Bnei Akiva emblem
|Type||Jewish Youth Movement|
|Legal status||Nonprofit organization|
|Coordinates||31°46.892′N 35°12.988′E / 31.781533°N 35.216467°E|
|Remarks||named after Rabbi Akiva|
Bnei Akiva (Hebrew: בני עקיבא, lit: Children of Akiva) is the largest religious Zionist youth movement in the world, with over 125,000 members in 42 countries. It was established in 1929 in Mandatory Palestine.
Bnei Akiva was established as the youth wing of the Mizrachi movement. The axiom of Bnei Akiva is Torah v'Avodah, a phrase coined by Rav Shmuel Chaim Landau (Shachal). Bnei Akiva first came into existence in the late 1920s, following World War I. Concurrent with the establishment of the movement in pre-independence Israel, organizations of religious youth operated in the Diaspora. Some of them adopted the name Bnei Akiva and others had appellations such as Hashomer Hadati. Twenty-five years later (1958), the Israeli and Diaspora groups merged and the Mazkirut Olamit (World Secretariat) of Bnei Akiva was formed.
Bnei Akiva's twin ideals of Torah and Avodah loosely translate to religious commitment/study and work on the land of Israel. The movement has an anthem called Yad Ahim. As a pioneering Zionist youth movement, Bnei Akiva believes that it is a central commandment of Judaism to emigrate to the land of Israel—"make Aliya"—and maintains that the future of the Jewish people is tied to the state of Israel. Bnei Akiva feels that Jewish youth in the Diaspora should be educated to realize that the State of Israel needs them, and that they, in turn, need it. In the early years of pioneering, Avodah was understood as meaning agricultural work, as reflected in the symbolism on the "Semel" (see below, The Emblem). In more recent years, there has driven a shift in ideology towards a broader definition of working for the development of the country. (See Avodah article).
Similarly, the original socialist aims of Bnei Akiva are also taking more of a back-seat. Up to the 1980s many Bnei Akiva members joined religious Kibbutzim in Garinim (groups). They were either groups based on army service together Nahal or they were groups that came on Aliya (emigrated) to Israel together. Since the 1990s, a wider view of how to contribute to Israeli life has become accepted. Bnei Akiva members now typically settle in development towns, settlements etc. They are active in all areas of Israeli life including security, hi-tech, education, academia etc.
Bnei Akiva's objectives are to educate Jewish youth with values of Torah Va'Avodah (Torah and work), to provide stimulating experiential and informal opportunities for encountering Judaism, and to encourage Jewish continuity and leadership, e.g. members are encouraged to spend a year in Israel on organised learning and touring programs to broaden their knowledge of Israel and developing their leadership skills.
The term "Bnei Akiva" and its ideology relates directly to the story of Rabbi Akiva. At the age of 40 years, after growing up tending flock, he changed his ways and decided that he needed to find out the essence of the Jewish faith. He reasoned that just as something as soft as water can penetrate a solid rock and cause it to erode, so too can the Torah penetrate into himself. Chanichim (lit. students) strive to emulate Rabbi Akiva and his qualities, namely his love of God, devotion to the Torah, respect for labor, love of Israel, and his fight for its independence.
Some members would like Bnei Akiva's slogan to be "Am Yisrael b'Eretz Yisrael al pi Torat Yisrael"—"The (Jewish) Nation of Israel living in the Land of Israel according to the Torah of Israel". This is the slogan of the original Mizrachi movement.
In Israel, Bnei Akiva is affiliated with the Religious Kibbutz Movement and the National Religious Party. It is run by a National Secretariat (Hanhala Artzit). Outside Israel, local branches of Bnei Akiva are under the Bnei Akiva Olami (Worldwide) organization.
Symbols of Bnei Akiva
The "Semel", Bnei Akiva's emblem, shows farming utensils and wheat sheaves symbolizing the agricultural perspective of the ideology, and two tablets of stone in the center symbolizing the Torah perspective. The two perspectives of Torah and Avoda are united together by the ribbon which says Bnei Akiva on it - symbolizing that the two aspects can only and must work hand in hand. The letters on the two tablets are the Hebrew letters 'Taf' and 'Ayin' standing for Torah veAvoda ("Torah and work") By work, Bnei Akiva means working in Israel. Helping and developing Israel, so Israel can be an example for all the other countries.
