Former National President of NA’AMAT Reflects on Her Experiences in Habonim

Liz Raider, bogeret (graduate) of Habonim from Workshop 8 and former president of NA’AMAT USA, shared her reflections about how her time in Habonim has influenced her life and work.

I was recently asked what were some of the most outstanding events during my time on the 8th Habonim Workshop (year program in Israel). This was not a simple question as Israel was so “new” in 1958 – and I thought about the excitement and pride of sitting on a rooftop in Tel Aviv and watching the National 10th Anniversary Parade of the State of Israel, and the opportunity to meet Ben Gurion in person as he was taking his morning walk in the Negev – the reality of a dream come true.

Joining Habonim was a major factor in setting me on a path that has influenced my life in many ways, including my long-time membership in NA’AMAT USA and the Labor Zionist movement.

I met my husband Dave in Cleveland Habonim, we were on the 8th Workshop together and we still maintain very close ties with many of these Workshop friends (“our chevra”) and other Habonim members from all over the USA and Canada.

Our three children were all active in Habonim as campers and counselors.

Mark was 12 when a friend invited him to a Habonim camp weekend, and soon Danny and Lani became campers at Gilboa. Throughout their junior and senior high school years they all actively participated in local meetings, activities and seminars.

Those years were defining moments for all of them as they spent great summers at Camp Gilboa, learning about Habonim through communal work, sharing, and discussions about Israel, while forming lasting personal friendships.

Betty Rath, president of Detroit Pioneer Women, addressing the 33rd Veida of Ichud Habonim in December of 1978.

Our house was always a gathering place for Habonim and NA’AMAT USA, with much of our lives revolving around support for the 2 organizations. During the school year, the many local LA activities of Habonim, the preparations for the annual Habonim play/musical production (Neshef,) and getting Camp Gilboa ready for the summer camp season were major events.

Then came their own Workshop experiences: Mark (31st Workshop, 1981-82, Kibbutz Urim), Danny (33rd Workshop, 1983-84, Kibbutz Gesher Haziv) and Lani (35th Workshop, 1985-86, Kibbutz Gezer). Mark was very involved in LA activities and other Habonim camps in the early ‘80s, and took time off from his university studies to become the North American Mazkir (Director) for Habonim Dror in the late 1980s.

Fortunately, Dave and I and our kids have all visited Israel many times, including the experiences of other numerous long-term stays, affording us the opportunity to see Israel evolve into a dynamic country and to know that we all had a part in working towards this goal. For all of us, our active involvement with Habonim Dror still remains a basic focal point in defining a connection with the American Jewish community and Israel.

Lani Raider on a tiyul on Workshop 35 (Kibbutz Gezer, 1985-1986)

NA’AMAT USA, originally known as “Pioneer Women”, was founded in 1925, and was the basis for the senior movement support for Habonim, with many of our members active on both levels. The Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley Councils of Pioneer Women/NA’AMAT USA were staunch supporters of Habonim activities, lending financial and moral support to the annual Habonim Neshef, encouraging summer camp enrollment and volunteering for work weekends at Gilboa. Habonim’s dance group was featured in numerous Pioneer Women/NA’AMAT events.

From 2010-2016 I served as the National President of NA’AMAT USA, the American “arm” of NA’AMAT Israel. We are a worldwide movement with nine other countries, ensuring the dream of continuing to build a strong and secure Israel through our efforts of creating a myriad of social services: day care centers, community centers, youth villages for education and training, scholarship programs for advanced education for women, and family counseling. We are known as the “go-to place” in Israel, with NA’AMAT as the largest provider of social services after the Israeli government. We work in tandem with NA’AMAT Israel to maintain a network that reaches every level of Israeli society.

Habonim Dror and NA’AMAT USA have been partners in both the United States and Israel in promoting the goals and ideals for the continuity of building a progressive and growing network for a new generation of “builders and dreamers”. This is a bond that remains a unifying and important effort in realizing our mutual efforts to sustain a strong connection with Israel and a commitment to ensure that future generations will experience our unique legacy.

Habonim Dror participates in Hakhel conference

Habonim Dror North America, Habonim Dror Australia, Habonim Dror New Zealand, and Hashomer Hatzayir North America members gathered at the annual Hakhel conference.

