HDCA Newsletter – June 2024


Machaneh Galil and Gesher EDs Travel to Israel

In February of this year, David Weiss (Camp Galil ED) and Shoshana Lipschultz (Camp Gesher ED) participated in the Mission to Israel for Camp Directors sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC). Together with staff from FJC and colleagues in the Jewish camping community, they toured Kibbutz K’far Aza and the Nova Music Festival site, visited with Kfar Aza survivors at Kibbutz Shefayim, and heard from a former summer shaliach about his experience at Nova. They had the opportunity to meet people working with evacuated youth, including at a surfing program at Camp Kimama, and to hear from the Jewish Agency about their plans for preparing this summer’s shlichimot. Additionally, they met with representatives from the Bedouin community, from the Israeli Arab community at Givat Haviva, and with representatives from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. Together, David and Shoshi also had an opportunity to meet with our Workshoppers, HeChalutz, Habonim Dror Olami and the World Zionist Organization.

We are very grateful for the Foundation for Jewish Camp for providing this opportunity to David and Shoshi.

David and Shoshi with Hechalutz leadership

Shoshi’s Reflection on the Israel trip (by Shoshi Lipschultz)

I want to share some personal highlights and thoughts about this incredible opportunity to learn with colleagues and experts in our field and to bear witness and hear testimony about the effects of October 7 on Israeli society. We spent time at the site of the Nova festival, and it was one of the most profound moments of Jewish unity I have ever experienced. The site of the Nova festival has turned into a memorial with photos of the individuals that were lost that day, as well as their stories, their artwork, and other meaningful objects. As we walked through, people were quietly learning, observing, mourning, and doing so as individuals. A gentleman entered the memorial with a violin, and he began to play. At first people continued to mingle, then organically, everyone was drawn to the man playing his violin. People got closer and closer. The music was traditional Jewish music that by and large everyone knows, such as Oseh Shalom, Eli Eli, and finally Hatikvah. What began as an individual experience, became truly a communal experience with the lift and life of music. It was a profound reminder of our interconnectedness, and the strength and resiliency of the Jewish Community.

I want to share my deep gratitude to the community of Kfar Aza. I recognize that I do have  some personal bias as the Brodutch family is from Kfar Aza. As you may know, their daughter was a camper with us last summer and was taken hostage on October 7. One thing that stood out to me on that day, was just how long it took to fully understand what happened and to respectfully clean up. There was spray paint outside the houses that indicated when the army came in, when homes were cleared from additional traps meant to cause more harm, and finally when remains were cleared. The dates went into late November, showing just how long the process was and how slowly the extreme details were to come out and are still coming out.

I also found myself in awe of the strength of the Kfar Aza community. The choice that this community has taken – to open up their Kibbutz to be a living museum so that people from all over the world can see the violence and destruction that took place there, is extremely difficult and complicated. This has not been an easy choice for them. They have chosen to value global education over privacy and they continue to make that choice with each passing month.

This choice is something that we discussed as camp directors while sharing ideas, thoughts, and plans for our summers. How will we care for our shlichim and Israeli campers this summer? Do we need to make changes to our programming? Does the value of building an inclusive community supercede the value of free speech such as when certain voices in our community may voice “Free Palestine” or “Ceasefire now” which can be triggering to some of our campers and staff or for our Israeli visitors this year?

These conversations remain ongoing and yet, one thing has become crystal clear for me. Our goals, to create the next generation of Jewish leaders, to create an intentional Jewish community, and to foster a nuanced understanding of Israel that starts with Ahavat Yisrael – a love of Israel, can not be defined by October 7. This summer, 2024, as we continue to build bridges, to foster respectful dialogue, and engage in our ever important work, we must also remember and create the joy of summer, of Jewish peoplehood and Ahavat Yisrael

Resetting The Table by Judah Altman, Mazkirol  

At the end of May, the leadership of all the machanot this summer gathered together for a Resetting the Table training. Resetting the Table is a Jewish non-profit that runs trainings around dialogue through difference courses. Their stated aim is  “Corageous Communication Across Divides.”

As a cohort, Habonim Dror participated in a two-day training that first set the groundwork for how to listen and engage in dialogue with people with whom you disagree, and then on the second day, delved into the specific case study of discourse around Israel and Palestine. The training focused on what to listen for, how to ask questions, and how to ensure that the person you are listening to feels heard and understood. It was an important training for Habonim Dror this summer knowing that discourse around Israel and Palestine is especially divisive this year and it is each Mazkirut’s job to manage that among tzevet, chanichimot, parents and stakeholders.