The Bnei Akiva's anthem was composed by Moshe-Zvi Neria (originally known as Chaver Minkin). He composed the anthem during the Chol HaMoed period of the holiday of Sukkot, 1932, at a gathering of youth leaders in Kfar Saba.
Although the words and the melody have been changed to some extent, the anthem is sung on many Bnei Akiva occasions.
The anthem, Yad Achim, is sung in Hebrew.
|Original Text||Translation to English|
|יד אחים לכם שלוחה, הנוער החביב
על דגלנו כולכם, חנו מסביב
יזהיר לכם כוכב תורה
דרככם סוגה בעבודה
בלב אמיץ ובעזרת ה´, עלה נעלה!
קדימה בני-עקיבא, הידד במעלה!
מולדת זו, ארץ אבות, ארצנו הקדושה
מידי אביר-יעקב לנו מורשה
ראשינו בעמקי תורתה
כפינו ברגבי אדמתה
בלב אמיץ ובעזרת ה´, עלה נעלה!
קדימה בני-עקיבא, הידד במעלה!
|A brotherly hand is stretched out to you, O beloved youth:
Gather yourselves around our flag.
The star of the Torah shall shine for you,
Your path shall be one of labour.
With a sturdy heart, with the help of God, we will go up,
Forward, Bnei Akiva, forward to the heights!
This homeland, the holy Land of our fathers,
our heritage from the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob.
Our minds are steeped in her Torah,
Our hands are immersed in her soil.
With a sturdy heart, with the help of God, we will go up,
Forward, Bnei Akiva, forward to the heights!
Bnei Akiva branches all over the world start or end their meetings with mifkad, in a "chet"-shaped (rectangle missing one if its smaller sides) assembly where announcements are made, members are counted and the ideology is reaffirmed. With slight variations, the text of mifkad is the same all over the world, following a basic structure.
|שבט||Shevet||Tribe||Age group. A Shevet receives its name at age 14 approximately. The name remains with that shevet forever.|
|סניף||Snif||Branch||Local branch of the movement, usually holding activities on a weekly basis.|
|מדריך||Madrich||Guide||Counsellor, group leader|
|חניך||Chanich||Pupil||Member of the movement, before Gap year.|
|הכשרה||Hachshara||Preparation||Gap year programme for high school graduates in Israel. There are various programmes but all mix elements of Torah study and other activities.|
|שליח||Shaliach||Emissary||The World movement sends emissaries to the local branches. The idea is to teach Hebrew, encourage aliya and Judaism. Shlichim can be bachelors after army service or families.|
Bnei Akiva around the world
Bnei Akiva Australia
There are currently four snifim in Australia; one in Perth, one in Melbourne, and two in Sydney (in both Bondi and Maroubra). The Melbourne snif is the largest in Bnei Akiva Olami. Tochniot are held on Saturday afternoons, and bi-annual camps are run for each state. Other initiatives include weekly learning, group volunteer days, and regular minyanim. Bnei Akiva Melbourne runs an annual "Amazing Race" styled event. Bnei Akiva Sydney celebrated its 50th anniversary on November 7, 1999, at the Hakoah Club. The event was well received by madrichim, chanichim, and bogrim. Bnei Akiva Perth is a flourishing snif that is a driving force in the Perth Jewish Community. It co-ordinates a number of events during the year including a themed Kabbalat Shabbat, providing gift baskets for Purim, an Israeli history movie night and Shabbat dinners throughout the year. There is a federal summer camp held in December attended by senior chanichim from all snifim in Australia and New Zealand. Bnei Akiva Australia is a member of the Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC).
