Defying the image of American aliyah as reserved for the politically conservative, a group of 12 liberal young Jews from the Habonim Dror North America movement will move to Israel this September to form an urban kibbutz.
“This is one of the most exciting developments in Labor-Zionist aliyah in the past two decades,” says Talia Spear, the national director of Habonim Dror. “While individuals from Habonim Dror have been immigrating to Israel for many years, this is the first time in decades that activists are making aliyah together as a group. Their decision is stirring up a lot of energy across the movement. We’re hoping that this group will be the first in a new wave of young, progressive, North Americans moving to Israel.”
The group is made up of recent college graduates who are dedicated to a progressive Zionist vision that seeks to promote a just peace, to advance Jewish culture, to create a society rooted in value-based education, to fight racism and to combat threats to Israeli democracy.
The young people grew up attending Habonim Dror summer camps across North America and many had their first significant group experience in Israel on Habonim Dror’s teen summer program, Machaneh Bonim Israel. The group attributes its most defining experience to be participating in Habonim Dror’s gap year Workshop program in Israel (a program supported by both MASA and Repair the World), where they learned about Israeli culture and volunteered in educational settings in under-served communities. This formative experience led them to choose paths in college that allowed them to contribute to their Jewish communities and to principals of social justice. Their Jewish identity was further shaped throughout their college years by continuing reflection and discussion on the nature of Judaism and their personal responsibility to the Jewish people.
As seniors in college, they held an aliyah pilot trip to Israel, and decided to move to Israel as a collective. While most of them intend to work at first in Habonim educational settings, helping to facilitate the learning and community service of others, some will begin working immediately within Israeli society.