Habonim Dror would like to thank Machaneh Gilboa for making this opportunity possible. We know that all of the Mazkiriyot are better prepared and trained to lead their machanot this summer in healthy and happy ways.

Maapilimot Seminar by Zandra Campbell, Rakazol Chinuch

A couple of weeks ago, we wrapped up our ma’apilimot seminar! From May 23 to 27, over 50 college-aged movement members gathered together (our biggest ma’ap sem since pre-COVID!!) at Habonim Dror Machaneh Moshava to learn and play together. Ma’apilimot learned about the history of the Gaza strip and the ongoing humanitarian crisis taking place there, shared their experiences of the anti-semitism that has impacted us over the last year, and discussed how HDNA can be a source of resilience as we navigate this painful moment in Jewish history. We even started thinking about new projects that we can build as a movement in the coming years!

As a ma’apilimot body, we laughed, we cried, we played, we danced, we asked questions and brought dilemmas, old and new. This space was such a healing space, and the ma’apilimot of HDNA proved that it is possible to have difficult conversations and disagree deeply with one another from a place of love, care, and shivyon erech ha’adam. This ability represents a step towards the Jewish value of tikkun olam in a profound way.

As always, we are so inspired by the youth, and we have so much faith in our ma’apilimot to lead their chanichimot this summer and into the future ♥️💙

Workshop 73 by Judah Altman, Mazkirol

On May 20th, Workshop 73 came to a close. While it was a very turbulent year, the Workshoppers showed resilience and unity as a kvutzah throughout the entire year, and Habonim Dror is extremely lucky to have them as a part of the movement. In the last few months of Workshop, the Workshoppers lived together in Haifa, working in the ken with their sister movement HaNoar HaOved VeHalomed. During their time in the ken, the Workshoppes ran after school programming and taught English in school. Interspersed within this, the Workshoppers had many seminars to attend that were both regularly scheduled programming, and seminars that had been delayed due to the war. These included: History of Habonim Dror seminar, Habonim Dror Olami world seminar, and Jerusalem Seminar. During Jerusalem Seminar, the Workshoppers moved to Jerusalem to engage in hands-on education on the conflict, shared existence, and life in Jerusalem. Additionally, in March, the Workshoppers travelled to Poland. While the year was a difficult one, filled with ups and downs due to the war and tragic incidents, they emerged stronger together and now are all heading to machaneh to lead their respective communities.

Meet Brian Tucker – Camp Miriam’s new Camp Committee Chair.

Brian hails from Eastern Canada where he and his older siblings attended Machaneh Gesher.  He began going to camp at a very young age and eventually was a member of the first Madatz (counselors-in-training progam) at Gesher, and of the first Machaneh Bonim in Israel cohort (MBI-Aleph).  Some years ago  he moved to Vancouver and after quitting his job, “checked in” with Miriam and was hired on as the Business Manager.  He was later hired as “Camp Manager,” a role which required him to stay at Machaneh throughout the summer to provide adult leadership together with the shlichim.  He recently signed on as Camp Committee Chair in which role he is responsible for the overall direction of Camp Miriam.

Brian lives in Victoria, British Columbia.  In his professional life, he is a Co-op Coordinator at the University of Victoria, helping UVic Science students to find meaningful work experiences related to their degrees.  Although his children currently do not attend camp, Brian’s niece Ayana is currently a member of Miriam’s Madatz cohort.

As Camp Committee Chair, Brian says he “hopes our capital campaign is successful, and we are able to expand the capacity of machaneh and improve upon our existing facilities.”  He notes that the events of October 7th have “added complexity and different voices” to the conversation at Machaneh Miriam.

Brian and the Miriam Camp Committee are assisted by professionals Leya Robinson, Director of Camp and Community Engagement, Anya Levi, Manager of Finance and Administration, and Jay Eidelman, who was recently hired to serve as Director of Strategic Planning and Fundraising.  New Shaliach (Israel emissary) Aviad Levi Yair and not-quite-former Registrar Leah Levi round out the team.

Baruch haba, Brian!

Meet Mira Sussman – Machaneh Tavor’s new Board Chair. 

