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.

HDCA Newsletter – September 2022



HDCA’s first post-pandemic Kennes (conference) is taking place November 18-20 at beautiful Pearlstone Conference Center near Baltimore, Maryland.  Camp board members, professional staff, ma’apilimot, Mazkirut Artzit, shlichimot and of course Habonim Dror Camp Association, Habonim Dror North America and Habonim Dror Foundation chairs will join to discuss important issues under the theme “Moving Forward Together.”  We are bringing in exciting outside speakers and we’ll hear reports on HDNA programs, finances, shlichut and more. There will also be plenty of time to get to know each other, hang out and enjoy Pearlstone’s beautiful farm, hiking trails and campfire pit!

REGISTRATION IS LIMITED – please sign up using  this form.  See you in November!

Mazkirut Artzit Update – 2022-2023

With the turnover of Mazkirut Artzit 5783, we are saying goodbye to Jenna Abrams, Razaket Chinuch for the past two years.

Jenna entered the Mazkirut Artzit during the height of Covid, when it was unsure what direction the Movement should take and many relationships were strained. Through her leadership and excellent communication skills, she was able to guide HDNA through this difficult time while repairing relationships with Maapilimot, HDCA Professionals, and many other people in the movement. Along with this, Jenna led many amazing seminars, including the movement’s first ever online Winter Seminar in December 2020.

Jenna played an incredibly instrumental role in the past two years of HDNA and we are so fortunate to have had her on Mazkirut Artzit and want to wish her the best of luck in all her future endeavors!


Zandra Campbell (she/they) has joined the Mazkirut Artzit as our Rakezet Chinuch.

Here are a few things that they think you should know about them:  

  1. I’m from New Jersey (best state no hate) 
  2. I started going to Galil in 2011 in Sayarimot, was Rosh Galil 2021, and was Rosh Mitbach of Galil this past summer. 
  3. I graduated from Princeton University in May of 2022 with a degree in English Literature
  4. My favorite author is Agatha Christie, and I could talk about how cool she is for hours (ask me about it) 
  5. I’m passionate about the ability of young people to change the world, and find the youth who staff the machanot all incredibly inspiring. 

You can reach Zandra over email at maapilim@habonimdror.org


Kaela Evenchick (she/her) has rejoined our tzevet in a new position of Rakezet Tzmicha (Director of Growth).

Here are a few things you should know about her:

I started going to Machaneh Miriam back in 2009 and have been coming back to Habonim Dror ever since! I joined the Mazkirut Artzit as the Rakezet Tochniot in fall 2020. After the completion of Workshop 71 in April 2022, I took some time off from the Mazkirut Artzit to visit my kvtuzah in Israel and my family in Canada. I was also lucky enough to make it to Gabriola Island and help out at camp a couple of times this summer.  

Now, I’m back in the newly developed tafkid of Rakezet Tzmicha (Director of Growth). As a part of this role, I will be taking on fundraising/alumni engagement, programs recruitment/registration, and partner organization liaising.

I’m so happy to be back in the HDNA office and am looking forward to 5783! I am also participating in a part-time Israel Education Masters’ program through the iCenter and George Washington University, which I hope will inform my work in the upcoming year. 

You can reach Kaela over email at tzmicha@habonimdror.org.

MBI 2022 – by Leora Leavey and Franny Plovan from Camp Moshava

Wow! MBI was such a blast – we can’t believe it has been over a month since we got back!

On our first night in Israel we were put into 4 kvutzot (groups). We quickly got to know each other through silly games, and after just a few days we were eating dinner with people who live 3,000 miles away. As we gradually got closer with one another, we shared songs and cheers we do at each of our camps. There’s something so cool about doing the same, ridiculous cheers as loud as you can with people from across North America! We all screamed our camp’s cheers in the Chadar Ochel (dining room!) The same with rikkud – during free time, we’ll put on some songs and do different variations of the same dances!

Our daily peulot (discussions by group) encouraged us to open up with our peers and bond with people who hold similar values to us. The discussions were a good mixture of meaningful (exploring the concept of shivyon erech ha’adam) and silly (trying to find our “soulmates” based on this-or-that questions). Even though our buses are made up of two different kvutzot, everyone has gotten a healthy dose of bonding, especially through bus cheers and the now infamous seatbelt song! Although we have our classic Habo traditions, we still have fun seeing the differences between machanot.

