HDCA Newsletter – September 2023

Wishing our HDCA family a meaningful, healthy and prosperous 5784!

As we mark the end of one Jewish year and look forward to the upcoming new year, we also mark the transition to a new Mazkirut Artzit. Before we move on, we want to express our warmest appreciation for the outgoing mazkirut. Working with Ben, Erica, Tamar and Kaela has truly been a pleasure. We are very grateful for their dedication and hard work for the movement and know that they are leaving HDNA in a strong position to continue to grow and have impact.  Todah rabah! We will miss working with you!

And now… introducing Mazkirut Artzit 2023-2024

Joining Zandra Campbell, Rakazol Chinuch, on Mazkirut Artzit are:

Judah Altman, Mazkirol 

Hi, my name is Judah and I am the new Mazkirol of HDNA. I was born in Chicago but grew up in Calgary, and moved to Rhode Island when I was 15. I started going to the ken in Calgary when I was 1o, and attended my first summer at Camp Miriam when I was 13. I returned as a chanich through Madatz in 2017. I was a madrich at Miriam the next summer, went on Workshop 68, and returned to work at both Miriam and Moshava in 2019. In 2021, I was a Madatz madrichol at Miriam for Kvutzah 72, in 2022 I was chinuch at Miriam, and this past summer I was a madrichol on MBI. In the movement outside of machaneh, I attended Veida 2019 and was on tzevet for Veida 2022, I’ve been to and have run numerous online seminars, I was a part of my Shlav bet process, I was one of the initial members of the Zionism va’ad and I have been a madrichol for 72 throughout my time in university, culminating this past year in being their shana madrich. The movement has played a big role throughout my life to this point, and I can’t wait to keep on shaping it.

Outside of the movement, I love to read and learn more than anything and my last four years in University have played a major role in my growth and interests. After I went on Workshop, I flew off to France to study at Sciences Po for two years as part of a dual bachelor’s degree program that Columbia University runs. At Sciences Po I studied sociology with a concentration in economics. After my two years at Sciences Po, I moved to New York for two years where I majored in philosophy and concentrated in sociology at Columbia University. In philosophy, my interests are Marxism, critical theory and phenomenology/existentialism, while in sociology my interests are gender, poverty, and network theory. I wrote two theses: one on Sartre’s Marxism in the Critique of Dialectical Reason and his methodology expounded in Search for a Method and the second on gendered discourses in an archive of letters written by people in poverty in the United States using semantic networks to show how gender and poverty construct each other. I am excited to continue learning and teaching in the movement, and bringing my knowledge to Habonim Dror.

I am excited to begin my time as Mazkirol of Habonim Dror North America. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, ideas you have, partnerships you envision, or if you just want to talk about the movement. You can reach me at mazkir@habonimdror.org. Aleh V’hagshem.


Zev Dever, Central Shaliach

Hi everyone! My name is Zev, and I’m excited and honored to step into the role of the Central Shaliach to Habonim Dror North America!

A little background about myself and my Habonim credentials: I was born in Tucson Arizona, and from the age of 11 grew up in Westchester New York which is where I first encountered Habonim Dror. I only really joined the movement at the age of 16 on MBI, and from then on fell in love with being a madrich, and generally with the world of Jewish informal education. After workshop (58) I worked for many years as a madrich at Gilboa, and during the year as a Hebrew school teacher, informal educator and childcare worker in several capacities. In 2011 I moved to Los Angeles to work year round for the movement where I worked in the eizor and in directing the then burgeoning outreach program for 3 years until making Aliyah with members of my kvutsah in 2014.

In Israel for the past 9 years, apart from a brief stint in Ulpan, and later in the IDF, I continued working in various educational and cooperative frameworks. In all of these years I lived in a co-operative Urban Educators kibbutz at first in Haifa, and then in Jerusalem with Dror Israel with graduates of Habonim and HaNoar HaOved. Throughout this time I continued to lead various Habonim Programs, including MBI and Workshop, as well as programs from other Habonim countries.

