Bnei Akiva: Wikis

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A modern version of Bnei Akiva's Logo (semel)

Bnei Akiva (Hebrew: בני עקיבא‎) (lit: Akiva's children) is the largest religious Zionist youth movement in the world, with over 125,000 members in 37 countries. It was established in Mandate Palestine in 1929.

Contents

History

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 Palestine, 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.

Ideology

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 clearly 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.

Organizational framework

In Israel, Bnei Akiva is affiliated with The 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.

In every country, Bnei Akiva operates a network of Shabbat groups, summer camps, leadership seminars, Shabatonim, and other activities.

Symbols of Bnei Akiva

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The Emblem

The South African version of Bnei Akiva's emblem (semel)

The "Semel", Bnei Akiva's emblem, is made up of different objects each relating to a different aspect of the group's ideology. The farming utensils and the wheat sheaves relate to the original agricultural perspective of the ideology. The two tablets of stone in the center relate to 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").

The Anthem

The Bnei Akiva's anthem (himmnon in Hebrew), was composed by Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriya (originally known as Chaver Minkin). He composed the anthem during the Chol Hamoed period of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, 1932, at a gathering of youth leaders in Kfar Sava.

Although the words have changed somewhat, (and, in the beginning of the 1950s, the tune was also changed, possibly due to its similarity with the 'Bundistim' from Poland), there are very few Bnei Akiva occasions in which the anthem is not sung.

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 G-d, 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 G-d, we will go up,

Forward, Bnei Akiva, forward to the heights!

Lexicon Bnei Akiva

Hebrew Transliteration Literal translation Description
שבט Shevet Tribe Age group. A Shevet receives its name at age 14 approximately. The name remains with that shevet for ever.
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 emissarrys 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 Brazil

In Rio de Janeiro there are two snifim one in Copacabana (Snif Metzadah) and one in Tijuca (Snif Beit Yafah). Bnei Akiva's presence in São Paulo started in the 50s. Now it has two snifim, one in Jardins and one in Higienopolis. Bnei Akiva also have a snif in Belém. The activities of Bnei Akiva include Shabbatons, camp (each year there are two camps in São Paulo and two in Rio de Janeiro), many field trips, and commemorations of the Jewish holidays.

Bnei Akiva Canada

Bnei Akiva of Montreal is divided into two branches, one called Beth Israel and the other called Baily. This program has run many popular programs, such as Purim celebrations and Shabbatons. It is lead primarily by the students of Hebrew Academy and other schools as well. The current Shlicah in Montreal is Meytal Zviel.

Bnei Akiva of Toronto was started in 1925, and today has a strong presence in Toronto . There are 5 chapters (BAYT, Bnei Torah, KST, Or Chaim and Shaarei Shamayim) with over 200 children attending on shabbat afternoon, as well as programming for grades 3-12 throughout the year. Bnei Akiva Toronto is a member of the Midwest Region. There is also the Bnei Akiva run camp Moshava Enismore just outside Toronto. Toronto houses the only Bnei Akiva Yeshiva outside Israel, Yeshivat Or Chaim

Bnei Akiva Mexico

Bnei Akiva in Mexico was founded in 1948. It is located in Mexico City, there are three chapters and one main house, which is the center of activities. It counts around 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 Aliyah" (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).[1]

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 around the country. Bnei Akiva runs a month-long annual summer camp in the Western Cape, which is attended by over 1000 chanichim (campers) and madrichim (counselors). There is also a winter camp held in different locations each year, youth from all over South Africa attend this camp. The movement also runs many Israel programs - including MTA, Tafnit, Hadracha Tzeira, Kfar Haroeh and Bema'aleh - throughout the year.

Bnei Akiva Switzerland

Bnei Akiva Switzerland was founded some 70 years ago. Today, Bnei Akiva Switzerland has more than 120 members in the two chapters (snifim), in Basel and Zurich. Geneva used to have an 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. Currently they have Efrat Speaker as shlicha.

Bnei Akiva UK

Bnei Akiva was founded in the UK in 1939 by Aryeh Handler. One of its main goals is the Hachshara scheme, which prepares members for living out the Bnei Akiva ideology of Torah and Avodah in Israel. Originally, Hachshara consisted of learning agricultural techniques on farms in the UK, the most well-known was in Thaxted, Essex. Many Kibbutzim including Lavi and Bet 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).

Today, Bnei Akiva is the largest Jewish youth movement in the country. Bnei Akiva UK is run by a dedicated team known as the 'Mazkirut' and a Rabbinical Shaliach (emissary) from Israel.

Bnei Akiva runs 29 svivot (branches) around the UK. They run activities on Shabbat afternoons as well as running Succah Crawls, Family Friday Nights and Shabbat Ha'Irgun. This year, there are active Bnei Akiva groups in Barnet, Belmont, Birmingham, Borehamwood & Elstree, Brondesbury Park, Bushey, Cheadle, Chigwell, Edgware United, Edgware Yeshurun, Finchley, Golders Green, Hale, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Hendon, Leeds, Liverpool, Maida Vale, Mill Hill, Pinner, Radlett, Redbridge, Salford, Southgate, South Woodford, St. John's Wood, Stanmore, Whitefield and Woodside Park. Bnei Akiva also runs activities in other communities in the UK, especially provincial ones.

Bnei Akiva runs summer and winter camps (machanot) from school years 6-12. The winter camps include Aleph (Years 6 & 7), Ma'apilim (Year 8), Haroeh (Year 9), Gimmel (Year 10) and H-Course (Year 12). H (Hadracha) 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 6), Aleph Chalutzi (Year 7), Bet Base (Year 8), Bet Chalutzi (Year 9) and Gimmel (Year 10). For Year 11, there is Israel Machane, a camp touring sites in Israel for a month. The nationally-acclaimed Yachad programme caters for children with disabilities who want to be involved in camps.

