facilitate the building of the new state of Israel rather than practicing Judaism.
Haboniem has always been a socialist movement at its core. The main principles of equality and sharing are very prominent in the movement. Everyone is treated as equal to each other ( of course there is a divide between chanichiem and madrichiem) and everyone uses the same facilities such as bathrooms, shared bedrooms, and a main dining room. This Socialism resulted in a very active community in the scope of socialism but this since has changed for a more modest community. This is probably a result of Socialism being viewed as bad instead of a good thing. Now only a small portion of members remain active in the scene. The unity and equality can also be seen at the tradition of the mivkad or the roll call held every morning (excluding the sabbath). At the mivkad the program of the day is presented and two songs are sung. The two songs are:
During the singing of these songs the flags of Haboniem and the Israeli flag are hoisted.
Haboniem is a Zionist youth movement. Zionism ( supporting the creation of a state for Jews) is one of the principles of Haboniem. Many of the educational programs offered by Haboniem during their activities are about Zionism and Socialism. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s many members went on Aliyah and so the main purpose of Haboniem was mostly fulfilled. Today, the Zionism has transformed in a more educational purpose, the education during the day consists of discussions on modern-day Zionism and how it has transformed. Due to the recent controversy surrounding Israel Haboniem has reevaluated its stance on the topic. It remains in favor of a state for Jews and is positive towards Israel. It did distance itself from the settlements in The West Bank and has expressed concerns about the current government in Israel.
Judaism is a less important aspect inside Haboniem, because it wants to be inclusive for all Jews in the Netherlands, Judaism is, however, a criterium you have to meet to be a member ( it does not follow the Hallaca and most of the time having a grandparent who is Jewish is enough to be accepted). Judaism is not actively practiced but on every Sabbath the prayers are said and after the meal, they thank The Lord for the dinner. At the end of the Sabbath, the Havdalah is said. Any religious symbols are not common and the only time they are really present is during the Sabbath and on the Israeli flag that is visible at the activities. The wearing of the Kippah or any form of covering for the body is not required.
Quoting the official history of Habonim Great Britain, "a certain mystique surrounded the question of who founded the Habonim Movement but there is little doubt that the major personality behind the idea was Wellesley Aron". Aron acknowledges that he could not have succeeded without Chaim Lipshitz, who organized the first model Gedud (group), and Norman Lourie, whose enthusiasm helped generate other volunteer leaders. Lourie went on to found Habonim South Africa. Encouraged by them, Aron wrote the outline for the first Handbook and by April 1929 their organization was given the name Habonim. This was followed the next month, May 1929, by the first group, "Gedud Trumpeldor" led by Lipschitz. This date is acknowledged as the official founding date of Habonim.
According to Aron, he modeled Habonim after Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts. The idea soon spread to other English-speaking countries and ex-colonies where Jews resided. In 1930, Norman Lourie founded Habonim Southern Africa, with the first camp taking place at Parys in 1931. Initially the idea was a "Jewish Youth Cultural Movement" for children aged between 12 and 18. Unlike other organizations in other countries, the movement was initially intended to be of a non-Zionist (non-political) kind.
Lipschitz was the natural person to lead the first group since he had already organized meetings of boys at his father's Cheder (school room) and they were well established by December 1928. (Incidentally this Cheder was one of the few more-progressive of these establishments, many were unattractive places that taught only traditional Hebrew and Torah (Biblical law).) The new group was where Chaim taught Modern Hebrew along with songs and dances of the Jewish settlers in Palestine, Jewish history and various games. Chaim was assisted by Norman Lourie, a visitor from South Africa who had previously visited Palestine. The aim of these group meetings was to attract and better educate the Jewish children of immigrants from Poland and Russia (mostly pre 1905, when immigration to the U.K. was severely limited), about their Jewish history and about the progress of the Jews presently living in Palestine. These children had somewhat dismal lives in the slums of the East-End, (Stepney and Whitechapel) which were not lightened by the mostly poor Cheder education system then available.
The first meeting of leaders of the Jewish youth community as reported by Wellesley Aron, was in a letter to Dr. S. Brodetsky (of the Zionist Foundation) on 11 January 1929. Wellesley mentioned that only 5 people attended, but that Norman Lourie (the third founder) called a larger meeting for the following week (10 January) where representatives from at least 7 Jewish youth organizations were present. This meeting was in London at 77 Great Russel Street EC1. England at this time was the center of political Zionism, after the Balfour Declaration in 1917 had stated that "His Majesty's Government favourably viewed the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine" (then under British mandate).