Mira is a third-generation Habonim member and lifelong Tavornik.  Her children now attend Machaneh and she has served on Tavor’s board for many years.  Mira had intended to step down from the board when her most recent term was up, but agreed to take on the Board Chair responsibility to ensure the continuation of strong adult leadership for Habonim Dror Camp Tavor.

In this role, Mira is working closely with Executive Director Danya Shapiro to steer Tavor through the headwinds of the current political situation in Israel/Palestine and on American college campuses.  She notes that Tavor will welcome three summer shlichimot this year as tzevet members.  With many diverse opinions among the tzevet, board and chanichimot, Mira hopes to ensure that Tavor remains a welcoming environment for all.

One of the issues that Mira is tackling is a lack of parent/community presence at camp.  She notes that in the wake of COVID, Tavor hasn’t held a Visitors Day for many years.  So, in late May the entire community was welcomed to Camp Tavor’s inaugural Spring Open House/Visitors Day.  As Tavor’s newsletter noted, “the event was filled with unforgettable moments as everyone came together to create stepping stones in the beit-o (art room), canoe on Lake Kaiser, and share meals around the campgrounds. The joy was contagious, especially when we danced rikkud (Israeli folk dancing) under the mitrya (pavilion).”

Mira is also intent on revitalizing Tavor’s kenim that meet in the cities where chaverimot live (primarily Ann Arbor and Chicago).

B’hatzlacha, Mira!

Habonim Dror Machanot in the News

The North American Jewish community has been very focused on the challenges and difficulties that may arise at Jewish summer camps this year. Here are just two of the articles highlighting our machanot:

In this article in Haaretz  Rosh Machaneh Isaiah Beenhouwer and Chinuch Ari Moore of Machaneh Gilboa talk about how Gilboa is preparing for “…conversations that have been and will be incredibly difficult.”

Haaretz: “…How U.S. Jewish Summer Camps are Preparing for a Year Like No Other”

And in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent the question is “How Are Jewish Camps Responding to Oct. 7?”  Machaneh Galil’s Executive Director David Weiss discusses their approach this year.

Habonim Dror Alumni to Visit Israel Together 🇮🇱

A Habonim Dror alumni solidarity trip to Israel is being planned for mid-September 2024.

Stay tuned for details shortly! 

HDCA Newsletter – February 2024

HDNA Updates – by Judah Altman, Mazkirol HDNA


We are excited to share that Habonim Dror North America has received a grant from SRE Network (Safety, Respect, Equity)! SRE Network’s competitive Fall 2023 Open Grants cycle provides grantees with access to funding and expert practitioners to help them to build on their existing efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination and support healthy, thriving workplaces and communal spaces. By being an SRE Network grantee, we are committing to investing our staff time to advance our work to create safer, more respectful, and equitable workplaces and communal spaces.  Over the course of two-years, HDNA will create an internal network of anti-racist trainers in partnership with Yehudah Webster of “The Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project” (IOWA) and former Habonim Dror member Maya Hawkins in order to implement anti-racist trainings and policies.


All of the Workshoppers are back in Israel and living in a bayit in Haifa. They are beginning to work in HaNoar HaOved VeHalomed kenim as well as preparing for their trip to Poland. It has been a dynamic time for the Workshoppers. In November, some of the chanichimot went to Manchester to distance themselves from the war where they lived in a bayit together and continued peulot on Jewish history as well as engaged in the Jewish community in Britain. Meanwhile, the Workshoppers still in Israel continued their regular education, while also volunteering with displaced families and children, and helping out in the agricultural sector on Kibbutz Ravid. In December, all of the Workshoppers went to South Africa to work at the Habonim Dror South Africa Machaneh. Now they have resumed programing as normal in Israel and are beginning their own journeys as educators in Israeli society.

In addition to programmatic changes, it has been a sad month for the Workshoppers as well. Workshop 73 madricha Rebecca Baruch passed away in the early morning of the 21st of January 2024 following a short illness. Originally from Habonim Netherlands, Rebecca made aliyah several years ago. She was a true Magshima of the movement, embodying its values in her everyday life. Rebecca was a wonderful madricha who led her chanichimot with strength and compassion. We are sure that the connection she forged with our workshoppers will continue to inspire them in their movement journeys. We send our love to Rebecca’s family, Habonim Netherlands, the worldwide Habonim family, and all those who had the pleasure to know her.

