Renewal of Purpose Leading into the Summer

Almost six months into the war there is still no end in sight. The massacre of October 7th still sits heavy on the minds of the Jewish people and Israeli society, and many of the hostages are still not home. There is ongoing right-wing settler violence in the West Bank, there is an invasion looming in Rafah, there is catastrophic hunger in Gaza, and the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli assault is rising every day, including staggering numbers of civilians. This reality does not represent the vision of Habonim Dror North America for Israel and Palestine. A few weeks ago, HDNA, in partnership with the Progressive Israel Network, signed a letter urging President Biden and the United States government to call and work for the following three items:

  1. A bilateral ceasefire that brings a stop to fighting and a release of all hostages;
  2. A surge in humanitarian assistance;
  3. A plan for peace, security, freedom, and self-determination for all.

We want to be clear that this is the educational stance of Habonim Dror North America. We also want to be clear that we are a youth movement composed of diverse individuals and situated within varied communities. The views represented in HDNA are numerous and impossible to summarize in one set of positions. Movement members and alumni hold a diverse array of opinions that consistently lie in tension with each other. As an educational youth movement, we have emphasized the need to hold those tensions and to work within them, and to hold Shivyon Erech Ha’adam – the equality of human value – at the center of our pedagogical practice.


As the Mazkirut Artzit, whose role it is to hold these multiplicities contained in HDNA while also leading and setting an educational direction, we have chosen to affirm this stance. We add to this stance that it is time for Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist government to be voted out of office. There needs to be a new government to achieve peace and self-determination for all. His fight to remain in office has only prolonged the war in Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank, while also eroding democracy in Israel. Further, we demand a reality where there is a return to a negotiated, diplomatic process as a way to end the cycles of bloodshed and war. HDNA remains committed as a Socialist-Zionist youth movement to democratic Jewish self-determination. This stance cannot be divorced from our position that as a social justice oriented and socialist movement, there needs to be Palestinian self-determination. We are committed to working towards a shared future based on equality and peace. The struggle for liberation necessitates the freedom of all peoples in Israel and Palestine. 

At Veida 2022, HDNA reaffirmed its commitment to educational action on Israel, Palestine and Zionism. Since the war, HDNA has exemplified this by running a week of education focused on choosing life, running numerous peulot in-person and online that delved into the educational dilemmas of the moment, and organizing the PIN network to run an educational program on shared futures. In this way, we are an educational movement, but there are also many important political organizations whose work we want to highlight and support. These include but are not limited to: Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, JStreet, A Land for All, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Standing Together, T’ruah, and Women Wage Peace. We invite our ma’apilimot and bogrimot to join this work as many have already done.

We strive for a shared future in Israel and Palestine based on partnership and community. We do so educationally, by bringing our members into dilemmas – ones that not everyone will agree with – so that meaningful thought can be developed to then be turned into action, either by individual action, or through building education that explores these principles this summer at machaneh. It is only in the moments of deep disagreement that we move towards our vision for a shared future and we rely on every member of the movement to embrace the impact of those moments of disagreement. As HDNA, we invite you to take educational action and enter into dialogue and dilemmas, both to remember our shared core, but also to grow together. Here we have emphasized our shared core. It is by no means our final stance, but rather the beginning of an educational conversation.

Aleh v’Hagshem, 
Mazkirut Artzit 5784

Progressive Israel Network Statement on the Crisis in Israel and Gaza

October 11, 2023

Following is a statement by members of the Progressive Israel Network (PIN), a coalition of organizations representing Americans who are committed to pursuing democracy, equality and peace in Israel.

As we grasp the dimensions of the horror in southern Israel, the magnitude of the carnage, injury and destruction, we mourn the lives lost and wish a speedy and full recovery for those injured. We also urge the government of Israel, the Biden administration and all other stakeholders to immediately start negotiations over returning the hostages taken by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Their savage attack on Israel, beginning on Saturday, targeting civilians and murdering them in cold blood, is an inexcusable war crime.

We stand with the people of Israel in this very difficult time. Our hearts are with the Israeli public. We urge our members and supporters to assist our sisters and brothers in Israel in every way possible.

We express our deep appreciation to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken for supporting the people of Israel and for their diplomatic efforts to prevent a regional crisis.

Following the catastrophic security failure of the Netanyahu government, we urge Israeli authorities who are carrying out military operations in the Gaza Strip to act responsibly and respect international law. An irresponsible, rash reaction that violates the laws of war is likely to result in disastrous repercussions, further civilian casualties on both sides, and calamitous political consequences. Hamas’s horrific war crimes cannot justify further war crimes.