Bnei Akiva Brazil
There are two branches In Rio de Janeiro, one in Copacabana (Snif Metzadah) and one in Tijuca (Snif Beit Yafah). Bnei Akiva's presence in São Paulo started in the 50s. It now has two branches, one in Jardins and one in Higienopolis. Bnei Akiva also have a snif in Belém. Bnei Akiva's activities include Shabbatonim, camp (each year there are two camps in São Paulo and two in Rio de Janeiro), many field trips, and commemorations of the holidays.
Bnei Akiva of Europe
Bnei Akiva Netherlands
In the Netherlands, Bne Akiwa (the way it is transcribed in Dutch) started after the Holocaust period. During the latter half of the 20th century its main yearly activities were weekly pe'ulot on Shabbath in Amsterdam and on Sunday in other cities, summer and winter camps in the country, different European camps in the summer (Sayarim and Seminar Torani), Avoda summercamp in Israel, and participation in Hachshara year in Israel programs; Shabbath Ha'irgun weekend; publication of the magazine Zeraim. Different from other countries the movement is led by a Board which consists of members aged 16–22 years, placing a rather big responsibility on young shoulders, while the shaliach is the chairman. Many members have made aliya, while those who stay(ed) play(ed) significant roles in Jewish communal and non-Jewish life.
Bnei Akiva France
There are snifim in the most important cities such as Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg. Paris hosts several snifim. Each year several mahanot are organized for the winter and summer holidays. A Shabbat is organized each year for all the madrichim around the country. In France, the director of a snif is called a merakez.
Bnei Akiva Belgium
There are two snifim in Belgium: one in Antwerp and one in Brussels. There are mahanot organized each year in the winter (in the French Alps) and in the summer (depending on age there is the regular mahane, Sayarim and mahane Avoda). The madrichim attend a Shabbat with the rest of the European madrichim every year.
Bnei Akiva Switzerland
Bnei Akiva Switzerland was founded in 1936. Numerous former Bnei Akiva Switzerland chaverim have made aliya as a result of being in the youth movement. Today, Bnei Akiva Switzerland has more than 120 members in the two chapters (snifim), in Basel and Zurich. Geneva used to have its own chapter, but was closed by the parent organization in Israel because of a lack of interested members. Bnei Akiva is the biggest Jewish youth organization in Switzerland. Due to the lack of a Jewish high school in Switzerland, Bnei Akiva fulfills an important role as a regular meeting place. It is a vital entity that allows high-school students, who do not see each other on a daily basis, to stay in contact with their Jewish friends. Every year there are two camps, one in summer and one in winter. Additionally, the two oldest shvatim ("tribes") join the Sayarim summer camp (a camp in which usually the oldest shevet of chapters all over Europe take part) on a biannual basis, followed by a four-week Israel trip the following year. A number of Shabbatonim take place throughout the year, such as the Yom Yerushalayim weekend.
Bnei Akiva UK
Bnei Akiva in the UK was founded in 1936. Its beginnings were closely associated with Bachad and the Torah Va'Avodah movement, which both encouraged aliya. Arieh Handler was the main figure in the early growth of Bnei Akiva, as he brought over children from Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport and placed them in Bachad Hachshara (preparation) centres. These aimed to prepare the youth to work the Land of Israel on kibbutzim by learning agricultural techniques. The first of these was at Gwrych Castle, which held the first-ever gathering of Bnei Akiva UK in December 1940. After the local Marquis shut down the centre and expelled the Jewish immigrants, other hachshara centres were set up in Bromsgrove, Buckinghamshire and the most famous, Thaxted, Essex.
Many Kibbutzim, including Lavi and Beit Rimon, were founded by members of BAUK. In modern times, hachshara takes place in Israel and involves two schemes: Torani (the yeshiva and seminary track) and Lehava (giving participants a range of experiences in Israel). Bnei Akiva is the leading provider of gap years to Israel for 18-year-olds in the UK.
Today, Bnei Akiva is the largest Jewish youth movement in the country, with more than 1,000 members paying Mas Chaver (membership) each year. It is run by five full-time sabbatical workers who work in the London Bayit, the offices of Bnei Akiva UK. Bnei Akiva also brings over families of shlichim (emissaries) from Israel, one serving as the Bnei Akiva rabbinical couple and one serving the northern communities. The mazkirut and shlichim together with the nivcharim [elected representatives], who are elected by the movement's members each year, form the Hanhalla [governing body].