Moving Toward a Shared Future – with the Progressive Israel Network

On Tuesday January 30th, member organizations of the Progressive Israel Network hosted an online convening titled “Moving Toward a Shared Future.” The program centered around what comes next for Israelis and Palestinians, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Following the panels, attendees split into moderated break-out rooms for discussion. Over 2,100 signed up to attend or receive the recording, with over 1,000 joining live, representing a diverse patchwork of generations, denominations, and regions across the United States. Habonim Dror played a major role in mobilizing and planning this PIN program by bringing the youth movement perspective through the personal discussions at the end. This event demonstrated a clear need and a widely shared desire to continue this conversation, both within our network and organizations and beyond. Here is the link to the recording of the Convening.

Moetzet Mazkirut

This past weekend, the HDNA Mazkirut Artzit ran Moetzet Mazkirut for all of the Machanot Mazkirut for the upcoming summer. They are all busy preparing an amazing summer and I am so excited for all of the energy and ideas that they are bringing. Here are some educational highlights of the seminar:

  • We talked about creating meaningful space and dialogue for Israel and Palestine education that meets the positionality of all chanichimot and tzevet members this summer.
  • We learned about concrete skills to lead the machanot.
  • We met by tafkid to share resources across machanot.
  • We talked about what it means to lead machaneh and the value of youth leadership.
  • The Mazkirut met by machaneh to plan the summer together in person (for many, this was the first in-person meeting since hiring).

The wonderful Rashim who will be leading each machaneh are: Julia Robinson, Machaneh Galil; Amanda McCarthy and Meytal Kosower, Machaneh Gesher; Isaiah Beenhouwer, Machaneh Gilboa; Ariella Smith-Eidelman, Machaneh Miriam; Nathan Maya, Machaneh Moshava; Deena Eichhorn, Machaneh Tavor.

We are truly looking forward to this summer and I cannot wait to see it come to fruition!

Movement Seminars – by Zandra Campbell,  Rakazol Chinuch HDNA

This past winter, we made the difficult decision to cancel winter seminar due to low registration. Despite this initial disappointment, we still believed in the importance of ma’apilimot meeting each other this winter and took steps to ensure that any ma’apilol who wanted a movement space could have one. In the end, this took the shape of 5 parallel seminars. The first was Seminar Chazon, an in-person leadership seminar for those who would have been on tzevet for Winter Seminar, rashim, and older ma’apilimot who reached out looking for a movement space. The second was Yom Lemida, an online day of learning for any nachshon (high schooler) or ma’apilol in the movement. This seminar was run by the participants of seminar chazon. We also held kvutza seminars for 71 and 72 in New York and Montreal respectively, during which the kvutzot set goals around how they want to relate to themselves and the movement. Finally, we offered the opportunity for our ma’apilimot to go to Israel on a solidarity and resilience delegation with the Hakhel network of Jewish Intentional communities. On the delegation we volunteered in agriculture, met displaced communities in Israel, both Jewish and Arab, and had many enlightening encounters with civil society leaders, activists, and people affected by the ongoing war.

Here are some reflections from seminar participants: 

Jenny Sherman, Seminar Chazon Participant

“Going into the seminar, I felt nervous. I assumed the other seminar-goers had different viewpoints than me, and I felt nervous to hear things that might have held different ideological sentiments than I held. I hadn’t been to a seminar in a long time and I felt so confused and so not firm in my own opinions on what was happening in Israel. I felt anxious; the anxiety I’ve been experiencing from disagreement with my friends and family has become a more perpetual state born from the war in Israel and Palestine.

My expectations were blown away by the reality of the seminar. I left feeling finally more clear on some of the entangled, lurking, screaming questions that had been drowning my mind for the past 3 months. I felt like I had tangible information for once; on history and the past, on the ideology of different groups, on the definitions of key terms. I felt more grounded in what was real and what was not real. I felt more grounded in what I wanted. 

…as Jews, what history has shown us, and what the movement has shown us as well, is that there is power in caring; about the world, about what is right, and what we want for the future. It’s what makes our people stronger – kvetching and kvelling – and it’s a part of our history. It has come to be a defining factor of my Jewish community (because of what the movement has shown me) and it’s something I want in the Jewish communities I enter into. I hope movement members can not only see this as an option but yearn for it as an extension and celebration of what it means to be Jewish, now and eternally.” 

