Galil Establishes Israel Programs Scholarship Fund
Habonim Dror Camp Galil is thrilled to announce that it has received a transformational gift establishing a scholarship fund for Camp Galil campers who wish to attend Habonim Dror North America’s Israel programs.
The $50,000 gift, from an anonymous Galil family, establishes the Galil Shachar Israel Program Scholarship Fund. The gift will be
invested and proceeds will be used to support need-based scholarships for Camp Galil chaverimot attending HDNA’s MBI and Workshop programs. Shachar, which means “sunrise” in Hebrew, holds personal significance for the donor family.
The Galil Shachar Israel Program Scholarship Fund will enable more Camp Galil teens to have meaningful experiences in Israel, strengthen their Jewish identity and deepen their connection to Israel and the Jewish people. With this gift the Galil community will have the ability to support chaverimot throughout their entire Galil/Habonim Dror journeys. The family shares that they were inspired to make this gift when “We saw what a huge impact Galil had on the lives of our children and grandchildren and how their experience in Israel cemented their ties to the country and their Jewish identity. We want to make sure that every Galil family can participate in this impactful experience.”
Galil expects to begin supporting chaverimot attending MBI and Workshop with Shachar funding later this year. Todah rabah to the donor family, and kol hakavod to everyone in the Galil community who helped make this happen.
COVID-19 was a problem for many machanot. For Gesher, it was also an opportunity to stabilize, reorganize and reinvigorate the board and camp community.
When COVID shut down summer camp in 2020, Gesher was extremely fortunate to have “business interruption” insurance that paid off. Gesher was also able to obtain matching grants from JCamp 180’s “All Together Now” program and from a Toronto foundation. More importantly, alumni and members of the board with fundraising experience stepped up to ensure Gesher’s survival and success. This group met weekly during COVID to keep development efforts moving forward. They were assisted by new Assistant Director Matthew Jadd and by Executive Director Shoshana (Shoshi) Lipschultz.
Under the leadership of this group, Gesher embarked on a fundraising program which yielded impressive results. Where in the past annual fundraising might yield $10,000, Gesher is now raising at least $40,000 a year and potentially much more. Gesher has established a healthy Emergency Fund, and has raised enough money in its Facilities Fund to refurbish the kitchen and dining hall, replace unsanitary living accommodations, rebuild the docks and much more. Shoshi says, “We still have a long way to go, but we are no longer living on the edge.”
Perhaps more importantly, Gesher has completely restructured its committees, board and behind-the-scenes operations. Working with JCamp 180 mentor Michael Miloff, the Gesher community dove deeply into nonprofit governance, rewriting its by-laws, overhauling its board and conducting its first Annual General Meeting in many years. New members were recruited for the board and committees, bookkeeping was streamlined, and a strategic plan was put in place. Gesher took advantage of training programs offered by JCamp 180 for boards and professional staff, including Adapt (for COVID issues), LEAP (for board chairs) and GIFT (fundraising), as well as the Enrollment Program.
With these changes, Gesher is primed for great things in the future. According to Board Co-Chair Sheara Guttman, “Gesher plans to continue this momentum forward, not only in our restructuring efforts within organizational governance, but also by making Gesher the best camp it can be for our chanichimot and tzevet. We hope to achieve this by continuing to build our new Board and Committee structure, expanding our membership and giving our facility a few much-needed infrastructure upgrades that will make Gesher an even more beautiful and adventurous place.”
Incoming Board Co-Chair David Moscovitch gives Executive Director Shoshi Lipschultz a great deal of credit for these accomplishments. David notes that Shoshi had only one summer under her belt as ED before COVID hit, and “has done an incredible job to keep Gesher moving forward.”
Shoshi in turn praises the Gesher community, saying: “I am so proud of the Gesher Board and of the entire community. COVID became an opportunity to do a deep dive into governance, board structure, professional roles, fundraising, alumni engagement – you name it, we addressed it. This is also a testament to our former Board Chair, Gary Lichtblau who worked tirelessly for years to prime Gesher to take these brave next steps. It is inspiring to see how this community has come together and rebuilt from our foundation. For me personally, this has been an amazing process to lead and participate in. It has been a privilege to serve Gesher at this time, and with such an amazing team of leaders.”
Kol hakavod to all!
HDCA Leadership Changes
Welcome Kevin Bernstein – Camp Moshava Executive Director
HD Camp Moshava said farewell recently to longtime Executive Director Jen Braveman, who is moving on to new opportunities in her personal and professional life. B’hatzlacha, Jen! Talia Rodwin, who previously served as Assistant Director, has taken the job of Camp Director, while Kevin Bernstein will serve as Executive Director. Talia will oversee camp operations while Kevin focuses on year-round issues including fundraising, community relations and board development.