Going forward, we urge our government in Washington and the government of Israel to pave a path toward a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would put an end to the ceaseless cycle of violence and suffering between Israelis and Palestinians.

The following PIN organizations signed the statement:

Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Americans for Peace Now
Jewish Labor Committee
J Street
Habonim Dror North America
Hashomer Hatzair USA
New Israel Fund
New York Jewish Agenda
Partners for Progressive Israel
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Reconstructing Judaism
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Caring for the HDNA Community Following October 7th

Dear Tnua,

Over the past two days Israel has entered into a state of emergency unlike anything that we have experienced in the past 50 years. We are hearing from our friends and partners living throughout south and central Israel and understand that the situation is significantly worse than anyone first thought.

We stand with the people of Israel in mourning. Saturday was the deadliest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust and in all of Israeli history. We are appalled at the brutal terrorist actions of Hamas that have left untold hundreds dead, thousands injured, and many taken hostage. Additionally, we are deeply disturbed that anyone would praise these acts. No one, no matter your political opinions, should celebrate massacres, kidnapping, and other crimes against humanity.

We are sure that the days to come will only open further wounds, and we hope for the safety of all innocents. We grieve the senseless loss of innocent life and pray for the safe return of those taken hostage and for the safety of all those whose lives are now in danger.

In these times, as always, we stand in solidarity with the bogrimot of our movement and our sister movement in Israel; we see value in the community based education that HDNA provides. We believe in the ability of madrichimot and chanichimot to give each other the tools to face the reality we are living and to continue to build a better future. Moving forward, we call upon the members of HDNA to be there for one another despite any ideological disagreements and to engage in sichot as madrichimot, chanichimot, and chevrei kvutza.

Although these are the moments when it is most difficult, these are also the moments when it is critical to be a source of strength for each other and for your chanichimot. Do not give in to despair or apathy. You are not alone in your fear and confusion, and together we struggle to build a world that is peaceful, just, and free.  

“There will be no victory of light over dark until we stand on the simple truth that instead of fighting the dark, we must build the light” – A. D. Gordon

Aleh v’Hagshem, 
Mazkirut Artzit 5784

A Message to our Community on October 7th

Dear Tnua,

This morning we woke up to the sound of sirens. From the stairwell of Garin Tzur’s apartment complex, we followed the news as the unanticipated attack that we are currently witnessing began to unfold on this traditionally joyous holiday. We watched with shock and heavy hearts as Hamas opened an attack on Israel on the scale of some of the largest conflicts in Israel’s history. Rockets continue to hit Israel, air attacks continue to hit Gaza, and ground fighting continues in Israeli towns near the Gazan border. We as a Mazkirut Artzit are safe, and the Workshoppers are safe. We have many partners in Israel, and we encourage the ma’apilimot and nachshonimot to reach out to their madrichimot and friends in Israel who are affected by this violence. Your messages and care matter to them. We also recognize that this violence impacts anyone who is invested in the region and in the Jewish people, and we encourage all chanichimot of the movement to reach out to friends, partners and madrichimot in these difficult times.


On a personal note for Habonim Dror, Ofir Libstein, the chair of the board of directors of Habonim Dror Olami, was killed in a gunfight defending his Kibbutz near Gaza. Ofir was a lifelong Kibbutz member who served as the chair of Habonim Dror for many years. He was the mayor of the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council, working diligently to take responsibility for the towns in the region including improving relations with Gazan neighbors and promoting cooperative efforts. His death is a shock and a tragedy for many in the Habonim Family and for all of the people of Israel. Our condolences go out to his family and the entire world Habonim Dror team. Zichrono Livracha. May his memory be for a blessing.


We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of life and the violence that this conflict has caused. We as a movement stand in solidarity with all peoples in Israel and Gaza, and we call for peace. In these disturbing times, we struggle, as always, for shared liberation.

Aleh v’Hagshem, 
Mazkirut Artzit 5784

Letter to President Biden

Dear T’nua,

Following Iran’s attack on Israel, the Progressive Israel Network wrote a letter to President Biden. Habonim Dror signed this letter because it both acknowledges the severity of the situation in Israel and the threat of Iran, while also calling for de-escalation and recognizing that not only is military conflict not a solution but that the focus in this moment needs to remain on ending the war in Gaza as the path to peace.

Aleh v’Hagshem, 
Mazkirut Artzit 5784

View the letter here

Condemning Anti-Asian Racism

Dear T’nua, 

As most of you know by now, 8 people, a majority of whom were Asian American women, were murdered in an anti-Asian hate crime on Tuesday. We mourn for them, for their families, and for the Asian community who are forced to live in fear of violence resulting from xenophobia and racism. 