Daniel Gonclaves, participant of 72 seminar

“This seminar in Montreal was absolutely lovely. I met so many amazing people and had the privilege of participating in wonderful peulot run for us by Erica and Judah. We learned about each other and the world around us. One memory stands out to me. After our last peula, we got out a ball of string and passed it around. Each person held onto their part and told the group how they would try to stay in touch with the rest of us. We all responded, It’s possible! By the end, after the last person received the string, we all stopped to marvel at the web of purple string connecting us all. This was kvutza. This was my kvutza.” 

Jonah Greenhut, participant of 71 seminar 

“The seminar had all the classics of a good Habo Dror experience: peulot, chevrati, sichot, and good food. The biggest idea that was introduced was that of the inner point. The point that ties us all together. Each person in the kvutza is a line connected to the inner point you can be different distances from the middle, or you could have different strengths tying you to it, but the idea is the central point is what keeps something going. It became clear during the seminar that the central point for 71 had become uncertain. Now in 2024, it came time to renew the center. To renew what it means to be in a process. To renew what it means to approve and demand of each other. To renew 71 so it is not longer seen as a dying entity but lives with a beating heart. This renewal will not be easy, and will not look like our kvutza did in the past, but this renewal, this finding of our center will be a new Beresheet, a new beginning, that I look forward to dreaming and building.” 


Habonim Bogrim & Ha’Noar Ha’Oved (& Dror Israel) Mobilizing Since the War, by Zev Dever, HDNA Shlichol

Since the early days of the war in Israel, Israeli society faced a large trauma accompanied by hundreds of thousands of people finding themselves displaced, and even more called up to reserves. Amongst other factors these greatly shook the foundations of societies’ normal functioning, and so our graduate and sister movements in Israel quickly mobilized to try and take responsibility for some of the unfolding dilemmas facing Israel.

Since very early on Dror Israel set up schools and youth groups to take responsibility for displaced communities, operating frameworks ranging from day care to full elementary and secondary schools, and this has continued to be the largest enterprise the movement has undertaken. Some operate in hotels where the population of destroyed Kibbutzim are until today temporarily sheltering in Eilat and the Dead Sea region, as well as the center, and some in existing movement schools. Pictured here is Yelena Adelman, former HDNA Mazkirut Artzit member and Bogeret Camp Tavor, an experienced educator in Israeli society, who for the past month has been establishing and running a school on Kibbutz Ginnosar for displaced children evacuated from the north.

The movement has organized many educational frameworks to relieve the needs of a society at war. NOAL has also set up youth group chapters in hotels to offer Ken activities to children who cannot return home. Today the Ken “Sderot” displaced in three locations is the largest active ken in HaNoar HaOved serving around a thousand chanichimot with activities multiple times a week. 

When schools were shut down the movement established and ran day care facilities for medical workers as it had previously done during the Covid Pandemic in areas under threat. There is also an effort to offer general Ken activities in shelters in communities at risk of rocket attack.Sivan Bamberger, Mosh Alumna shares this photo from kabbalat shabbat activities that she went to with her son at the Ken of Hanoar HaOved VeHalomed in a local bomb shelter in Rehovot. The movement has also mobilized to take care of people’s physical needs, offering both shelter and supplies where necessary and possible. 

Adina Teibloom is organizing the Dror Israel effort in Mitzpeh Ramon to care for displaced families from the area surrounding Gaza. They’ve used their boarding school (which was on break when the fighting started) to host 22 people from the area and are hosting 48 other families from Kibbutz Erez at another location in Mitzpeh Ramon. 




There are hardly communities not affected by the war, and there are likewise hardly kenim or chapters of the movement that have not desired to mobilize in some way to contribute to society at this time. Some volunteer with elderly or particularly at risk members of society who tend to suffer more in times of crisis. 

Leah Silverberg (Gesher 56) is in Tel Aviv, working from home helping Holocaust survivors in Rishon Letziyon and Tel Aviv. She’s calling to make sure they aren’t alone, trying to take care of their emotional and physical needs like food and medication. The current situation is bringing up a lot of past trauma for them.




Toviah Botwinick (Galil 63) is volunteering in Haifa. He explains that in the Hadar neighborhood there are communities of Eritrean refugees and their children, living in poor conditions. He is part of efforts to help them get access to shelters and run afternoon activities for the kids.

