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!