Kevin is a lifelong Habonim-nik. His parents met as participants in the very first Habonim Workshop and he grew up going to Moshava, Machaneh Bonim (in the U.S.) and Workshop 26. Kevin married a fellow Moshnik (Rebecca Meyer, Workshop 28) and made aliya with his family in 1993. They lived on Kibbutz Shefayim and in Kfar Saba, returning to the Philadelphia area in 1999. His three daughters all followed in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, going to Camp Galil and, when the time came, to Workshop 57 (Sophia), 59 (Molly), and 63 (Eva).
Kevin began professional life as a veterinarian, inspired by his Workshop experiences milking cows at Kibbutz Grofit, and conducting poultry research in Israel after making aliya. Upon his return to the U.S. he had a strong desire to play a professional role in the American Jewish community, so enrolled at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and became a Rabbi. He has worked as the educational director of several Philly-area synagogues and in the development department of the RRC.
“Working in the Jewish educational world, the power of youth movement education always came back to me. I felt that the connection that most teachers have with students is not as potentially powerful as what I felt in the youth movement – when you are modeling and serving as “dugma” (example) for someone who is no more than five years younger than yourself.” While he is much too old to be that teacher, he hopes to be in a position to facilitate that connection for Moshava tzevet and chanichimot.
Baruch Habah, Kevin!
Welcome David Moscovitch – Camp Gesher Board Co-Chair
After several years of service, Dana Brookman has stepped down as co-chair of Camp Gesher. Todah rabah, Dana! Taking her place (and co-chairing with Sheara Guttman) is David Moscovitch.
David hails from Toronto and first attended Camp Gesher at age 14. He went on the very first MBI and participated in the first Madatz program at Gesher, then worked as a madrich and later as Rosh Machaneh Gesher and Rosh Ken Toronto (where he was paired with current HDNA Chair Jared Matas.) He is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo.
Like so many Habonim Dror members, David “aged out” after his last tafkid and had no connection with the movement for many years, until
Gesher hosted a 50th Reunion in 2013. David attended with one of his sons, and experienced what he calls “a magical weekend for us” – singing old songs, reconnecting with old friends, just being in the HD environment. His son Ezra loved the Gesher vibe and became a chanichol that summer (he’s now preparing to go on MBI), followed a few years later by his younger son Eitan. For his part, David joined the Gesher board.
David sees the co-chair role as “an opportunity to stand behind a cause that’s personally meaningful to me. Gesher gave me so much in my life – the values of the movement really informed my views on the world and the experience of the movement gave me my closest relationships. I really attribute the trajectory of my life to Habonim Dror. Gesher makes good people!” Thanks for taking on this tafkid, David!
Reflections on Six Months of Shlichut – by Tamar Levi
This month marks six months since my family and I moved to Philadelphia from our kibbutz in Israel. I wouldn’t say that becoming the Central Shlicha was a dream of mine, but in some ways I guess it was the natural stepping stone in a life that has been so deeply guided by my time in Habonim Dror North America. My desire to be the shlicha stemmed from the values that were instilled in me as a chanicha at Camp Miriam: a belief in the transformative power of education, love and concern for the Jewish people, the pursuit of justice and faith in young people. These same values led me towards the life I built in Israel over the last decade: as a member of a kibbutz focused on education to change Israeli society. I wanted to come back to the movement that has shaped my life path and contribute to its strength and ensure its future.
I have likened my experience these last few months to coming back to your kitchen after some time away to find everything has been rearranged. It looks the same, you feel like you should know where everything is and how to use it, but you open the cutlery drawer and find it full of cups. You can’t quite find your way. The movement is both the same I grew up in, and vastly different. Thankfully, I have had some excellent guides to show me around “the kitchen,” and I thank those of you that been a part of re-introducing me to HDNA and the machanot.
In December we hosted Winter Seminar on line. Something stuck out to me that I would like to share with you. We studied the 2020 Pew Center Study for Jewish Americans (you can find it here), and took some parts of the survey ourselves in order to see how we compare to the rest of the Jewish community. There’s all of the predictable findings in the study, about polarization, concern about American democracy, assimilation, controversy around Israel, etc. However, a different data set caught my eye: what components are essential to my Jewish identity? To the question of how essential being part of a Jewish community is to their identity, 30% of the 18-29 aged cohort answered “essential.” 75% of HDNA members answered “essential.” This is an even higher percentage than the Orthodox community (69%)!
This to me speaks deeply to the enduring success of Habonim Dror in creating Jewish leaders: the commitment to Jewish community, which stems from our experiences at machaneh. HDNA offers chanichim a chance to live their values, to create a community based on their vision of a world that doesn’t exist yet. It provides the Jewish framework (the kitchen cupboards if you will) but asks them to fill it with their own unique vision. This positive experience of Jewish community impacts them for life. I felt very affirmed that we are on the right path, and hopeful about our future, to see how many ma’apilimot feel that community is an essential part of their identity.