Leah Schwartz, (Mosh 64) has been working with the teenage chanichimot of Ken Pardes Hana to collect food and hygiene products to donate to soldiers.

Ziv Bar-El (Gilboa 61) has been traveling to Ravid in the mornings to volunteer on the Dror Educational Orchards, where half of the tzevet is serving in miluim (reserve duty). General agriculture as well as other fields of industry have been greatly affected and have had need of volunteers.

Marina Levy (Miriam 65) continues to manage Kibbutz Ravid’s orchards, largely stepping in as the interim manager as well as organizing many volunteering groups.

Movement members are also involved in attempting to preserve the delicate fabric of shared society in Israel, working on answering community needs of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel in mixed cities and towns. As Adam Levy (Miriam 56) explains: “We are setting up a system of how to take care of Akko during war. First we cleaned and made sure all the bomb shelters were ready, now we’re doing community work to create a leadership team in each neighborhood in times of war, And helping people who don’t have work because of the war, and trying to make sure people don’t riot,  Gabe Fruend and I are leading it.” 

As Margot Levy (current HDNA member) noted during our resilience and solidarity mission visiting another Mixed city of Nazareth the Urban Kibbutz Mishol located there had been working in a similar vein.  “For example, as part of a project they started, every night 2 Jewish-Israelis and 2 Palestinians drive around the city together, speaking with people about their feelings and experiences. Additionally, if anyone has been a victim of an act of violence, they visit them in the hospital together.”

Adam and Gabe are also the heads of HeChalutz the organization of Habonim Bogrim in Israel living in Urban intentional communities. 

If you would like to see more, or get involved to help, check out also Dror Israel’s english webpage

If you would like to invite someone from the movement in Hechalutz to give a talk either in person or online in your local community please feel free to reach out to Zev Dever our central shaliach at Shaliach@habonimdror.org


Introducing Rebecca Green – Executive Director, Machaneh Gilboa

Camp Gilboa’s new Executive Director, Rebecca Green, came to Habonim Dror via Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, where she served as a National Organizer working with the California chapters on issues such as immigration justice, housing justice, and criminal justice reform. While at Bend the Arc she worked alongside Gilboa’s staff and Tzedek youth on several advocacy campaigns, including an effort to eliminate cash bail in California.  “I was so impressed and inspired by the powerful young people in this community!” she wrote.  When the job of Executive Director at Gilboa opened up, she was immediately interested.

While Rebecca does not have a strong summer camp or a Habonim background (although her father attended Habonim camp), she has extensive experience in youth education and social justice movements.  In addition to Bend the Arc, she taught social studies in New York City public schools, where she established a Peer Mediation course to bring restorative justice practices to the school, and supported the peer mediators when they led a walk-out to demand action against gun violence.  During her college years, she volunteered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina with UC Berkeley Hillel,  attended the Birthright program in Israel, and was active in affordable education organizing.  

Rebecca joined Gilboa’s staff in spring 2023 and spent the summer learning the ropes with the help and guidance of outgoing E.D. Elana Bloomfield.  She continues to explore the ins and outs of the movement with a lot of help from her fellow Habonim Dror E.D.s. Rebecca reports that attending Kennes 2023, the JCamp 180 conference, and the American Camp Association’s Spring Leadership Conference was also helpful.  She even made flashcards to learn camp Hebrew!

On top of this difficult camp learning curve came October 7th.  “The Gilboa community has such a spectrum of opinions,” she says.  “It’s been a challenge to figure out how to respond.  My goal is to keep the community together as much as possible at this moment, to make sure people feel safe – that they belong.  To find a way that we can recognize our shared values, though not necessarily the same beliefs – and hold together as one community.”   

Welcome Rebecca – b’hatzlacha!


Introducing Abby Cohen, Co-Executive Director, Camp Moshava

Abby Cohen is a familiar face at Habonim Dror Camp Moshava who was appointed Co-Executive Director (alongside Talia Rodwin) last fall.

While she did not grow up in Habonim Dror, Abby met her husband Ezra, a Mosh alum, at the University of Michigan when he had just returned from Workshop in 1993. “It sounded so strange to me, because I had gone to a more traditional camp,” she says, but upon the couple’s move to Maryland in 2007 she found herself enjoying a circle of friends connected to Mosh, including then-Executive Director Jen Braveman.  In 2013 she found herself looking for a job at the same time Jen was looking for a new Registrar – and a shidduch was made.  