HDNA members from our communities in Philadelphia, Manhattan, and Brooklyn gathered with other Jews creating intentional communities at the annual Hakhel conference — including many of our Habo friends from Australia and New Zealand, and our partners from Hashomer Hatzair!

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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.

#LeadTheHaboWay with Jaymie Feldman

Jaymie Feldman from Camp Gesher

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 madrichol during the summer because for so many years I was fortunate enough to have the most incredible experiences at machaneh due to my tzevet, and I wanted to be able to pass that onto the chanichimot. I felt that it was especially important to be a madrichol during this specific summer, because although we are not able to be together in person, I want to make sure that the chanichimot never forget the magic of machaneh and kvutzah no matter how far apart they may be. 

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

Meeting with chanichimot this summer has truly been a unique experience. Although at first it felt weird not to be together in person, our virtual check-ins, activities, and peulot very quickly became just as meaningful and fun as they would have been at machaneh. Every time I have a call with my chanichimot, I can feel the ruach and love through my computer screen and it always leaves me smiling for hours.

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

I recently ran a virtual peula for my chanichimot where I tried to help them cope with their feelings of missing machaneh as a physical space. I had noticed many chanichimot feeling sad about this and I wanted us all to work through it together. For this peula, all of the chanichimot had the opportunity to draw pictures of their favourite places and/or memories of machaneh and then present them to the kvutzah. This activity allowed them to use creativity as an outlet for any feelings they were having towards the lack of our in-person summer in a positive way. I was able to aid the chanichimot and myself in turning sad and nostalgic thoughts into happy memories and excitement for the future. 

#LeadTheHaboWay with Daniel Fine and Rachel Eaton

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 this summer? 

Rachel, Shani and I chose to be madrichimot for the madatz at Miriam in a summer that we thought would be ideal and normal. These choices kind of seemed natural as the next steps we wanted to take in the movement but the harder choice that we didn’t think we were making when we signed up to do this, was to be madrichimot during a crisis..This required a second choice to reaffirm ourselves to not only choose to be madatz madrichimot but also to try and be madatz madrichimot without knowing exactly what the summer is going to look like…In the end we chose it and we chose it because we knew that specifically at Miriam we had a huge opportunity to create an experience for our chanichimot that not a lot of other machanot in the movement were able to create. 

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#LeadTheHaboWay with Eliza Roth

Eliza Roth, Machaneh Moshava

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 this summer? 

I chose to be a madrichol this summer because I felt that it was super important to create a way for chanichimot to feel connected to and supported by their Mosh community. Growing up as a chanichol, going to Mosh during the summer was vital for me: I looked forward to the summer all year. I wanted to ensure that chanichimot who feel the same way I felt are able to still connect with their peers and the Mosh community as a whole this summer, despite our inability to physically be at Mosh. 

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#LeadTheHaboWay with Zandra Campbell

Zandra Campbell, a madricha at Camp Galil in Pennsylvania.

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 this summer? 

I chose to be a madricha during the summer because it felt to me like it would be a really meaningful time where things were happening. It felt like a moment in which we actually got to choose if we want to engage in a radical process of living by our values, or in this time of hardship, are we going to say it’s hard and give up. For me, giving up didn’t seem like an option. It felt way more vital that now is a time to step up and demonstrate the power of the movement. 

We talk about youth autonomy and youth empowerment and this summer we got to build camp entirely from scratch and fully take ownership over it in ways that we don’t usually get to in summers and so it especially felt like a time to advocate for youth autonomy.

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HDNA and Progressive Israel Network Support Van Hollen Amendment Preventing the Use of US Funding for Illegal Annexation

The following joint statement was issued by eight members of the Progressive Israel Network: Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, J Street, the New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism,and T’ruah:

As progressive organizations committed to supporting democracy and equality in Israel and a just and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, we have made clear our staunch opposition to any unilateral Israeli annexation of occupied territory in the West Bank. Such a move would violate international law and severely imperil Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people. It would aim to permanently relegate the Palestinians to life in disconnected enclaves without independent statehood or basic civil rights. 

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Ma’apilimot Seminar 2020

Ma’apilimot Seminar is a time for ma’apilimot from all the machanot to gather before the summer to make plans and learn together. This year, Ma’apilimot Seminar will be an online event as we continue to prioritize safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Peulot will take place between Friday, May 22 and Sunday, May 24. 

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