Bnei Akiva runs 28 svivot (branches) around the UK. They run activities on Shabbat afternoons as well as running Succah Crawls, Family Friday Nights and Shabbatot Ha'Irgun. This year, there are active Bnei Akiva groups in Accrington, Barnet, Belmont, Birmingham, Borehamwood & Elstree, Brondesbury Park, Bushey, Cheadle, Chigwell, Edgware United, Edgware Yeshurun, Finchley, Golders Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Hendon, Kenton, Kingsbury, Leeds, Maida Vale, Mill Hill, Pinner, Radlett, Redbridge, Salford, Southgate, South Hampstead, South Woodford, Stamford Hill, Stanmore, Whitefield and Woodside Park. Previous Svivot which have now closed include Hale, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Sunderland and Bowdon. The svivot mostly operate in local synagogues, however Bnei Akiva has two purpose-built buildings to house activities in London and Salford.
Bnei Akiva runs summer and winter camps (machanot) from school years 6–12. The winter camps include Aleph (Years Six & Seven), Ma'apilim (Year Eight), Haroeh (Year Nine), Gimmel (Year Ten) and Hadracha Course (Year Twelve). H-Course is a long-running leadership training camp which gives participants the skills to become the future leaders of the movement.
Summer camps include Aleph (Year Six), Aleph Chalutzi (Year Seven), Bet Base (Year Eight), Bet Chalutzi (Year Nine) and Gimmel (Year Ten). For Year 11, there is Israel Machane, a monthlong tour visiting sites in Israel. In 2011, Machane Cadur Regel (Football Camp) was initiated for years 3–5 in partnership with Arsenal Football Club. Bnei Akiva also runs the widely acclaimed Yachad programme, which caters for children with disabilities who want to be involved in camps.
In addition, there is a Beit Midrash Programme (BMP) which runs in conjunction with the other camps every summer. In recent years, Bnei Akiva has teamed up with Kaytana to run camps for Ethiopian children in Israel and also with Camp Simcha UK to run Keshet camp in London for children with serious illnesses. More than 1,000 people are involved in Bnei Akiva camps each year, making it the biggest provider of Jewish youth group camps in the UK.
Bnei Akiva UK actively supports projects in memory of Yoni Jesner who was heavily involved with the Glasgow branch of Bnei Akiva. He died from a critical head injury following a suicide bus bombing in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Bnei Akiva Mexico
Bnei Akiva in Mexico was founded in 1948. It is located in Mexico City, with three chapters and one main house, which is the center of activities.There are more than 100 active members in the movement and a large population of non-active members, those who have grown too old for the youth groups, or those who have "made Aliya" (moved to Israel). Bnei Akiva members are involved in community service such as participating in its institutions, studying in Jewish day schools, Hebrew schools and Yeshivot, and participating in Chessed activities (community service).
Bnei Akiva New Zealand
Bnei Akiva is one of the main Jewish youth movements in New Zealand, with weekly meetings and activities in Auckland and Wellington and national bi-annual camps. Bnei Akiva NZ's goal is to educate Jewish youth with the values of Torah ve'Avodah, combining a deeply rooted association with Israel together with day-to-day life in accordance with traditional Jewish values, and to provide stimulating experiential and informal opportunities for encountering Judaism. Bnei Akiva NZ ensures Jewish continuity and the future of the New Zealand Jewish community. Bnei Akiva New Zealand is a member of the Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC).Website of Bnei Akiva New Zealand.
Bnei Akiva of North America
Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada (known before 1993 as Bnei Akiva of North America) was formed with the 1950 merger between Hashomer Hadati and Bnei Akiva. It has several tiers of organization. At its most basic level, Bnei Akiva operates on a local level with glilim (cities), which often contain one or more snifim (branches) where youth groups are run on Shabbat. Most glilim are run by shlichim, (emissaries) from Israel, usually young couples. The first Bnei Akiva galil in America, technically belonging to Hashomer Hadati, was organized in Brooklyn by Meir Golombek in 1934, with additional glilim forming around young leaders throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s at a time when very little Zionist education was available in the United States. The level of activity in any given galil has fluctuated over the years depending on the level of leadership present.