We wanted to share the attached statement with you, which includes a list of resources and ways that you can take action. May the memories of those whose lives were ended on Tuesday be a blessing and a revolution.

Aleh v’Hagshem, 
Mazkirut Artzit 5781

Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Racism

#LeadTheHaboWay with Zach Boroda

Zach Boroda from Galil

Summer 2020 is a unique one in Habonim Dror North America history, with machanot meeting virtually or for day camps during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re asking our dedicated madrichimot what it’s been like to continue to #LeadTheHaboWay during this unprecedented time. 

Why did you choose to be a madrichol during the summer?

I chose to be a madrich this summer because I wanted to continue the traditions of camp through the pandemic. I wanted to make sure that machaneh existed as a space for my chanichimot in the same way that it existed for me.

How does it feel to meet chanichimot during this specific summer?

It is always an amazing experience meeting my chanichimot during the summer. This year despite all of our interactions taking place virtually it was still very exciting meeting my chanichimot.

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Zionism Zine

In HDNA we are often very busy educating and acting, but, especially as we enter a new year, we sometimes need to create and reflect. Check out this zine filled with art, writing, and poetry created by HDNA ma’apilimot, about the beauty, nuances, and challenges of Zionism. Thank you and kol hakavod to all the contributors! View select artwork from the zine below, or click here to view the full zine.

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#LeadTheHaboWay with Eliza Smith

Eliza Smith from Camp Gilboa

Summer 2020 is a unique one in Habonim Dror North America history, with machanot meeting virtually or for day camps during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re asking our dedicated madrichimot what it’s been like to continue to #LeadTheHaboWay during this unprecedented time. 

Why did you choose to be a madrichol during the summer?

Honestly, I was not that excited to work with kids this summer. I was planning on being Techni and spending most of my time in front of spreadsheets, so when I realized I would actually be spending most of my time planning and running programming, my brain had to do a bit of a switch. Even when I got used to the idea, I wasn’t confident that kids would be enthusiastic. How much fun can you really have over zoom? But I have been so so amazingly surprised. I’ve found that the kids have a genuine desire to be there and engage with the content we are bringing them in a way that makes all the work and screen time worth it.

Describe a peula you ran where you felt like you were making a difference for the chanichimot.

I ran a peula for bonimot (9th graders) zman kvutsa where we played a dungeons and dragons type game in which the kids’ quest was to get elected president. When we planned it, I wasn’t sure how much they would get into it. It demanded a lot of creativity and silliness to actually be fun, but they totally rose to the challenge. One chanichol was a hotdog who turned out to be a hamburger, but was able to recover her campaign through an instagram live, and another came up with the genius slogan “a vote for me is a vote for me.” I laughed the entire time. 

#LeadTheHaboWay with Hadas Kluger

Hadas Kluger from Camp Tavor

Summer 2020 is a unique one in Habonim Dror North America history, with machanot meeting virtually or for day camps during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re asking our dedicated madrichimot what it’s been like to continue to #LeadTheHaboWay during this unprecedented time. 

Why did you choose to be a madrichol during the summer?

Last summer was my first summer being a madrichol, and it was such a rewarding experience I knew I wanted to do it again. Then going on Workshop solidified how much I want and love to be a madricha, and how much I thrive off of helping others and giving back, just like my madrichimot did for me. I wanted to create an environment where even though obviously we’re not at Tavor this summer, we could all get together and support our community together. I was still be able to be a madricha with all the new things that I’ve learned on Workshop, even though it wasn’t the same as if we were at Tavor.

How does it feel to meet chanichimot during this specific summer?

It was really cool to try something new and be online and run different chuggim for kids. It didn’t feel exactly like it always did at machaneh. It was a cool challenge to try something new and be creative and still be able to talk to chanichim and have a relationship with them and catch up from wherever we left off last year.

Describe a peula you ran where you felt like you were making a difference for the chanichimot.

I ran a chug with another girl called the Tavor Turnip where we invited chanichimot every Wednesday to come and write satirical news articles. So some we’re like writing about their experiences at camp, or a survey about what do you like more, the chof or the brecha, things like that. Over the four weeks we were able to make a newspaper that’s coming out hopefully very soon. That gave them a purpose and made them feel connected, and it was really sweet. There were a bunch of young chanichimot who were really excited that they were like doing three different tafkidim all in one hour of when we were meeting. It was very interesting to catch up with them.