Then for 4 years I moved into working more directly with Israeli society, and served as a regional coordinator at the Informal Educational Center “the Meorer” specializing in bringing informal education to formal frameworks in Israel, including public schools, police and army Units. In the Meorer I oversaw the development and execution of educational programs centering around social justice, tolerance and interracial encounter groups, sensitivity training, and tours focused on societal and moral dilemmas in Israel today, and eventually spearheaded their new English department.

For the past 2 years I have come back to working in the movement in Habonim Dror Olami as the Shnat Rakaz for English speaking southern hemisphere kvutsot. Returning to educational work in Habonim Dror has been fulfilling for me and has reaffirmed the values upon which I see many of my life choices as having been built. I see great importance in the unique type of youth leadership in Habonim, and see our movement as essential to creating a future Jewish leadership that knows how to advocate for social justice and work towards a positive vision of an Israel, and a world in general that has the equality of human value as its central guiding principal.








HDCA Newsletter – July 2023


Ma Rabu and Magic at Mosh

by Rachael Feldman, Community Engagement Coordinator at Camp Moshava

We are nearing the end of our 4th week of Mosh – and what a summer it has already been!

Our mazkirut chose Ma Rabu (how great), as our summer theme. As our Rosh Mosh, Eliza Roth, explains, “it is amazing for us all to be here together. At Mosh, we notice and wonder with amazement at the incredible joy and love that exists here.”

Our first session began on June 23rd. In just a few short weeks, we have seen our camp community translate Mosh magic into connection, creativity, and kahilah in amazing ways. Our chanichimot share the avodah of caring for camp and each other by cleaning the shirutim (with cheers!), toranut after meals, and collecting and chopping wood for our weekly medurah. They have supported each other as Bogrimot-Amelimot and Bonimot-Nitznimot buddies. Campers have discovered new relevance of their Judaism through rikkud and other Shabbat celebrations.

Older campers have demonstrated impressive leadership skills, and have fulfilled experiences they have been waiting years for, like Bozman. The theme this year was Circus – and it really was! Campers were transported to The Bozo Circus, before being split into groups for a round robin of activities. They threw water balloons at the clowns; completed a short obstacle course made of hula hoops and mattresses; danced across the basketball court, learned a song about the day to the tune of Britney Spears’ “Circus;” ate pudding to clean up “animal poop;” and played the classic circus game, Balloon Pop. As Go Orringer, one of our fabulous Bogrimot, describes, “when I was younger, I always looked forward to the day I would run Bozman. Now that I have, I can say it 100% lived up to expectations.”A perennial summer highlight is tiyul, when our already de-screened chanichimot truly get back to nature. They headed to a clearing in the forest on our campgrounds, pitched their own tents (with oversight and help from the tzevet), and settled in for two days outdoorsy fun. Activities in the wild include chopping wood for the campfire; kneading, shaping, and cooking pita; hiking; swimming in Deer Creek; yoga and journaling; and connecting with nature, with each other, and with themselves.

Our first Special Day of the summer focused on labor organization and unionization, through the lens of our campers’ favorite movie character – a hat tip to the Writers’ Guild and, now, SAG-AFTRA strikes. As Dove Begleiter, our Communications Specialist shares, “chanichimot were woken this morning by Spider-Man and Yoda, and gathered after breakfast to explore Habowood, our own version of Hollywood. Some of their favorite characters joined them, and they had a great time playing games all together. But after experiencing the realities in the writers’ room that made these stories possible, the chanichimot decided to form a union and seek better working conditions. They learned about picket lines, collective action, and the challenges that workers face when forming unions. Through self-selected activities, campers were able to discuss the writers’ strike, teachers’ strikes in Israel, the Amazon labor union, and graduate student strikes across the US.”

As our first camp session comes to an end, we are confident our campers have made memories together that will sustain them until they return in Summer 2024. Our tzevet have created innovative activities for second session. When our new campers pull into Mosh on July 24th, more magic awaits!

