Habonim Dror is a Socialist-Zionist Jewish Youth Movement which, as an integral part of the Israeli Kibbutz Movement, undertakes the mission of taking responsibility for the Jewish people, the Israeli society and the world. The founding principle of Habonim Dror is to create a framework which enables young people to educate their peers and together, to promote their ideological and educational goals.
Habonim Dror's official Semel was adopted in 1981 with the merger of both Habonim Ichud and Dror youth movements. It was launched at the first World Veida (conference) in March 1983 and has been the world movement's Semel ever since. The Semel was designed by a Kibbutz Nir Am member, Reuven Nachon, and combines elements from both movements' symbols and values.
offers everyone an amazing opportunity to live and experience Israel for real. Our Israel programs allow young Jewish and non-Jewish young-adults from all over the world to do what they love, in Israel.
Shnat is the flagship Habonim Dror’s Gap Year leadership program in Israel. Participants get to explore and engage with Israelis, grow personally and prepare for leadership roles in their home movements while strengthening their connection with Israel and deepening their understanding.
will get you the authentic life on Kibbutz, together with intense Hebrew learning. Visit WeKibbutz for more details.
offers you a tailor-made program, based on what interests you. Internship, volunteering or studying in different parts of Israel. Visit WeKibbutz for more details.
Since its beginning, Habonim Dror's work is inspired by the same main values guiding it until today. These are Judaism, Zionism, Socialism and Hagshama.
A Little Bit of History
Habonim-Dror is a Socialist-Zionist Jewish youth movement, formed by the 1982 merger of Habonim and Dror youth movements. Both movements had a rich history, traditions and a long line of alumni.
Habonim was founded in London in 1929 and spread to various countries around the world including South Africa and India. Dror was founded in 1911 in Poland and spread around Europe. Dror's members were socially active and took part in some of the most dramatic events of modern Jewish history including the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April 1943.
Both movements joined together and formed a prosperous movement that was active during the years in over 37 countries. Today Habonim Dror have 14 active countries in 6 continents around the world
Habonim was founded in Stepney, which was the poor area of the East End of London. Wellesley Aron’s first contribution was in writing various early memoranda to the Zionist Federation and to the existing Jewish Youth organizations. These suggested how a “Jewish Youth Cultural Movement” could be organized for children aged between 12 to 18.
Before Habonim was named in spring 1929, Chaim (actual name Hyman S.) Lipshitz had held regular organized meetings of a group of boys in his father’s Cheder (school room), which considered to be a little more progressive than others, and thus appealed to the young teens even more.
Lipshitz incorporated new, varied content; he taught Modern Hebrew along with songs and dances of Jewish settlers in Palestine and Jewish history. Lipshitz was assisted by Norman Lourie, a visitor from South Africa who had previously visited Palestine.
The aim of these group meetings was to attract and better educate the Jewish children of immigrants from Poland and Russia (mostly pre-1905, when immigration to the U.K. was severely limited), about their Jewish history and the progress of the Jews presently living in Palestine. The first meeting of leaders of the Jewish youth community that Wellesley Aron reported, was in a letter to Dr. S. Brodetsky (of the Zionist Foundation) on 11 January 1929. Wellesley mentioned that only 5 people attended, but that Norman Lourie (the third founder) called a larger meeting for the following week (10 January) where listed representatives from at least 7 Jewish youth organizations were present. This meeting was in London at 77 Great Russel Street EC1. England at this time was the center of political Zionism, after the Balfour Declaration in 1917 had stated that “His Majesty’s Government favourably viewed the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine” (then under British mandate).
The new youth movement Habonim (or the Builders) was deliberately made non-Zionist (and became Zionist only after 1935). In 1929, the first Gedud Trumpeldor (Trumpeldor Group) was built into Lipshitz's existing group of youngsters in Stepney. Lipshitz was its Rosh (head or leader), with assistance from Norman Lourie and advise and Hebrew terminology being developed through a committee run by Wellesley Aron.