Another huge highlight of MBI may seem kind of obvious, but just getting to explore this gorgeous country was amazing! From the beautiful views, to the vibrant shuks, to the Mediterranean Sea, everywhere we went was absolutely incredible! What better setting to make new friends and have a blast could there be? Beautiful, sprawling hills, blue, vibrant ocean water, and colorful nature does not begin to describe the country. It’s been such an incredible experience going through Shuk HaCarmel, swimming in the beaches at Tel Aviv, digging in archaeological caves at Tel Maresha, and so much more, knowing that it is the land of our people. We’ve also gotten so many opportunities to learn about different religions and cultures within Israeli society, especially in Haifa. It was really interesting and broadened (at least our) views of Israeli society.

We couldn’t finish this without mentioning the food! There is nothing like it! Israeli breakfast with shakshuka, cucumbers (but different – better – then in North America), and burekas is the perfect start to each day, and getting real Israeli falafel and pita or shawarma during pizza lunches are highlights of our days. What is also so incredible to see and part of what has made us realize that we are not in North America anymore, is the kashrut certification front and center in most shops and restaurants. A bunch of us even went to a kosher McDonald’s – crazy! It really emphasizes the fact we are in a Jewish state, which is really cool and validating.

Workshop 72

On September 13th, the Workshoppers flew to Israel to begin Workshop 72. We have 16 Workshoppers this year, 1 from Mosh, 4 from Miriam, 5 from Galil, and 6 from Gesher.  

After starting off Workshop with their orientation seminar, the Workshoppers are now busy with their second seminar, Shorashim Seminar. This is an introduction to Shorashim, the first part of Workshop, where they will be living on Kibbutz Ein HaShofet, doing avodah (kibbutz work), and having educational activities surrounding Israel, Jewish history, Zionism, and more. They also met members of the Habonim Dror United Kingdom gap year program, who are living on Ein HaShofet as well. 

Later on in the year, the Workshoppers will move to Jerusalem and Haifa to continue the program, where they will learn more about Israeli society through meeting volunteers from NGOs and working with Israeli youth.

Habonim Dror Machanot – Summer 2022 wrap up!

Camp Gesher enjoyed an amazing summer in 2022.

There are too many highlights to list, but here is a top ten list for our summer (in no particular order):

  • We opened our NEW ropes course and played on a NEW water toy.
  • ISRAELIS! We welcomed back 10 Israeli campers and 6 Israeli shlichimot!
  • The Madatz  made their mark on camp with an amazing Music and Magic School bus REV day. Also by painting murals on 2 of the madatzland cabins and giving them cabin names: Nighthawk and the Van.
  • Yom Hike, where the entire camp hiked the Shield Trail at Bon Echo Park, before finishing the afternoon at Clay Beach (South Beach).
  • Bronze Cross: Noam Levy, Liat Levy, Gabby Alvarez-Lewis, Ezra Amey-Dunn, Aviva Khondo and Rowen Schwey all passed the exam! Our instructor Daxton Schwey has ensured a well staffed and safe waterfront for the future.
  • The Garinimot had an amazing “Finner” (Fun Dinner), with a medieval prison theme. They organized, decorated and served the meal for all of the camp.  It was a great opportunity to practice leadership, problem solving, and negotiating group dynamics.
  • Our Tzevet grew in their connections with the movement, and Gesher is proud to have 6 participants on Workshop! This kvutsa will learn and grow, and lead Camp Gesher into a bright future!
  • Kupah trips!  First Session: Younger Campers enjoyed a petting zoo, and a stop at the local ice cream shop while older campers spent the day at Calypso waterpark. Second Session: campers and staff spent the day at Sandbanks Provincial Park with a pizza picnic, group bonding, and games in a true gem of Ontario. It was a wonderful day. 
  • We had our first mental health professional at camp.  Our Community Care Coordinator made a huge impact on our community.
  • A thriving community of young people enjoyed living their values, exploring their Jewish Identity, celebrating Shabbat, and making friends to last a lifetime. 81 NEW campers joined the Gesher family!


This summer at Camp Moshava was a six-week whirlwind!

Some highlights included: special evening programs on reproductive rights and kabbalah, a Shrek-themed special day to learn about refugees,  so many rising 4th and 5th graders that we had two FULL schavot, pirate-themed nitzanimot (rising 3rd grade program), almost 50 new chanichimot of all ages, caring for our animals and tending the gan (garden), hikes galore, meditations in the serpentine, lots of trips down the lazy river, spirited renditions of union songs,  silly and creative tochniot erev (evening activities), and SO MUCH MORE!