In 2000, in an attempt to help glilim that were without their own shlichim, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada formally added an additional regional infrastructure, with shlichim appointed to serve in a regional role and coordinate activities in several glilim. The first such regional shaliach, for the Midwest, was Ilan Frydman.
In additional to the galil-based organization of Bnei Akiva, a second focus of activities in Bnei Akiva of the US&C are the summer camps, known as Camp Moshava. The first Moshava, in Hightstown, NJ, was established in 1936, with a second one opening in Rolling Prairie, Indiana in 1938 and a third in Bronte, Ontario in 1946. In 1947, a fourth Moshava began operating in Saugos, CA. Camp Stone, the fifth Moshava, began operating as a Bnei Akiva camp in conjunction with Young Israel in 1972. (Stone operated for three years without direct involvement from Bnei Akiva, from 1969-1972) Currently, the New York camp is located in Indian Orchard, PA, the Midwest Moshava moved to Wild Rose, WI, and the Canadian Moshava relocated to Ennismore, Ontario. The California Moshava currently operates out of Running Springs, CA, after a long hiatus following the 1985 sale of their Big Bear, CA campus. Bnei Akiva also operates local day camps during the summer in New Jersey and Toronto. This follows the first attempt at such a program in Atlanta in the early 1990s. Attendance at Bnei Akiva summer programs is typically larger than participation in glilim, though many chanichim and madrichim are active in both frameworks.
Additionally, there are several national programs that are run by Bnei Akiva of the US&C, most notably Mach Hach Baaretz, a six-week tour of Israel following 10th grade which attracts many participants who are not otherwise involved with Bnei Akiva. This program was started in 1972 by members in Los Angeles, and has grown to be one of the most successful and popular programs offered by Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada. Another program, Machal, which is for graduates of 9th grade, was originally a national program but is now run out of each camp separately. Various national shabbatonim are run by the national office, including Kenes Manhigei Chevraya Bet (KMCB) which brings together some of the most promising young high school leaders for extra training.
Jennifer van Amerongen is currently serving as Merakezet Chinuch (Coordinator of Education). Ariel Shields and Michal Laub are currently serving as Mazkirim Artzi (National Directors of Programming) of Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada.
Bnei Akiva of Boston
Bnei Akiva Boston has two active Snifim: Sharon Bnei Akiva in Young Israel of Sharon, and Newton Bnei Akiva (NBA) as a joint program between Congregations Beth El-Atereth Israel and Shaarei Teillah. Bnei Akiva Boston recommenced activity in September 2007 after a decade-long hiatus. As of 2017, Sharon Bnei Akiva operates its weekly activities on Shabbat afternoons for 2-8th grade children while NBA operates on Shabbat afternoons in the Fall/Spring and Motzei Shabbat in the winter.
Bnei Akiva of Chicago
Bnei Akiva of Chicago was established in 1935 is one of the largest glilim in the country. Chicago hosts several local and regional shabbatonim each year. Galil Chicago has four snifim named Saad, Tirat Tzvi, Lakeview and Kfar Tzion. Chaverim from Chicago traditionally attend Camp Moshava, Wild Rose, WI, in the summers, and that Moshava is most associated with Galil Chicago. It is part of the Midwest Region.
Bnei Akiva of Cleveland
Bnei Akiva Cleveland currently has more than 100 members, counting chanichim and madrichim. The city hosts a number of annual activities including a Purim Carnival and Sukkot Festival, as well as a number of community programs such as Musicians Towers (prayers led by Bnei Akiva in a nursing home for the major Jewish holidays). The current shlichim in Cleveland are Yosef and Efrat Cashdan, with two additional Bnot Sherut. Members of Bnei Akiva Cleveland typically attend Camp Stone in the summer, and that camp's headquarters is located in Cleveland. Galil Cleveland is part of the Midwest Region.