In May 1929 the first 27-page hand-booklet detailing how Habonim was to function was published by Wellesley with help in the mimeographing from Norman Lourie and his lady friend Nadia, who he later married. They both returned to Norman’s home country South Africa in 1930, to establish Habonim branches in various towns and countries in the continent, as well as in India.
The Movement grew very rapidly. In London alone there were 21 groups by 1932. The Movement had at least 2500 members by the time of their 10 year “Jamboree Camp” in 1939. The various Gedudim (groups) were initially single sex (like the Scouting Movement,) but were soon changed for boys and girls together. Associated, but not part of the Movement, were training farms for the older members, to learn about agriculture and life on kibbutz, to which their Aliyah (immigration to Eretz Yisrael) would eventually lead. According to Aron, he modeled Habonim after Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts. The idea soon spread to other English-speaking countries and ex-colonies where Jews resided.
In 1930 Norman Lourie founded Habonim Southern Africa, with the first camp taking place at Parys in 1931. In the 1950's Habonim had spread worldwide including to Australia. ‘Ichud Habonim’ – ‘Habonim Union’ – was born in Haifa on September 1, 1951 on the Ichud movement Veida (General Committee) that included representatives from Britain, America, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Holland and the combined movement from Israel.
At the committee, representatives from Habonim Australia were also present. Together, they declared the birth of the world movement that was developed from the combination of all Habonim movements worldwide. After 25 years of activity of all the separate Habonim movements, a common base of activity and assistance was established. The movement grew from strength to strength each year and on 1944 started operating in South America and made Habonim present on all continents.
Graduates of Habonim contributed significant manpower to the establishment of many Kibbutzim in Israel, among them Kfar Blum, Beit Haemek, Mevo Hama, Tuval, Amiad, Kfar Hanassi, Gesher Haziv and Tzora.
In 1911, in Poland, the Jewish youth movements rose. The Jewish youth organized themselves into movements according to different streams, for example Hashomer, Hachalutz and Blau Weiss. Years later, after the Uganda Debate and after the dismissal of Herzl, a new generation rose in Zionism and developed into different divisions under many different names, the most popular of which being Tzeirei Tzion (Young Zionists). Out of Tzeirei Tzion in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, emerged a group that called itself the ‘Et livnot’ – ‘time to build’ and whose aim was to continue Herzl’s way.
At the Petersburg Veida, which was a Veida for the entire Russian Zionist movement, it was decided that the Zionist community was of religious character. Et Livnot demanded that the secular community be validated, and together with other youth movements left the room. Upon returning to Kiev they officially declared their distinction from the religious National Organisation of Russian Zionism and developed a Democratic Union called ‘Dror’ – ‘Freedom’ in 1915.
Dror was not a mass movement, however at all stages of its development it excelled in central Zionist thought. It was both vibrant and invigorating, educating the Jewish intellectual youth in Russia and eventually in Poland through intellectual activities. Dror was both modern and revolutionary in its character and aims. The spiritual father of Dror was Ze’ev Zlickin, nicknamed ‘Valia’, who was influenced by the teachings of the movement “Nadorobolchi” which gave rise to revolutionary Socialism in Russia.
The Dror movement developed different Chugim according to different ages. The youth (under the age of 20) belonged to the Shichvah “El Hamishmar” for all their lives as members of Dror. They were commited to the movement. Dror educated them and brought them to the movement ‘Hachalutz Hatzair’ – ‘the Young Pioneer’ (led by Yitzchak Tabenkin) and through this movement they came to Eretz Israel and Kibbutz. This created a link between Dror and the ‘Hityashvut’ (‘Settlement’ movement) and thus a partnership with Degania and Rehavia.
In 1925 a contingency from the Histadrut (Workers’ Union) in Palestine, mostly from Kibbutz Ein Harod, was sent to Hechalutz in Poland. This contingency was instrumental in the development of Hachalutz in Poland and thus also re-injected life into Dror. By the 1930s, the centre of Dror was in Warsaw, Poland. From there, with the help of Shlichim, the movement spread throughout the map of Europe to other Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and even in South America.