Camp Miriam is a place which holds fast to tradition. This tendency is obvious if you just look around: tables in the Chadar are signed and dated by the former chanichimot who painted them, with the oldest table proudly displaying an impressive “1997”. Camp Miriam has a solid foundation of tradition and is not a place accustomed to rapid or unexpected change.

If Camp Miriam is so deeply rooted in tradition, how, then, to return to its customs after they were so rapidly and unexpectedly interrupted during the past couple of years? With 2022 constituting the first year that Camp Miriam could offer campers a full capacity summer on Gabriola Island since 2019, there were many traditions to get back to. I, for one, had started to forget what it feels like when all of camp holds hands on Saturday nights during Havdallah. I was also having a hard time recalling the early morning energy that fills Camp Miriam at 8AM, when around 200 chanichimot and tzevet are just waking up, eager to meet the day.

Of course, I did get around to remembering both the longstanding customs and everyday activities that take place at camp. But I didn’t do it alone. This summer, I worked as a madatz madrichol, one of four Madatz Madrichimot, meaning I spent a lot of time with youth aged 16 to 17. As the future leaders of Camp Miriam, the madatz were grateful to have the chance to take part in their leadership development program. After having lost valuable experiences to the pandemic, they latched onto the madatz program, hungry for the opportunities it would provide them. Throughout the summer, I watched them grow, face challenges, and become people who will be important guides in the lives of Camp Miriam’s chanichimot for years to come. I was impressed and humbled by all the madatz accomplished this summer, and it is largely through them that I was able to remember what it means to be at Camp Miriam.

While in the past two years Camp Miriam has adapted many of these elements of standard camp to conform to the times, nothing quite compares to being back in the old stomping grounds of Gabriola Island. Sure, maybe madrichimot had to explain basic elements of camp to kids more times than usual this summer, but the synapses of the Camp Miriam community were firing, and together, we remembered. It is not a far cry to consider the summer of 2022 as a triumph—both in recovering the institutional memory of Camp Miriam, and in providing campers with meaningful summers. I, for one, know that more than one madatz went home with stories they’ll be telling to their own children.

Reflecting back on the summer, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of pride. There is pride in remembering, and it is thanks to this recovered memory that Camp Miriam will continue to grow.

 by Emma Paidra, chanichol since 2009 and 5th year madrichol  


With out-of-camp kupah trips, tiyul, tikkun olam, and intersession movies returned to our schedule it was almost a “regular” summer at Camp Galil!  Our creative tzevet could get back to running fun crazy tochniot for our chanichimot. We had Bocoup and Revo and then Yom Israel complete with  kabobs and a water slide! And we loved our new climbing tower!

Tzevet and chanichimot from Habonim Dror Mexico joined our community and integrated well. The kids and tzevet all loved each other and the Mexican madatz helped the Galil madatz understand taking responsibility for the ken.

One of the most memorable stories from this incredible summer was from our tiyul when our amazing Rosh Machaneh defended the entire camp on her own from a bear seeking food  by screaming “this is my camp” until the bear left. The power of youth in action!




Camp Tavor summer 2022 was a truly fun and educational summer.  We had an amazing mazkirut and tzevet that created a wonderful magical place for all our chanichimot.

The theme this summer was roots and fruits.  Roots looking into the why and what we do at Tavor and Fruits, the how we put our roots into practice.  The theme naturally weaved its way into so many aspects of the summer and was felt in our everyday activities, from our tikkun olam projects to our asepha klalit (community meeting) discussions for the whole machaneh.

Everyone in our  Tavor community, from our youngest to our oldest members,  was empowered to explore, challenge and lead. We can’t wait for next summer to keep the magic going.


Camp Gilboa had another successful summer! We welcomed 231 individual campers and finished the summer without a Covid outbreak at camp. One highlight of the summer was the MBG program. We had 17 rising 11th graders at camp for a week at the end of the summer. 8 of the 10 Gilboa campers who went on MBI attended MBG, and it was a very nice reunion for this kvutza ahead of their madatz summer! Gilboa’s high schoolers are coming out of the summer excited for Tzedek and to be madatz and madrichimot in the ken this year. Our biggest challenge is that we are at capacity for our campsite and are turning our attention to capital improvements to meet the urgent needs of camp, as well as continuing to grow tzevet.