Bnei Akiva of Detroit
Bnei Akiva has been operating in Detroit since 1950. Bnei Akiva has three snifim that meet every Shabbat: at the Young Israel of Oak Park, at the Young Israel of Southfield and at Ohel Moed of Shomrey Emunah in West Bloomfield. Many members of Bnei Akiva of Detroit have moved to Israel, and one former shaliach, Otniel Schneller, previously served in the Knesset.The current shaliach is Yonatan Edrei, who lives in Oak Park, MI. Galil Detroit is in the Midwest Region, and campers primarily attend Camp Stone.
Bnei Akiva of Hamilton
Bnei Akiva of Hamilton is run by Mazkir Galil, Zev Wiesenthal.
Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles
Bnei Akiva Los Angeles (BALA), founded in 1946, is one of the oldest and most active glilim in North America. BALA has four snifim spread throughout Los Angeles, each named after a prominent religious kibbutz: Snif Lavi (Tarzana), Snif Tirat Tzvi (North Hollywood), Snif Sa'ad (Hancock Park), and Snif Shluchot (Beverly Hills). Each snif holds weekly programming on Shabbatot for chanichim ranging from 2nd through 5th grade. In addition to its four snifim, BALA holds frequent events and programming for Vazach (sixth through eighth grade) and Chevraya Bet (high school). BALA also runs a Manhigut (leadership) program for ninth graders, in which budding Bnei Akiva leaders learn valuable leadership skills in preparation for joining the hadracha staff the following year. After a period of stagnation and low participation in the 2000s, BALA has undergone a significant revival in recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of beloved former shlichim Eyal Fridman and Toby Tabak, who began their tenure in 2013 and were replaced in 2017 by Hagai and Adina Keisar. BALA will continue its growth in the coming year under the leadership of Mazkirei Galil Eytan Merkin and Naomi Weberman.
Bnei Akiva of Montreal
Bnei Akiva of Montreal is divided into two branches, one called Beth Israel and the other called Baily. It also runs annual programs such as Purim celebrations and Shabbatonim It is led primarily by the students of Hebrew Academy and other schools as well. The current shlicha in Montreal is Shira Tauber. Bnei Akiva Montreal runs weekly and monthly activities, educational training and Inter-city Shabbatonim.
Bnei Akiva Northeast
Bnei Akiva of Northeast (BANE), the oldest galil in North America, has hundreds of members in 10 chapters across the region. In 1954, Rabbi Meir Kahane, became the mazkir (director) of Greater New York's sixteen chapters. BANE has weekly programs in New Jersey (in Teaneck, Fair Lawn, Englewood and Tenafly) and New York (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Riverdale in the Bronx, Scarsdale in Westchester, and West Hempstead and North Woodmere in Long Island). BANE also runs Shabbatonim and special events throughout the year for youth who are connected to Camp Moshava in Indian Orchard, Pennsylvania. Additional programs are run for college students, and largely focus on a commitment to live in the Land of Israel.
Bnei Akiva of Philadelphia
Bnei Akiva of Philadelphia maintains three snifim: Northeast Philadelphia, Lower Merion and Cherry Hill, NJ. Galil Philadelphia prides itself on its dedicated and spirited core of madrichim. It is part of the Mid-Atlantic Region, and hosts a range of exciting activities and Shabbatonim each year while receiving guidance from college-aged bogrim. While the Northeast branch has been in existence for decades, Snif Lower Merion began weekly Shabbat programming in September 2003 under the leadership of Chava Forman. In September 2012, Galil Philadelphia added a third snif in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Bnei Akiva of Pittsburgh
An active galil existed in Pittsburgh through the 1960s, when it became dormant. Activities resumed in 2005. Currently, Bnei Akiva of Pittsburgh operates a weekly snif out of the Shaare Torah synagogue. In addition, Bnei Akiva sponsors monthly social activities such as scavenger hunts, matza baking and trips to the movies. There is a special leadership program for 9th graders called Manhigut, which helps prepare them to be madrichim. It is a member of the Bnei Akiva Midwest region.