The new youth movement Habonim (The Builders) was deliberately non-Zionist in ideology. The first Gedud Trumpeldor was built on Lipschitz's existing youth group in Stepney with Lipshitz as Rosh (leader) assisted by Norman Lourie. In May 1929 the first 27-page hand-booklet detailing how Habonim was to function was published by Aron with help in the mimeographing from Norman Lourie and his lady friend Nadia, who he later married.
They both returned to Norman's home country South Africa in 1930, to establish Habonim branches in various towns and countries in that continent and in India.
The Movement grew very rapidly. In London alone there were 21 groups by 1932. The Movement had at least 2,500 members by the time of their ten-year "Jamboree Camp" in 1939. The various gedudim or groups were initially single sex (like the Scouting Movement) but were soon were changed for boys and girls together. Associated but not part of the Movement were training farms, called Hachshara farms, for the older members to learn about agriculture and life on kibbutz, to which their aliyah (or "going-up" to Eretz Yisrael) would eventually lead.
During the Second World War the senior members of Habonim helped to organize and take care of the many refugee children who escaped from the Nazis through special Kindertransports. Their parents had agreed to this tragic life-time separation, which was arranged through some of the more future-minded Jewish organizations remaining in Europe. Other members whose aliyah was delayed due to the war, helped the war-time food shortage to be met by working as groups of laborers on various farming communities.
Graduates of British Habonim contributed significant manpower to the establishment of many kibbutzim in Israel, among others, Kfar Blum, Kfar Hanasi, Beit HaEmek, Mevo Hama, Tuval and Amiad of these the most British is Kfar Hanassi.
Famous graduates of the two movements include:
Habonim Dror operates in Aotearoa New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
Habonim Dror Aotearoa New Zealand (HDANZ) has 3 main centres; Auckland being the largest, then Wellington and Christchurch. Each Ken runs weekly meetings. The movement come together for various seminars during the year as well as winter and summer camps. The summer camps run for ten days and are always in tents and on a farm. Habonim Dror Aotearoa New Zealand is possibly the last Jewish youth movement in the world to run their summer camps entirely under canvas, including digging own toilets. Winter camps are shorter and are held in cabins due to Aotearoa New Zealand's climate. Habo ANZ celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018. Habonim Dror Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC).
The first steps of the TNUA in Argentina from the year 1934, when installation occurs in Buenos Aires Hejalutz Dror, by European influence. Several years later, in 1945 in Argentina hajsará arises from the hand of the other branch that later integrate what is currently moviemiento we are talking about Ichud Habonim. By 1980 there is the merger and Ichud Habonim Dror, forming what is now known as Habonim Dror. This unification occurs after the formation of the Kingdom of the Kibbutz Movement, Takam. Before this event, Dror was aligned with the network "Meiujad" (Meuhad) while Kibbutz Habonim was integrated with the kibbutzim of "Ichud." Today our TNUA has keinim in 8 provinces, with over 300 active chaverim. Through the Shnat Hajshara, encouraging continuing to live their bogrim significant experience in the State of Israel, seeking to strengthen identification with Jewish culture.
Habonim Dror has four kenim (branches) around Australia. They are in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Ken Ha'Shemesh Ha'Olah, which runs online and branches out to smaller communities around the country. Habonim Dror Australia runs weekly meetings for students from years three to twelve as well as biannual camps. Each state runs independent winter camps and a summer camp for junior students (years three to eight), while annually in January all state movements come together for a federal camp (FEDCAMP) for years nine to twelve, which runs for ten days. Habonim Dror Australia is a member of the Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC).
Every year chanichimot (members) who have just finished high school travel to Israel for a year on Shnat Hachshara Ve'Hadracha le'Aliyah, commonly referred to as Shnat, where they go on an extensive experiential and educational process and actively carry out movement aims and engage with Israeli society.
Habonim was first brought to Australia in 1940, when seven new Australians decided to create a Zionist youth movement along similar lines to those that already existed in Europe. In March of that year the first meeting was held in Melbourne's Herzl Hall, and later in December, Habonim's first summer camp.
After a brief union with Betar in 1942, Habonim grew into an Australia-wide movement in May 1944. The following year, Habonim Australia's first hachshara (preparation, in Hebrew?) farm was established in Springvale, about 25 km out of Melbourne's centre. The next year five Habonim graduates made aliyah settling on Kibbutz Kfar Blum.