Check out some other highlights of Gilboa’s summer 2022:



HDCA Newsletter – July 2022

Shehechiyanu for Summer 2022 by Tamar Levi, HDNA Shlicha

Dear HDCA Readers,

This May marked our first in-person movement-wide seminar. I will leave it up to the Mazkirut to share with you more about the seminar, but I was struck by a feeling of loss. It was an overwhelmingly joyful seminar, as we delighted in all of the classic seminar experiences: late-night conversations with new friends, discovering new movement happenings, learning new rikudei-am from each other, arguing in a friendly way and feeling a sense of connectedness as a movement.
The sense of loss came from reflecting on what two years of COVID restrictions have done to our communities, and how much work we still have to do: connecting to each other, renewing traditions, rebuilding trust and reinventing ourselves for a changed world. With that in mind, I wanted to offer a shehechiyanu (prayer for new beginnings) for all of you in the upcoming summer as you engage in the crucial job of supporting the machanot.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

The shecheyanu is recited both for new beginnings, and for “firsts” that occur yearly in the Jewish calendar (the first night of Hanukkah, for example). For most of us, camp is as important a part of our Jewish calendar as any other holiday and its disruption in the summer of 2020 makes it feel all the more special that we are embarking on another, more traditional summer for 2022. I hope the chanichimot who are going to camp to experience the magic of Habonim Dror understand how truly lucky they are to have “arrived at this moment” after so much of what we have taken for granted was thrown into question.

I was very fortunate during my years on tzevet Miriam to work with the wonderful Camp Committee Chair Alisa Bowman, of blessed memory. She told me that when the kids were loaded onto the buses, she took a deep breath and didn’t let it out until the buses came back two months later. As you all take those deep breaths and give over your trust to the youth leadership of camp, may we all feel the blessing of having arrived at this particular moment. And may you continue to be blessed in your work supporting and guiding the machanot of Habonim Dror.

Alehu v’hagshimu!


Machaneh Round-Up by Sharon Waimberg, HDCA co-chair

When I was ED at Camp Galil I was asked over and over… You run a summer camp, what in the world do you do the rest of the year? And then, depending on who was asking, I’d launch into a litany of year-round tasks that are integral and critical to creating a magical and impactful  7 or 8 short weeks for our chanichimot.  And I didn’t do it alone.

Each and every one of us, volunteer or professional, invests significant resources year-round to work together to make our machanot happen every year.   The work can be tedious and frustrating but the pay-off comes each year when our tzevet arrives for chalutz and our machanot begin.

I always felt so very lucky to be part of such a vibrant inspiring community and while it’s true that we all can’t be on-site this summer – we wanted to give you all a little peek into summer 2022 at HDNA machanot so far.


Machaneh Gesher:  Gesher’s mazkirut reports that everything at Gesher is going amazingly so far. All the chanichimot are loving the brand new water toy that was purchased this year. 






Machaneh Miriam:  This is our first full summer back at machaneh on Gabriola Island. We are all very excited to create and experience machaneh magic once again beside the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful evergreen trees. Through COVID, we started a new program called SODO (Solelimot Derech) for the grade 10s because Canadians could not go on MBI. We decided to continue this program this upcoming summer as well. SODO chanichimot will have a 10-day process following MBI – a substantial amount of time at camp – and will discuss their position in the movement, at the ken, and at machaneh over the next year.



Machaneh Galil:  We did our own veida on July 4th to celebrate a real democratic process, where we decided to donate a portion of each kvutza’s kupa to tzedeka. Yesterday we had Yom Tzedek, which was Food Justice themed where we participated in peulot and chuggim about rights for fast food workers, food deserts, and factory farming. Today we went to JRA and packed boxes for people in the greater Philadelphia area experiencing food insecurity.

Follow along with the rest of our summer at the Galil summer blog


Machaneh Moshava:  Chanichimot (campers) spend time with their shikvah (age group) each day to have a fun educational activity and discussion. Each day kids talk about different things such as consent, collectivism, labor and more.  The youngest Mosh campers (Nitzanimot) have arrived as well!

Follow along with the rest of the Mosh summer here:  Moshava Summer Blog



Machaneh Tavor: Kids working in the Chava (farm) at Tavor get to spend some time around the goats, and typically help out with weeding and maintenance. It’s a peaceful and meaningful avodah where our campers learn to grow vegetables, understand composting, and get an overall education about environmental justice and Jewish roots in working the land.





Machaneh Gilboa: Summer 2022 has begun! Every session, the chuggim change depending on what madrichimot (counselors) are excited to lead. We always make sure there are a variety of chuggim that speak to different kids’ needs, energy levels, and interests. This session, the chuggim include messy fun, animal sports, girl band, murals and more!