Bnei Akiva of Silver Spring
Bnei Akiva of Silver Spring is part of the Mid-Atlantic Region and is the only galil in Maryland. Bnei Akiva of Silver Spring, also known as BASS, runs biweekly Shabbat programming at Kemp Mill Synagogue for grades 3rd-6th as well as special ZA"CH activities for grades 7th-8th. As the only chapter of Bnei Akiva in the area, BASS is responsible for the annual Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut Tekes for the Greater Washington area at the Berman Hebrew Academy as well as other community youth activities. The current Roshei Snif are Aliza Mintz and Noa Ferziger and the current Roshei ZA"CH and Ariella Wolf and Zachary Goldberg.
Bnei Akiva of St. Louis
Bnei Akiva St. Louis was founded in 2008. It has one snif. Notable members of hadracha include Rosh Zach Jacob Feit Mann and Rosh Melechet Yad Eitan Oberlander.
Bnei Akiva of Toronto
Bnei Akiva of Toronto was started in 1935 and maintains a strong presence in the city. Bnei Akiva of Toronto is known for being the biggest galil in the world outside of Israel. There are four snifim (BAYT, Or Chaim, Shaarei Shamayim and Kehilla Centre) with more than 100 children attending on Shabbat afternoon, as well as programming for grades 2-12 and university students (Bogrim) throughout the year. There is also the Bnei Akiva-run camp Moshava Ennismore just outside Toronto, along with a day camp, Moshava Ba'ir Toronto, run in the city. Toronto houses the only Bnei Akiva yeshiva outside Israel, Yeshivat Or Chaim with Ulpanat Orot, forms Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto. Currently, Etan and Nili Zivan are the shlichim of Bnei Akiva of Toronto. Bnei Akiva Toronto is a member of the Midwest Region.
Additional cities with active Bnei Akiva chapters include Atlanta, Baltimore, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Hollywood, FL, Houston, Potomac, Silver Spring and Washington. In the past, there have been several other chapters, including Boca Raton, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Gap Year Programming
For the 2014-2015 year, Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada launched a seminary and a yeshiva program in Israel called Midreshet Torah V'Avodah and Yeshivat Torah V'Avodah. In the words of the programs' website, www.tvaisrael.org, "Along with several months of focused in-depth Torah study in an Israeli yeshiva or midrasha setting, TVA will open you up to Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael through targeted internships, intense volunteering and service learning, living and working on Kibbutz, exploring pivotal issues facing the future of the Jewish people, rigorous spoken-Hebrew language training, and exciting tiyulim throughout the year. All of these experiences will be infused with rigorous Torah learning while living in apartments in the dynamic community of Katamon in Jerusalem."
In the past, Bnei Akiva operated several other Gap Year programs. Until the 1980s members of BAUS&C participated in Hachshara. In the early 1990s, a program called Midrash Uma'aseh existed and drew many of the most involved members of Bnei Akiva. Since 1982, Bnei Akiva has offered a program called Tochnit Nissan for members studying in Israel during the month of Nissan. Traditionally, this program took place on a kibbutz, though other options are now offered.
Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada actively promotes aliya, but the way in which this occurs has changed over the years. Until the 1990s, chanichim were encouraged to make aliya in garinim, or small groups intended to bolster existing communities. These were almost always directed to a Kibbutz Hadati, and fierce debates took place as to whether any other form of aliya was a valid expression of the movement's ideals. Today the push for aliya is more general, with no specific communities or framework in mind. The focus is more on coming to Israel and contributing positively to society in any way.
Bnei Akiva South Africa
Bnei Akiva's presence in South Africa dates back to the 1920s. Today, it is one of the largest active Jewish youth movements in the country. It runs many Shabbatonim as well as weekly activities at its various centres on the country. Bnei Akiva runs a month-long annual summer camp in the Western Cape, which is attended by more than 1,000 chanichim (campers) and madrichim (counselors). There is also a winter camp held in different locations each year, and is attended by youth from all over South Africa. The movement also runs many Israel programs throughout the year including MTA, Tafnit, Hadracha Tzeira, Kfar Haroeh and Bema'aleh.
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