All About Chuggim (Electives) at Camp Gilboa

from the Gilboa Blog

The main choice block of the day is called chuggim (electives), where kids pick one chug (elective) to attend for the entire session. This is an excellent time for chanichimot (campers) to get to know kids in different age groups while connecting over a shared interest! Our madrichimot (counselors) always go above and beyond in creativity to provide chanichimot (campers) with fresh and fun options each session.

Here are this session’s chuggim:

  • Chug Sensory: An exploratory adventure journeying through the senses !
  • Noah’s Art: Chanichimot create art with objects found in nature! Pinecones and rocks…the natural world around us makes for an excellent canvas 🙂
  • Chug Copy Cat: This crew ‘copycats’ every other chug by each day pretending to be a different chug! They get a little taste of everything.
  • Aussie: The Australian madrichimot (counselors) show chanichimot all of the best food, sights, phrases, and animals from Australia.
  • Origins: How did the world begin?! Chanichimot explore this question and more…like how did Gilboa start? How does anything originate?!
  • 2 Hot 2 Handle: An elective that explores activities having to do with temperature. Think: trying new hot sauce, cold plunges, and more.
  • Top Gun: A chug dedicated to recreating the classic film Top Gun with chanichimot!
  • Travel to Buratia: This group of witches travels through Russia on an epic adventure!

Protesting Israel’s Judicial Reform at Camp Galil

Like protesters in Israel and around the world, Galil chanichimot took to the “streets” to protest the Israeli government’s reforms.

MBI 2023

by Ben Markbreiter, Rakazol Tochniot

MBI 2023 is taking place from June 29 to July 27. There are 74 chanichimot from all 6 machanot attending MBI this summer. They started in the desert and moved their way up north, visiting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Galil, hitting the classic spots such as Masada, the Dead Sea, the Western Wall, and the Kinneret. They also had some unique experiences, like seeing a concert by Eurovision winner Netta, spending a day with Arab-Israeli teens from Hanoar Haoved, and including Israeli teens on the trip for a week. All the while, they had peulot every day regarding the current situation in Israel and their connection to the land as North American Jews.

Habonim Dror members advocate for progressive Zionism, against “judicial reform”

In April 2023 two members of the HDNA family – David Weiss, Executive Director of Camp Galil, and Alisa Belinkoff Katz, co-chair of HDCA – traveled to Jerusalem as delegates to the World Zionist Congress, known as “the parliament of the Jewish people.”  David and Alisa represented the HATIKVAH: Progressive Israel slate along with Leah Schwartz, a recent Olah (immigrant to Israel) and former HDNA Mazkirol, and with leaders from Ameinu and other progressive Zionist groups.

The Congress was a huge success for the cause of progressive Zionism!  We passed all of the resolutions proposed by the center-left coalition, including:

  • Opposition to Netanyahu’s “judicial reform”
  • Support for conversion to Judaism through all religious streams (not just Orthodox conversions)
  • A commitment to uphold the values of Israel’s Declaration of Independence – social and political equality for all of Israel’s citizens
  • Inclusion of LGBTQ+ and female voices in the activities of the World Zionist Organization; and
  • We also defeated right-wing resolutions, including one that sought to amend the Law of Return to exclude many in our community from Israeli citizenship.

During the Congress, we organized a march of 250 delegates to the Supreme Court building where we demonstrated against the judicial reform.  Here’s a photo from Ha’aretz depicting our group getting ready to march, with both Alisa and David clearly visible in the front row:


We were joined at the Supreme Court building by several HDNA Workshoppers and “Shnatties” from other countries, very identifiable in their HD chultzot (“Shnatties” are participants in year-long Israel programs, analogous to Workshop).  Leah Schwartz is visible on the far right:


Ha’aretz summed up the results of the Congress this way (5/24/2023):  “The World Zionist Congress, in a powerful statement, voted [in May] against the religious-right agenda of Israel’s current government.  In effect, the so-called ‘parliament of the Jewish people’ declared that Diaspora Jews do not support key policies being promoted by the Jewish state, under the most right-wing and religious government in its history.”