We hope you will  follow our summer at Big Bear at the Camp Gilboa Summer Blog.


MBI   by Ben Markbreiter, HDNA Rakazol Tochniot

The MBI-ers left North America for Israel on Thursday, June 30th.  MBI this summer has 79 participants representing every machaneh, with over 10 participants from each of 5 of the 6 machanot.  Some highlights from MBI this summer include the classics, such as going to Masada and the Old City, but also meeting with Druze members of Habonim Dror’s sister movement Hanoar Haoved veHalomed. MBIers will also join  Israeli Jewish teens for a week of joint travel and programming.
This is our largest MBI program since MBI 2018, and we couldn’t be more excited for Kvutzah 74 to experience Israel through a Habonim Dror lens.  We hope they have loads of fun, and we can’t wait to see them when they come back for machaneh next summer!





Let’s Support Our Camping Professionals This Summer by Alisa Belinkoff Katz, HDCA Co-Chair

At a June 27 meeting of Jewish camp movement heads sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the following was noted:

  • The weight of this summer is enormous for full time/year round camp professionals and senior leaders.

There was an expectation and understanding that Summer 2021 was going to be difficult and they experienced stakeholder empathy, generous financial support, and appreciation for opening after a summer without camp. 

This summer, camp pros are receiving less support and increased expectations from their community. Few professionals really recovered from Summer 2021 and now are managing their own medical committees, parent and staff opinion, increased threats to physical and psychological safety. Managing all this and more is weighing on camp professionals. 

Camp professionals are challenged with decisions about visitors, policies, short term programs, and more.

As Habonim Dror camp board members, chairpersons and friends, let’s do what we can to provide meaningful support to our camping professionals this summer.  If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Mazkirol Erica Kushner: mazkir@habonimdror.org

Ma’apilimot Seminar 2022  by Erica Kushner, Mazkirol

From May 26-30 HDNA ran our first in-person movement-wide seminar in over two years. Forty participants registered for the seminar, which was a number we were happy with given that the movement is out of practice gathering in-person. The seminar was built around the concept of going back to basics, and understanding why we have seminars and engage in educational processes in the first place. We met, and exceeded, the goals with regards to the educational experience and the chinuchi (educational) content. Participants communicated being highly satisfied with the programming overall, and specifically rated it one of the most impactful elements of the seminar.. They found it to be engaging, relevant, and significant in their preparation and process pre-Summer.

This seminar absolutely fulfilled the goals of allowing ma’apilimot from across the movement, who came with an extremely varied array of experiences in the movement, to feel responsible and empowered in creating the seminar. The post-workshoppers led multiple programs, Tzevet Higui was responsible for a chevrati, and 4 out of 6 machanot brought workshops about concepts that they wanted to bring to the rest of the movement.

This seminar had a positive impact on its participants, and we implore all of you to recruit your communities to attend movement seminars. These seminars allow for leadership development, social connections and support, idea sharing, and deepening ideology. The participants left the seminar feeling  not only more connected to the movement – even for individuals who came having never attended a movement seminar before – but more connected and excited to be on tzevet at their machanot this summer.

Introducing “Reshet MESSH” – HDCA’s Mental Health Initiative

Like many camping organizations, Habonim Dror faces numerous mental health challenges with both staff and campers.  In response, HDCA has created a Mental Health Va’ad (Committee) and introduced a number of initiatives:

  • We convened a communications channel uniting mental health staff at all the machanot including professionals, melavolimot (camper care staff) and members of camp mazkiruyot who deal with mental health issues. This “Reshet MESSH” (“reshet” being the Hebrew word for network, and MESSH standing for MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, and SPIRITUAL HEALTH) met virtually in early June and will be able to consult each other through a google group as issues arise over the course of this summer.  New members are welcome, so send us names and email addresses of camp personnel who could benefit from participating in Reshet MESSH.
  • We identified an organization called LEAD (“Let’s Empower, Advocate and Do”) which was founded by a group of high school students in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012. LEAD is now a well-regarded non-profit mental health education group that works with youth-serving institutions including summer camps.  They offer mental health training for summer camp staffs culminating in the award of “Camp Mental Health Certification.”  In May, HDCA assisted several machanot in providing LEAD training/certification to appropriate staff members, and in June, LEAD trained Gesher’s entire staff!  Reports from HD personnel attending these sessions are very positive.

  • LEAD also offers a “Train the Trainer” program which we hope to utilize in 2022-23. Stay tuned!
  • We  have created a google drive for sharing resources with folders for Health, Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Policies and other issues of concern. We invite each machaneh to share its best practices with the movement by sending us documents to include.