With the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and the breakout of the Second World War, these youth movements were involved in actions against the Germans and were involved in big uprisings in cities such as Bialistock, Vilna, Warsaw and many other cities throughout Europe. In Warsaw the Jewish Fighters’ Brigade together with Hechalutz, Dror, Hashomer Hatzair and other youth movement, fought in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943. Graduates of Dror made aliyah to Palestine, fought as partisans and in the Jewish brigade. The joined groups joined many kibbutzim throughout Israel. This took place both before and after the declaration of the State of Israel.
Amongst the youth movement members training groups were built which eventually developed into Garinei Aliya to many kibbutzim in the ‘Kibbutz Hame’uchad’ movement. In the 1940s there was major cooperation in the formation of common Garinim by the movements Hechalutz and Habonim, particularly in Hungary, with the help of Shlichim from Kibbutz Hame'uchad. At this time there was major criticism of this cooperation due to differing ideological attitudes towards the Yishuv in Israel – its social character, economics, and the return to Jewish work in Israel.
The movement Ichud Habonim and the movement Dror were active in different countries, and each identified with a different stream of the kibbutz movements. In 1952, the segmentation of the Kibbutz Hame'uchad movement developed into a new kibbutz movement in Israel, “Ichud Hakibbutzim Ve Hakvutzot”. This movement combined the groups and kibbutzim and separated from the Me'uchad kibbutz movement on an ideological basis. Whole families were split and some kibbutzim were divided ideologically between the two movements, such as Ein Harod, Givat Chaim, Ashdot Ya’akov and many more. The youth movement for Kibbutz Hame'uchad was Dror, and the youth movement from Ichud Hakibbutzim was Ichud Habonim.
In 1980, the reunification of the two kibbutz movements under one name, the “Takam”, led to the parallel combination the different movements under one name, “Habonim Dror”. Since then, the movement has operated as one body and at each world Veida challenges its direction and redefines its activities to suit its ideology in the Diaspora.
Famous graduates of the two movements include Golda Meir, Mike Leigh, Mordechai Richler, Jonathan Freedland, Stanley Fischer, Chaim Herzog, Tony Judt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Seth Rogen, Noah Beresin (a.k.a. Xaphoon Jones) of Chiddy Bang, Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, producers of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Alexander Bickel, Leonard Fein (columnist of The Forward and founding editor of Moment), J.J. Goldberg (editor-in-chief of The Forward), David Twersky (columnist with the New York Sun), Aaron Naparstek, Matt Witten, Mark Regev, Shuli Egar, Guy Spigelman, Tooker Gomberg, Baroness Deech, Jack Markell (the governor of Delaware), Kenneth Bob, Toba Spitzer, Ron Bloom and Jaques Wagner (the governor of Bahia, Brazil).
Habonim Around The World
Habonim Dror is present today in 37 countries on all continents and brings hundreds of participants from all over the world to experience Israel themselves on a variety of programs. To learn more, please visit WeKibbutz official website.
Habonim Dror sends Israeli Shlichim every year to various Jewish communities, to assist with Israeli education.
A LETTER FROM THE MAZKIR
I was greatlly honoured for having been chosen to be Mazkir of World Habonim Dror.
My name is Yochai Wolfin and I was born in 1970 in Port Elisabeth, South Africa, where my father Aryeh was a Shaliach for Ichud Habonim. In 1981, I spent 2 years in London, where my family was on Shlichut Aliya for the Jewish Agency. While there, I went to the Jewish Free School and was very active in the local Habonim Dror branch. Prior to my army service I did Shnat Sherut in the branch of HaNoar HaOved in Haifa, and after the army I again worked for HaNoar HaOved for 1 year in the Kibbutz sector. I did my army service in Nachal Mutznach and underwent an officers course in Bahad Echad, after which I served as a commanding officer. In 1995 I was sent with my family on Shlichut for Habonim Dror for two years in Capetown, South Africa.
My Habonim background is extensive in my family as my father, Aryeh, is a graduate of British Habonim. He came on Aliya to Kfar Hanassi with his Gar'in in 1958.
I am greatly looking forward to commencing the task that I was chosen for.