Leading As My Authentic Self 

by Erica Kushner, HDNA Mazkirol 

We are so proud of Erica for writing this beautiful piece for the Women of Reform Judaism blog. Please click on the image below to read the entire article.

Kol hav






HDCA Newsletter – May 2023

Shalom Chevre,

As spring moves quickly towards summer and the countdown to the opening of our machanot is well underway, HDNA’s seminar season is coming to a close with ma’apilimot seminar. Over the course of several days 50 ma’apilimot from all of our machanot will gather at Camp Moshava to connect deeply with each other and with the movement, gain new leadership skills, grapple with important and sometimes difficult issues, and have fun. After “ma’ap sem” most will be heading to their respective machanot within just a few short weeks!

At HDCA we are also planning for our own seminars. First up, HDCA mifgash – the first in-person since 2019. We’ll be gathering at beautiful Machaneh Gilboa in Big Bear Lake, CA. This will be a wonderful opportunity for board leadership to get together and focus on issues that resonate with our camping movement, and its success will depend on the participation of each one of our machanot. Gilboa has graciously offered to host up to two representatives from each of the other machanot.  We encourage anyone who is interested in attending to reach out to your board chair. We look forward to all of your insights, concerns and ruach!

And finally, the planning for Kennes 2023 has begun. SAVE THE DATE! Kennes will be held from Friday October 20th to Sunday October 22nd at the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield, MA just before the JCamp 180 Conference. We look forward to seeing many of you there!

Chag Shavuot Sameach,

Alisa Belinkoff Katz and Sharon Waimberg


From Veida to Ma’apilimot Seminar…What Does it Mean for Ma’apilimot to Take Responsibility for the Movement?

by Zandra Campbell, Rakazol Chinuch, HDNA

Although Veida 2022 feels almost like ancient history at this point, we are excited to carry conversations that began at Veida on to Ma’apilimot Seminar. The theme of  Ma’apilimot Seminar, HDNA Runs on Demand, continues discussions which began at Veida about what it means for ma’apilimot to be responsible for the movement. It was clear at Veida that people want to be responsible for the movement but maybe don’t know how or haven’t internalized all the ways that they can shape HDNA. We hope the conversations at Ma’apilimot  Seminar will give them more concrete ways to be responsible. For example, we are spending a two hour peula block discussing the responsibility of ma’apilimot to actively grow the movement and recruit chanichimot to their machanot.

Veida will be a good lens through which ma’apilimot might relate to the concept of collective responsibility. It was clear that people really wanted the Veida to go well, and although people disagreed and debated, the communication was incredibly healthy. There was one moment that I especially loved, in which a nachshona brought an amendment to a proposal that wasn’t super related to the proposal itself and didn’t really add anything to the Veida. It was right before lunch, and everybody was hangry and wanted to be done with the proposal, but even so, people still really supported her to bring the amendment and were proud of her for having made herself vulnerable to the whole Veida. This moment felt like a really tangible difference in the culture of this Veida from the last one, and it was really incredible to see older ma’apilimot taking responsibility and supporting younger movement members.

Hopefully the participants of Ma’apilimot Seminar will understand that the seminar went well not only because of the Mazkirut Artzit’s hard work, but also because they themselves wanted it to succeed. When everyone takes responsibility for movement spaces, the movement becomes a better place for everyone. Another element of Veida that we wish to move forward is conversation around Zionism. At Veida, it became obvious that movement members no longer want to avoid talking about Israel, and it is vital now more than ever for movement members to be able to discuss and debate their responsibility to Israel. We are excited to be bringing programming not only about how the movement should relate to Zionism but also workshops run by shlichimot about various topics within Israeli society (forum kohelet, the histadrut, etc.) It feels exciting to be able to bring tangible Israel learning back to HDNA!

Our goals for Ma’apilimot Seminar are for ma’apilimot to feel inspired by the mission of the movement, and if we meet this goal, it will benefit the entire HDCA community.