Welcome Tyson RobertsGilboa’s Incoming Board Chair 

After several years of successful leadership, having survived COVID and expanded both camp and year-round enrollment, Julie Macht Beenhouwer has turned over the chairmanship of the Camp Gilboa Board of Directors to Tyson Roberts.  Thank you, Julie and Baruch Haba, Tyson!

Tyson did not grow up in Habonim but spent six months in Israel during college, taking an ulpan at Kibbutz Bet HaEmek (British Habonim) and studying at Haifa University.  He loved the kibbutz vibe and later volunteered at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu.  When searching for a summer camp for their children, he and his wife Naomi came across Gilboa and were attracted by its similarity to kibbutz living.  His daughters began attending Gilboa in 2015, and this summer Edie, 15, will be going on MBI while Shoshana, 18, will be a first-time tzevet member.

Professionally, Tyson is a Lecturer in Political Science at UCLA where he researches African Politics, International Political Economy, and Authoritarian Institutions.  He has long experience in Africa:  between 1995 and 1997 he served in the Peace Corps as a Rural Community Development Volunteer in  Benin where he worked with local partners to fund a goat-raising cooperative, establish a girls’ vocational training center, and organize a microcredit program, among other efforts.  Back home in L.A. he’s been active in refugee assistance work. For example, he co-chaired the Los Angeles Jews for Refugees Assembly (https://www.jcari-la.org/assembly-event) in 2018, which included a teen voter pre-registration program run by Camp Gilboa Bonimot Tzedek members.

As a Gilboa board member since 2018, Tyson has worked on marketing and fundraising.  Most recently he’s served as Chair of the Master Plan Committee which aims to expand camp’s capacity to service its growing enrollment and, potentially, to produce off-season income.  The Master Plan includes new healthcare and activities buildings, senior staff housing, an expanded chadar ochel and additional bathrooms.  Architects and engineers are working on plans and permits, and the capital campaign will begin this fall.

Tyson’s goals as Chair include improving programming and professionalizing back-office operations so that the organization can grow and mature.  Welcome to HDCA, Tyson!  We look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Habonim Dror in the News

Sleepaway Camps Are In Demand As Parents Try To Get Their Kids Away From Screens

by Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer  June 21, 2022


We hope you’ll enjoy this article referencing Habonim Dror Camp Galil that was originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The article was then picked up by other newspapers around the US, without a paywall, so we have posted it here from NNY 360.  Make sure you scroll through all 4 photographs!


Habonim Dror’s sister movement in Israel, Dror Israel,  found a way to make tangible impact in the lives of Ukrainian refugee children in Poland.

This article on jewishboston.com tells the story.











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HDCA Newsletter – May 2022

Introducing the HDCA website

If you’re reading this edition of our HDCA newsletter, you’ve found yourself on the new HDCA website. On this site you’ll find links to our affiliated machanot and organizations, as well as information about those organizations. We hope you find this communication tool one more important step in our quest for closer communication and relationships.

Toda raba to Danny Fishman for his hard work and guidance to make this a reality.

Aleh v’hagshem,

Alisa Belinkoff Katz and Sharon Waimberg

PS  You can now subscribe to this newsletter at “HDCA Blog” in the menu above. Pass the word!

A Return to In-Person Movement Seminars! by Jenna Abrams, Rakazol Chinuch

In March, we had our first in-person movement seminars in 2 years! We decided to combine Moetzet Madatz and Moetzet Mazkirut, which are the (usually separate) training seminars that the Mazkirut Artzit runs for the youth leadership of the machanot. Due to COVID guidelines, we unfortunately had to host the seminar in two separate locations. For the Canadian machanot, we had a three day seminar in Toronto, and for the American machanot, we had a three day seminar in Philadelphia. We had a total of 40 people at both seminars, and have since gathered all together on Zoom to give the leadership a chance to meet each other and share updates about summer preparations. The content of the seminar was generally well-received by the participants, and we had a lot of fun together in both locations. Here are some highlights of the seminar:

  • Tafkid (position) time: for sharing ideas and best practices with others doing the same tafkid as you
  • Fun chevratim (bonding activities) and relationship building
  • Machaneh time: for planning and important conversations about the summer with your tzevet (staff group)
  • Training on Introducing anti-racist policy to machaneh
  • Training on how to address anti-semitism with your chanichimot
  • Guest Speaker about creating a positive culture around sex/relationships for tzevet
  • Skill-building around navigating difficult conversations around Israel/Zionism
  • Guest speaker about mental health + inclusion (who happens to be a Jewish comedian!)
  • Training on leadership + project management
  • Discussion of tactics for tzevet/madatz retention