I hope 2022 will bring us more opportunities to meet face-to-face and build our own HDNA community, and I wish us all luck as we turn our attention towards building the best Jewish communities we can for our chanichimot this summer.
We are excited to announce that we just reached 60 MBI applicants and are now able to open a second MBI bus! This is the most MBI participants that we’ve had in several years and we can’t wait for this kvutzah to have such a full national shichva experience!
Our current Workshoppers (Workshop 71) have now been in Israel for 5 months and have enjoyed living on Kibbutz Ravid, in Jerusalem and in Haifa! They have spent the past 6 weeks settling into their house in Haifa and volunteering in schools and youth centers with our sister movement Hanoar HaOved VeHalomed. In a month, they will embark on a week-long journey to Poland (Covid-allowing) to learn about the Holocaust and the role of Jewish youth movements in acts of resistance and rebellion!
We have also opened the registration for next year, Workshop 72! If you know a teen who may be interested in a gap year in Israel, full of informal & experiential learning, collective living, volunteering in agriculture & with youth, kvutzah building, and much more, you can invite them to our next online Info Session on March 13th. Parents or potential participants can register for an info session here: Workshop 72 Info Session
HDNA Winter Seminar 2021
After the difficult decision to postpone Veida until May 2022 (see HDCA Blog from November 2021) and after more than two years of not gathering together, we builta winter seminar rationale that would include essential content and relationship-building to prepare the movement for the upcoming Veida. Because of Omicron, we had to change the vision of our seminar in the week prior to the seminar, but we did our best to meet the programmatic and social goals given the circumstances, and we had 81 people register for the programs.
The elements that participants reported being the best parts of Winter Seminar were the relationship/conversations they had with other seminar participants, the structure/the way that the seminar was organized, and the topics/content of the programming. Overall, many participants reported very positive feelings about the environment that was created during the seminar. They felt that it was comfortable, inclusive, and welcoming, which very much contrasts reports that we had from Winter Seminar 2020. The top three elements that participants reported needing improvement were the amount of time spent on Zoom, the creativity of the methods, and the participation of participants. At this point, we are struggling to see how much longer we can keep having Zoom seminars. As sharp and efficient as we make them, Zoom is not the most effective platform for building relationships and it seriously impacts the experience of our participants in movement programming. In the feedback for each individual program, we got very positive feedback about specific methods and the content of the programs, but it was still one of the overall pieces of feedback that we got about elements of the seminar that need to be improved. Zoom infringes on connectivity, and many participants reported that they had to skip programs due to Zoom burnout.
Overall the seminar was a success in creating a more positive movement culture, but we feel that we still have a lot of work to do towards the upcoming Veida. It was difficult to ensure a cohesive process because most participants didn’t attend every program. However the participants reported that the tzevet was very informed and inclusive, and was very helpful in answering questions that they had which aided in the experience of the participants. We were happy that so many different movement members engaged in building and facilitating the seminar even though it was at times difficult to organize, and we hope we will be able to engage even more in building Veida.
Mental Health Va’ad
HDCA has successfully recruited participants for our movement-wide Mental Health Va’ad which will begin meeting shortly. Committee members include camp board members, camp professional staff, camp mental health professionals and camp tzevet members, as well as both HDCA co-chairs and a member of mazkirut artzit.
In the meantime, machanot are encouraged to sign up for this FREE three-session “Camper Care Boot Camp” sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Please note that FJC suggests that each participating camp send multiple staff members to this important learning event.
Kehillot: Camper Care Boot Camp 3-Part Series – Wednesdays, 12:00-1:30pm ET, March 9th, 16th and 23rd (*optional for Yedid Nefesh camps)
- This 3-part series, sponsored by the Yashar initiative in collaboration with Yedid Nefesh, will address staffing structures, camper intake, strengthening family relationships, seasonal leadership opportunities, implementing camper ‘success plans,’ and more! If interested, we encourage multiple team members from each camp to participate.
- Register for this Camper Care Boot Camp series here.
The HDNA Zionism Vaad and Winter Seminar 2021 – by Sadie Quinn
The screenshot below is the first page of an article written by Sadie Quinn of Machaneh Miriam and published in the Iton of Habonim Dror. If you’d like to read the article online as well as the rest of the Iton, you will find it on pages 25 – 28 here: Iton
Habonim Dror In The News
HDCA joins in honoring the life and legacy of Rabbi Sy Dresner, a civil rights leader and progressive Israel activist with deep roots in Habonim. You can find this article here .