In 1957, the first organised group of Habonim graduates made aliyah in a garin to Kibbutz Yizre'el. Six garinim would ultimately be formed with the intention of making aliyah. It is unclear how many succeeded.
In recent years, there has been a new drive of garin aliyah from HDOZ, with Garinim settling in Haifa, Tiberias and Tel Aviv. Garinim such as Ayalah (Shnat 2012), Mafteach (Shnat 2013) and Emesh (2014) have all renewed chalutzik aliyah from HDOZ.
At an Australia-wide level (federal), there is an executive secretariat (mazkirut, in Hebrew) which includes a Secretary-General (mazkir, in Hebrew?), Treasurer (gizbar, in Hebrew?), a Head of Education (rosh chinuch, in Hebrew: ) and a Shnat co-ordinator ("rakaz shnat", in Hebrew: ). The current executive secretariat is made up of Reuben Challis, Nick Gerstel, Matthew Levy and Shai Pik. Similarly, each individual branch has a mazkir, gizbar and rosh chinuch executive position, along with an external community liaison ("meta'em", in Hebrew) and an additional position for a representative from the year level returning from shnat.
Each shichvah (year level) has a tzevet (team) of madrichim (leaders) responsible for their educational process and general wellbeing. These madrichim will prepare and run peulot (activities) on a weekly basis for their chanichim, as well as biannual camps and other extra events such as shabbatonim (sleepover on shabbat). Tzvatim are made up of bogrim (madrichim who have returned from shnat) and madatzim (year 11 chanichim). Senior tzvatim are made up solely of bogrim, while junior tzvatim are primarily madatzim leading alongside bogrim who help guide them through their first year of leading. There is also a tzevet that is responsible for running peulot for bogrim themselves, ensuring that there is a continued educational process among the educators.
Additionally, there are other tafkidim (roles) that allow for madrichim to take responsibility for various aspects of the movement such as Judaism, Zionism, gardening, equipment and politics and social action.
The Belgian ken is one of the biggest in Europe. Every Saturday afternoon, 130 chaverim and madrichim get together in Brussels.
The movement arrived in Brazil by influences of the Argentine activists, and began in Porto Alegre, in 1945 and then moved to São Paulo also in 1945. Within a few years, Habonim reached Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro. Some time later, it arrived in Recife, Salvador and Belo Horizonte. And, more recently, it reached Manaus and Fortaleza.
At these nine branches across the country, Habonim runs weekly activities for children, teenagers and young adults from 7 to 22 years old, as well as weekly-long Machanot (camps) in Summer and Winter. Also twice a year is held the National Machaneh.
Once in a two-year cycle, a Veidah Artzit (National Convention) is held, comprising a meeting of all the senior members of the National Movement. The Veidah has powers to modify HD Brazil's ideological platform, as long as it doesn't oppose to the World Movement's principles.
The Mexico City ken is one of the most international connected keniano in the world working with North American and Latin America at the same time. Every Saturday afternoon, 10p chaverim and madrichim get together in Mexico City.
|Merged into||Haboniem-Dror beHolland|
|Purpose||The building of a state for Jews in Israel|
|Netherlands and Flanders|
|Dutch, Hebrew, Flemish, English|
In the 1920s the Joodse jeugdfederatie (Jewish Youth Federation) was founded by Zionist Jewish youngsters. The federation was open to all Jews in the Netherlands and it brought together a large number of young Jews seeking unity and comfort. The Federation supported the creation of a national Jewish home in former Palestine. During the World War II, many members were murdered in The Holocaust. After the war, those who survived and former members came into contact with the in 1928 formed Habonim in the United Kingdom. For 22 years the two movements worked together and this eventually led to the creation of Haboniem beHolland in 1950 (It would not receive official international recognition until 1951). During the following decades Haboniem gathered many followers, many of them Jewish teenagers seeking a way out of their lives with their parent. The purpose of Haboniem beHolland was to help in the building of Israel by supporting the aliyah, the movement of Jews to the Promised Land. The purpose has since changed to educating members about Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of the Jewish People. In 1958 Haboniem merged with the Kibbutz movement Meyuchad, this lead to the merging with the in 1915 formed "dror". In the present day, Haboniem-Dror counts around 300 members of which around 150 are active and pay a contribution. The supporting of aliyah is mostly put aside for educating the Jewish youth on Israel, although it still remains something that some members undertake.
Haboniem-Dror organizes a number of activities for its members, the most prominent are The five camps and weekends or machanot ; "afdelingen", The general members assembly, "Habo Goes" and the "Israelreis".