Abby has worked steadily at Mosh since then, with the exception of a one-year break in 2022.  Her complete new title is Co-Executive Director for Development and Engagement, which means she leads Mosh’s camper recruitment and retention, fundraising, family and alumni engagement, and community relations efforts.  Her goal is to professionalize Mosh’s fund-raising work, reconnect alumni to camp, and help position Mosh to become financially secure.  She notes that the camp recently completed a Strategic Plan and that funding will be required to construct many new capital improvements.  As a person who did not grow up in Habonim, she sees her role in “Engagement” as getting to know the new families and helping them to make a connection with Mosh and with the broader movement.

Abby’s three children are all Moshnikim!  Her younger son Asher is going on MBI this summer while her older son, Will, was on Tzevet last summer..  Daughter Lilah  is currently on Workshop which Abby describes as “not the year her daughter envisioned but she is making the most of it.”

We asked Abby to describe the “magic of Mosh.”  She says, “I think Mosh is a place where kids feel comfortable being their true selves.  I think they’re inspired by the tzevet and they have fun.  I think kids like the people they are at camp – and eventually, their camp selves become their true selves.”

Well said, Abby, and kol ha’kavod, Abby, on your new position!

HDCA Newsletter – December 2023

HDCA Kennes 2023

At the end of October, 45 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 gathered in Springfield, MA for HDCA’s annual Kennes.  The timing was challenging, as planning a gathering such as this requires input from many constituencies and planning so close to the end of the summer was indeed difficult.

But the most challenging aspect of this Kennes was the tragedy that struck in Israel on October 7 and the ensuing war. Our Mazkirut Artzit was in Israel on that date and we were all affected by the trauma and grief and fear. We debated internally whether we should even hold Kennes. But, as happens at machaneh each summer, the flexibility and creativity and sensitivity of our movement members made for a moving and inspiring community experience.

For those of you who weren’t able to be there, here are some highlights of the program.  Perhaps next year, you’ll join us!

After Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner, we began our time together with an ice-breaker and then we heard stories, successes and challenges from each of our six machanot.







We then heard from our Central Shaliach, Zev Dever, about the work our sister movement in Israel is doing with the children of the evacuated communities.

We ended our evening’s programming with the opportunity to share and reflect on our emotions and feelings around events in Israel. We divided into two facilitated groups led by Judah Altman, Mazkirol HDNA and Guy Brenkel, Shaliach for Camp Galil.

In the ensuing days we heard informative and inspiring updates from HDNA’s Mazkirut Artzit, a message from Michael Hess, Mazkir of World Habonim Dror, and worked together on issues that connect us all.

Hot Topics Chugim

Kennes participants divided themselves by interest to discuss six important topics for HD Camps. On Saturday, each group considered their communities’ goals, successes, challenges and current realities with regard to their topics. On Sunday morning the groups reconvened and proposed next steps.

The topics we focused on were:

  • Youth leadership and professionalization
  • Fundraising
  • Tzevet retention
  • Chanichimot recruitment
  • Gender
  • HDCA

Board Development with Dalia Krusner and Natasha Dresner from JCamp 180

Board members worked with JCamp 180 experts to focus on governance challenges and next steps to help our individual organizations transition successfully into the future.




Improving Year-Round Programming with Zandra Campbell, HDNA Rakazol Chinuch

Maapilimot and professionals worked together on the challenge of improving our year-round programming. The focus of the conversation touched on:

          • goals of programming
  • content of programming
  • engagement/recruitment
  • growth of leadership and participation
  • empowerment/hadracha
  • kvutza building

To celebrate Havdallah we joined HDNA’s week of programming for a zoom Havdallah with the movement – another opportunity to viscerally feel how connected we all are to each other.


Introduction of the HDCA Organizations document to be used to onboard new board members and professional staff. This document lays out the different organizations that make up the Habonim Dror Camp Association. We believe it will be extremely useful for all of our separate organizations.



New Funds for the Movement: Sale of the Institute of Jewish Education Building in Los Angeles

The sale of a historic Labor Zionist headquarters building in Los Angeles has generated funds that will benefit HDNA and some of our partner organizations. We learned how various funds will be used and had the opportunity to give input on how we can utilize this new resource to benefit Habonim Dror camping.



SEE YOU IN 2024!


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