West Coast Seminar

by Kaela Evenchick, Rakazol Tzmicha, HDNA

For the first time since 2018, Miriam and Gilboa came together for a West Coast Seminar! We had close to 30 teens from both camps join us in Vancouver, some meeting for the first time and some reconnecting after last summer’s MBI!


The seminar was planned and led by youth leaders from Gilboa and Miriam, and supported by Gal Icek, Miriam’s year-round shlicha, Yahli Livni from Gilboa, and myself (Kaela Evenchick), from Mazkirut Artzit. We are thankful to RootOne, a partner for HDNA’s summer Israel trip (MBI), for generously supporting the seminar. 

Highlights included a scavenger hunt at Granville Island, Havdallah and Kumzits at the beach, and a hike through Pacific Spirit Park. We of course also spent some time learning together, with a peula about socialism and another about the judicial reform and protests in Israel. We were also joined by a guest speaker from the British Columbia Federation of Labour (BDFED) who spoke about young workers rights and unions!

We are so excited to see this tradition coming back to the West Coast. Next year in LA!

HDCA Newsletter – April 2023

HDNA Joins Protests Over Judicial Reform in Israel

As the threats to democracy in Israel continue, HDNA maapilimot in North America, HDNA alumni in Israel and HDNA Workshop 72 chanichimot all came out to make their voices heard.


Erica Kushner, HDNA Mazkirol, spoke at protests in DC and NYC.

Reflection on How Israelis and Americans Protest

By Erica Kushner, Mazkirol HDNA and member of Garin Tzur 

Over the past four months, Jews all over the world have been watching Israel and the process of judicial reforms. We in HDNA have been no exception. Since attending my first protest in January in Israel, I have attended and spoken at protests in DC and NYC. As we are based in Philadelphia, we are working to get the Philly area movement members more involved in the weekly protests happening in our city. The Workshoppers have been attending some of the protests in Israel and gaining a lot of hands-on experience with Israeli democracy. Over the past two weeks, we have hosted online events for Maapilimot and Nachshonimot to learn about what has been going on and give them space to process with their peers. It has been an interesting experience, to be a part of these protests and I’ve been thinking about how activism looks in Israel as compared to in the US:

While my Mazkirut was on Seminar Yeud Emtza in Tel Aviv in January, we attended one of the first few protests in Tel Aviv. As someone who doesn’t speak Hebrew fluently, most of the speeches and signs were lost on me, but even beyond that, I didn’t understand how there could be so many people carrying an Israeli flag. It was a little shocking to me. I have never gone to a progressive American protest and seen American flags. In general, I have grown up associating a nation’s flag at a protest with a sign of more conservative nationalistic views about what a country should or shouldn’t be. Back in the US, I have since attended two more protests (and aim to start attending the weekly protests happening in Philly). Again, at both of these protests, Israeli flags swim above the crowd, waving as people speak about politicians who abuse their power, about occupation, and, of course, about the judicial reforms. I have continued to be surprised by what the flag represents to Israelis: a place of which they can make demands, a place they are willing to fight for, a place that they are unwilling to turn their back on.

In America, the left-wing social justice activism that surrounded me as I grew up is heavily based on fighting the system, taking down what exists, constantly questioning any and all leadership. Put simply, it is destructive activism. I believe that there are many things about America that are deeply, deeply flawed, things that cannot be changed from the outside and do need to be destroyed and built into something different.  However, in that work I so often feel that the vision is lacking, the connection to the place that you are doing this for is missing. Social justice in America commonly can be boiled down to “this nation is rotten to the core and there is nothing worth saving.” The leftwing of America doesn’t care about keeping the country. This is incredibly different from the messages I have seen coming out of Israel: that they are protesting because they care so deeply about their country, that they believe it can be better, that they will show up even when it seems things are only getting worse. This is what the Israeli flag symbolizes to me: a belief and conviction that you have the right to demand more of the land you call home, that the home of the Jewish people is not just a place to merely inhabit, but one that its people must continuously build. 

HDCA Newsletter – March 2023

Dear Habonim Dror Family,

Welcome to this edition of the HDCA newsletter. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our prior posts and that the information in the newsletter has given you a better understanding of what’s happening within the North American Habonim Dror world. We look forward to creating future posts, but with a slight change.