In addition, there is a Beit Midrash Programme that 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 northern Israel and also with Camp Simcha to run Keshet camp in London for children with serious illnesses. Over 1000 people are involved in Bnei Akiva camps each year, making it the biggest provider of Jewish youth group camps in the UK.

Bnei Akiva USA

Bnei Akiva of Chicago has been a staple for Bnei Akiva in America since the 40's. Though the galil hit some rough times in the late 90's, it was resurrected in the early 2000s with the help of boger Yaakov Matanky z"l,and shaliach Eitan Avivi. They helped form what is now known as the Midwest Region of Bnei Akiva North America which is one of the largest regions in the country. The Midwest Region includes glilim Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto. Chicago hosts several local and Regional shabbatonim each year. Galil Chicago has three snifim named Saad, Tirat Tzvi and Kfar Tzion. Chaverim from Chicago traditionally attend Camp Moshava Wild Rose, WI, in the summers.

Since the 1950s, Bnei Akiva has been operating on and off in metropolitan Detroit. It is currently the home of Tzachy Chayun, the Midwest regional director, who lives in Oak Park, MI. Bnei Akiva has two branches that meet every Shabbat, at the Young Israel of Oak Park and at the Young Israel of Southfield. Numerous members of Bnei Akiva of Detroit have moved to Israel, and one former director, Otniel Schneller, is currently serving in the Knesset.

Bnei Akiva of Philadelphia is consistently recognized as one of the most vibrant glilim (regions) in North America. Maintaining two sniffim in Northeast Philadelphia and Lower Merion—a half hour drive apart—Galil Philadelphia prides itself on its dedicated and spirited core of madrichim that year in and year out allows the galil to sustain itself successfully. Part of the Mid-Atlantic Region, the two sniffim host a range of exciting activities and shabbatonim each year and receive 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 Rosh Snif Chava Forman. From its inception, the snif has been associated with Lower Merion Synagogue and has been lauded for its quick progress and rising popularity despite being one of the only sniffim in North America that is run completely by high-schoolers without the aid of shlichim or paid adults.

Bnei Akiva of New York and New Jersey (BANY) has hundreds of members in 10 chapters across the region. BANY has weekly programs in New Jersey (in Teaneck, Fair Lawn, and Tenafly) and New York (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Riverdale in the Bronx, and West Hempstead and North Woodmere in Long Island). BANY also runs Shabbatons 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. [1]

Although there was an active Bnei Akiva in Pittsburgh for many years, activities ceased in the 1960s, only to be resumed in the year 2005. Currently, Bnei Akiva of Pittsburgh operates weekly Snif out of the Shaare Torah synagogue. It is a member of the Bnei Akiva Midwest region (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, and Toronto) The Bnei Akiva youth group of Pittsburgh provides weekly Shabbat groups at Shaare Torah called Snif for the Jewish youth of Pittsburgh in grades 3-9. Snif provides a fun environment while instilling a love of Israel and Jewish values. In addition, Bnei Akiva sponsors monthly social activities. For example, on March 25h, Shevet Shvut (11th grade) had a scavenger hunt and trip to the movies, on March 25, Chevraya Aleph (grades 3-6) had a make your own matza activity, on March 29, Zach (grades 7-8) had a trip to Cyber Conxion. Bnei Akiva runs a special leadership program for Bnei Akiva Chanichim (participants) in 9th grade called Manhigut to help prepare them to be Madrichim (volunteer high school counselors in grades 10-12.) Bnei Akiva also offers leadership training for the Madrichim who volunteer several hours a week and act as counselors each Shabbat at Snif.[2]

Bnei Akiva Boston has two active Sniffim:Brookline Bnei Akiva in Young Israel of Brookline, and Newton Bnei Akiva (NBA)as a joint program between Beth El Aterth Israel and Shaarei Teillah. Bnei Akiva Boston began in September 2007. Today, Brookline Bnei Akiva operates its weekly activities on Shabbat morning for 2-6th grade children while NBA operates on Shabbat afternoons in the Fall/Spring and Motzei Shabbat in the winter. NBA runs many monthly events like Chanuka Carnivals, Purim Crnivals, Scavenger Hunts, Girls Nights, Movie Nights,and all-famous Mini-Shabatonim for approximately 70 chanichim in grades 3-6. Like BA Philadelphia, NBA is run completely by high-schoolers Bracha Robinson and Sarah Robinson without the aid of shlichim or paid adults.

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.

Camp Moshava

There are four Bnei Akiva Moshava camps in North America: in Indian Orchard, Pennsylvania, in Ennismore, Ontario, in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, and Camp Stone in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania. These four camps have moved locations a number of times over their existence, but traditionally there has been a camp on the East Coast, in Canada, in the Midwest (currently there are two), and a now-defunct West Coast camp.

In addition, there are specific programs for certain age groups. The Mach Hach B'Aretz program consists of six weeks in Israel, and brings Israel and Religious Zionism to life for 16-year-olds through seminars, visiting historical sites, kibbutzim, and meeting with Bnei Akiva members in Israel. On TVI (Torah V'Avodah Institute), Bnei Akiva’s National Leadership training seminar, participants are provided with the necessary skills to assume leadership in Bnei Akiva as madrichim in Camp Moshava and throughout the year. Through shiurim, discussions, and actually planning and implementing programs at the Indian Orchard Moshava, the 17 year old participants from across the country begin their transition from chanichim (campers) to madrichim (counselors), while also forming a national network of teenage leaders committed to Israel and Religious Zionism.

See also

References

External links


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