HDNA Programs Update  by Ben Markbreiter, Rakazol Tochniot

MBI just keeps growing and growing! Since the last HDCA Newsletter, MBI has grown from 60 participants to 77 participants, with more expected to register.  At of this date, we have gone through all the tickets that NFTY purchased on the group flights, so they are purchasing individual tickets for anyone who registers at this time with an added fee.  This fee goes up depending on the price of the seat on the plane, so if you or anyone you know is still thinking about registering  for MBI, do so now!

Workshop 71 sikkum

Workshop 71 is officially over. The chanichimot had their sikkum (wrap-up) seminar right as Pesach started, and even though many tears were shed, everyone is incredibly excited to come back to HDNA with all they learned on Workshop.

Workshop 72 registration is in full swing.We are currently at 4 applicants with about 10 more in the process of filling out their applications. 

We are still very actively looking for new participants for Workshop 72, so if you know of anyone or wish to help with Workshop recruitment, please send the Rakazol Tochniot, Ben Markbreiter, information at programs@habonimdror.org


Habonim Dror and Partners Volunteer with Ukranian Refugees

by Tamar Levi, HDNA Central Shlicha

“It’s amazing that everywhere in the world kids are the same, they just want to play and laugh and run.” – Yelena Adelman, volunteer in Warsaw. 
As most of us have watched in horror, the war in Ukraine has dragged on for over two months. Every day  its humanitarian toll increases: today over 13 million refugees have fled Ukraine, leaving behind other civilians in drastic conditions. For me, it has been a small comfort to know that our partners across the world in Israel are supporting the refugees in many different ways. Please read on to find out what our partners, and specifically some of our HDNA bogrimot, have been up to.
Dror Israel and Hanoar Haoved

Phia Blumenthal, Tavor, Workshop 58

Our sister movement has organized day-camps in absorption centers in Israel for the new refugees, as well as providing bureaucratic support and running donation drives for necessary items. As the Ukranians have transitioned into more permanent locations, some of the children have maintained connections to the madrichim that they met, and joined kenim of Hanoar Haoved or ulpanim run by Dror Israel.

Dror Israel has also sent delegations of volunteers to Moldova, Romania and Warsaw to work with the refugees. In Warsaw, they are operating a daycare center at one of the biggest refugee centers, where thousands of people pass every day. The fifth delegation of volunteers is leaving soon, with two more planned to follow. You can find more information about their work here:
Phia Blumenthal (Workshop 58, Tavor), Yelena Adelman (Workshop 54, Tavor), Joanna Zeiger Guerra (Workshop 57, Galil) and Leah Silverberg (Workshop 56, Gesher) have participated on these delegations.
Habonim Dror Around the World 

Ken Marseilles with donations


HD France and Belgium have mounted very successful drives for clothing and supplies, which have been driven to the border areas the refugees are passing through.

Workshop 71
While in Poland for their Holocaust Learning Trip, the Workshoppers visited a yeshiva that was being used as a temporary housing site for refugees in Eastern Poland, and visited Phia and Yelena in Warsaw to learn about the daycare service they were offering. While in Lublin, they helped prepare care packages.

Workshoppers preparing packages



Habonim Dror Olami and the Kibbutz Movement 

Habonim Dror Olami and the Kibbutz Movement have sent delegations of volunteers to Poland and Romania to assist in areas where refugees are congregating. These include madrichim to work with children, and medical and mental health support workers.
The Kibbutz Movement has also collected clothing, gathered donations, and raised money. They are facilitating the absorption of immigrants into individual kibbutzim.
May we soon all know more peaceful days.

Introducing Avi Edelman – Moshava Incoming Board Chair 

Camp Moshava has new board leadership. After several years of service, Pam Stone has passed the presidency on to Avi Edelman.  Thank you Pam for your hard work and dedication to Mosh!

Avi at Mosh in 2003

 Avi may be the youngest of our six HD Camp Board leaders – he’s turning 33 as we write these words.  He began as a chanichol at Mosh in 2001, continuing through the years as a camper and then participating in MBI,  madatz, and tzevet, ultimately serving as Rosh Mosh in 2011 and 2012.