The feedback we’ve received indicates that while the newsletter provides interesting and informative articles, giving readers a better grasp on what’s going on within the movement, the sheer volume of articles in each post is overwhelming and as a result the newsletter isn’t always read.

And so – a change! Beginning with this issue you can expect shorter, more focused and more frequent posts. We hope this change works well for you and your community.  We welcome feedback on this change and invite you to reach out if there’s anything you’d like to learn about in future editions.

Aleh v’hagshem,

Alisa Belinkoff Katz and Sharon Waimberg – HDCA Co-Chairs


HDCA Kennes 2022

This past November, 40 board members, professional staff and maapilimot from all 6 Habonim Dror camps together with HDNA’s mazkirut artzit and the leaders of Habonim Dror Camp Association and Habonim Dror Foundation gathered at Pearlstone Conference Center in Reisterstown, MD for the first HDCA Kennes since 2019.

After so much time without face-to-face contact, Kennes provided our community a wonderful opportunity for sharing, brainstorming and learning. And we even had fun together in a beautiful setting.

The program began on Thursday November 17th with the Executive Directors of all 6 machanot, Erica Kushner, Mazkirol of HDNA, and Tamar Levi, HDNA shlicha. On Friday afternoon the rest of mazkirut artzit joined us for more important conversations as well as some fun making lip balms from essential oils and herbs grown at Pearlstone’s organic farm.




On Friday evening November 18th the remaining participants joined us for Shabbat dinner and after a round of ice breakers our program began.

Interspersed among the conversations, presentations and speakers we were able to enjoy the beautiful Pearlstone site and spend some time outdoors at their farm. We pulled carrots out of the ground, played with sheep and chickens and walked the beautiful grounds on what was a sunny but very windy and cold day.


To give you an idea of what we focused on, you’ll find our agenda below. We hope you are as excited as we are for the Habonim Dror family to  Move Forward Together!


Building Safe Environments with Drew Fidler, Director of the BBYO Center for Adolescent Wellness

  • Navigating boundaries, building relationships, and creating a safe camp


The HDNA Family Map

  • Understanding the organizations and groups within the HDNA/HDCA universe.

Through individual presentations participants learned about the various organizations comprising the HDNA “Family”

  • Habonim Dror North America Board
  • Tzevet Higui
  • Habonim Dror Foundation
  • Habonim Dror Olami
  • Habonim Dror Camp Association


HDNA within the North American Jewish camping world

  • We used to be unique in ways that much of the camping world has now caught up with (social justice, gender inclusivity, lgbtq+ inclusivity, experiential ed) – what makes us unique today?


HDNA Update

  • An update from the Mazkirut Artzit addressing Israel programs, finances, shlichut and movement retention.

After a presentation by Erica Kushner (HDNA Mazkirol) and Sue Aistrop  (HDNA Business Manager), kennes participants had the opportunity to cycle through stations and have small group conversations with mazkirut members about their tafkidim and programs.


Progressive Zionism with Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now

  • What does Progressive Zionism mean, where does it stand in North America and in Israel, what can we as Progressive Zionists hope to accomplish, and how do we educate towards Progressive Zionism in a way that is meaningful to Habonim Dror today.



Navigating the Partnership Between HDNA and the Machanot

  • We are all operating as HDNA, but what are our responsibilities to each other? We divided into 6 groups to focus on 6 topics and discuss our partnerships.

The topics we discussed were Year Round Programs, Israel Programs, Financial Relationship, Pillars and Ideology, Youth and Adult Leadership, Staffing and HR




Gender Inclusion

  • Exploring successes and challenges with gender inclusion at the machanot and how gender inclusion serves our values as a community.




At the end of Shabbat we were able to take advantage of the Pearlstone facility and head outside for havdallah and a medurah – s’mores included.  On Sunday morning we woke up to breakfast and a sikkum peulah, wrapping up Kennes and discussing next steps.