Twice a year, a general members assembly is held. Any member of Haboniem can attend. During the assembly, the progress of the movement is discussed and the financial plans are revealed. During the assembly, any member above 12 years old and who pays contribution can vote and put a motion on the floor. At the summer assembly, a new board is chosen. During some assemblies, the articles of association are changed. The last account of this was the change in 2014.
Habo goes are activities that take place outside the clubhouse (not including the machanot). These activities are often in the open air such as a barbecue or a sports day.
Haboniem has a group-based structure of members. The members who are under 17 years old ( JK7 or lower) are called chanichiem and the group above 17 years old is called madrichiem. Madrichiem are the leaders of the camp and are responsible for the organization, leading of the JKs, cooking, general entertainment, and the logistics. The main structure of groups is as follows: there are 6 official groups of chanichiem called JKs and from JK6 onwards the naming of groups stops since the members are all madrichiem by then ( unofficially there is a continuation of count).
Habonim in North America (HDNA) was founded in April 1935 by Young Poale Zion, the youth arm of the Poale Zion Party, at a convention in Buffalo, NY. At its height, the movement had over 2,000 campers attending eleven summer camps throughout the US and Canada. Today, Habonim Dror North America (HDNA) runs many programs during the year, including a biannual veida (a mass meeting with representatives from around the movement), local events in central cities, kibbutzim in Israel, a year-long program in Israel (called Workshop), and many other ideology-focused gatherings. The Movement membership currently exceeds 1,700 youth and has been growing steadily over the past decade.
HDNA also runs six summer camps (called Machanot) across the continent. These have become a large part of the movement and in most cases are more important to members than local meetings (called ken meetings) since they play a key role in involving and recruiting new members to the movement. The six camps are as follows:
Some now defunct camps and Habonim hachshara farms are:
Additionally, a five-week trip, named Machaneh Bonim in Israel (MBI) is a summer tour of Israel for 16-year-olds (summer after 10th grade). Students from the seven camps spend time together and learn about Israel and the movement.
HDNA publishes B'tnua, the regular movement magazine.
Habonim Dror collaborated with Ameinu, Hashomer Hatzair, and Meretz USA to form the Union of Progressive Zionists campus network, which has now become J Street U, to which Habonim Dror North America only has an affiliation.
Habonim Dror Southern Africa (HDSA) was founded in 1930 by Norman Lourie. HDSA draws its membership from the Southern African region. However the vast majority of its membership comes from South Africa. HDSA's two primary centres are based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, although the movement is active across the country.
HDSA defines itself as a Jewish Zionist Youth movement (See HDSA Constitution 2009 HDSA classifies itself as a left-wing movement. Unlike other Habonim Dror movements, HDSA does not classify itself as socialist but rather supports economic and social equality.
HDSA also places immense value on active citizenship and thus strives to educate its members on South Africa and encourages them to be active in creating a just and equal post apartheid South Africa.
HDSA annually hosts one of the largest summer camps in the Southern Hemisphere at their campsite in Onrus outside Cape Town. During the year, consistent activities are run for its members who range from the ages of 9-23. The ideological tenets of the movement such as Zionism, Socialism and Service to Humanity inform many of these activities. Additionally, HDSA runs an annual tour to Israel for 16-year-olds and sends many of its members on a ten-month post school program to Israel.
Habonim Dror United Kingdom (HDUK) has six kenim (branches) around the United Kingdom. They are in London, Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham. Habonim Dror United Kingdom runs meetings throughout the year as well as a Machaneh and Israel Tour in the Summer.
Habonim Dror has five Machanot, one on a residential site in Wales, where chanichimot (participants) will spend time hiking, in education activities, celebrating shabbat and many other activities. Additionally, there is Sayarim Machane which is run in Holland. This Machane is focused on Holocaust education, and is well known for the quality of education and the experience on this Machane.
When chanichimot are 16 they go on the Israel Tour, a month trip around Israel, where they are immersed in the culture and history of Israel. In this time, chanichimot will travel around Israel, learning about and visiting a variety of sites, they will also be volunteering and spending an entire day with other Habonim Dror tour participants from all over the world.
After returning from Israel Tour, participants become Madrichimot (leaders) and will spend the year doing Hadracha (leadership) training in preparation for them to take on roles in the summer across a variety of Machanot.
Every year chanichimot who have just finished high school travel to Israel for a year on Shnat Hachshara, commonly referred to as Shnat, where they go on an extensive experiential and educational process and actively carry out movement aims and engage with Israeli society.
Media related to Habonim Dror at Wikimedia Commons