After “aging out” of the movement, Avi wanted to stay connected.  He immediately joined the Mosh board and has remained a member (with a break for term limits) ever since, heading up fundraising efforts among other things.  He has enjoyed working as a lay leader because he sees such work as another expression of Habonim Dror values, which are reflected not only in our youth programming but also in the way we maintain our organization and help it grow.  

Avi (2nd from right) with past Mosh Roshim

Avi graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Film Studies and is about to receive his Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management, also from Columbia.  He lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York and is able to maintain his Mosh leadership position thanks to Zoom!  He currently works at Columbia as Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Education, focusing on several intergroup dialogue and facilitation initiatives and advising identity and culture-based student groups.  At Columbia, Avi founded a program called Sankofa Tzedek, which brings together a cohort of students on campus for a year of personal identity development, intergroup dialogue, intercultural learning, transformational travel and social justice education that centers the experiences and histories of Black and Jewish communities.. “Sankofa” is a symbol from the Akan tribe in Ghana, often depicted as a bird that is looking backwards over its shoulder, suggesting that as a people moves forward, the knowledge of the past must never be forgotten.

Avi says that Mosh played a truly formative role in shaping not only his values, but also the way he approaches his work.  “When I’m running a dialogue group with Columbia students, it’s just like shaping a pe’ula,” he says.  Congratulations on your new role, Avi!


Welcome Danya Shapiro – Tavor Executive Director

Machaneh Tavor has undergone a major leadership change as Danya Shapiro has replaced Amit Weitzer as Executive Director.  Amit served for almost six years in this important position and is now working as the Detroit-area Director of Hazon, an organization committed to weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life.  Best wishes to Amit as she embarks on this new journey!

Rosh Tavor Danya Shapiro (right) with her siblings

The Tavor Executive Director baton has been passed to Danya Shapiro, a lifelong Tavornik and Jewish educator. Danya grew up in Chicago and came to Tavor on her own initiative at age 11. She had no family connection or friends in Habonim, but after reading a brochure and attending a parlor meeting, found herself intrigued by the kibbutz element and signed up.

Years later, she’s still here!  Danya attended MBI and Workshop 47. She worked as a madrichol at Tavor and Mosh, later serving as Rosh Tavor.  She eventually joined the national mazkirut as Gizbarit (Treasurer).

Danya made aliyah with a Habonim garin and worked in various HD tafkidim in Israel, including as Workshop Madrichol.  It was there that she met her now-husband, a Galilnik named Matt Becker – also a Workshop Madrichol. They are now the parents of Ruth, age 11, and Ziv, age 8 (Tavorniks, too!)

Danya and Matt returned to the U.S. where they continued their HD activity as staff at Galil.  Later moving to Cleveland, Ohio, Danya re-engaged with Tavor, joining their board of directors 4 years ago.

Danya has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked in Jewish community settings including pre-schools and kindergartens. Most recently she served as Family Program Manager for jHUB at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, whose mission is to offer interfaith families ways to comfortably explore, discover and personalize Jewish culture and values. Danya is also an artist specializing in fabric arts and has made custom wedding chuppahs for many Habo alums.  

Danya was motivated to take on the job of Tavor E.D. because she recognized the huge impact Habonim Dror has had on her life’s course and on who she has become as a person.  She sees this tafkid as an opportunity to give back – and pay it forward.  She looks forward to working with all elements of the Tavor community, elevating the voices of donors, alumni, parents and youth leaders at this important time.  May you go from strength to strength, Danya!

This Yom Ha’azmaut, Ameinu and Habonim Dror invite you to join us in a celebration of Israeli music and culture!

The event will be hosted by Robbie Gringrass, an Israeli performer and educator.

Robbie will present, play and discuss 5 songs that represent the “Israeli story” inspired by the words of “Hatikvah” – “To Be a People Free in Our Land” ; One song addresses security (To Be), one relates to Jewishness (People), the third addresses Freedoms and the fourth talks about the Land. The last song will be for good luck!

All the clips will have English subtitles, and you are encouraged to connect your screen to some good loud speakers!

Come ready to share your list – what five songs would you say “sum up” Israel?

The event will be held online on Sunday, May 15th, 1pm est / 10am pt.

The event is free but rsvp is needed in this link:


About Robbie Gringrass

Robbie was born and bred in the Jewish community of Britain, but has been living and creating in Israel since 1996, primarily with Jewish Americans. As such his work – educational and theatrical – bridges the Israel-Diaspora connection with empathy and insight.

He lives in the secular world, while his knowledge base and research specialties – especially after his many years studying in Jerusalem – are deeply religious.