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A short story about the formation of Secular Zionist Summer Camps

Historically, laboring Zionistic summer camps throughout North America were founded upon the ideology of strengthening the Jewish community and moving towards “the Judaism of muscles” rather than that of strict religious and biblical followings. The ultimate goal was and remains, to bring Jewish youths to Israel to work the land and become “halutzim” (pioneers) and will eventually join the Kibbutzim - the agricultural-based socialist communities.

While some of these camps remain to this day, the number of them has decreased.Those camps that remain retain their positions regarding the fostering of the Jewish identity, the social and naturistic awareness of the world surrounding the halutzim while constantly tightening their connection to Israel alongside communal values - such are the building blocks of any Kibbutz.

In the 1920’s HaBonim Dror bought lands in Israel in order to teach the values of farming and agriculture, as well as mutual responsibility and self-reliance - all of which are crucial in order to empower the Jewish youths. Since the foundation of HaBonim Dror, they have embraced and celebrated the history of Zionism, the Hebrew language and other cultural customs: songs, dances and the ultimate wish to work the land and emerge from the old-fashioned form of Judaism - one which is identified with the study of the Torah, and HaBonim Dror offered the alternative of secular Judaism.

In the early 2000’s, HaBonim Dror decided to remodel their operations through the development of camps while hiring professionals to direct the operations as Madrichim (conselours) and Racazim (coordinators). Much of these developments can be attributed to the donations of HaBonim Dror alumni.

Now more than ever, during these difficult and uncertain times, when summer camps can not take place, at least not in person, due to strict health guidelines - people remain in their homes, without the ability to see others and pursue their usual summer plans, many feel alone as the world they once knew has changed (at least for the foreseeable future). It is imperative that the values of Zionism and secular Judaism are still taught and shown to the Jewish youth in order to retain the Aliyah of such youth and fulfill the vision of the late Theodor Herzl to work the land and move towards progressive Judaism. It is imperative that the Jewish youth are connected with others that share their beliefs in order to strengthen their feeling of belonging and Zionism - so that when the day will come, that our lives return to normalcy, they can all meet face to face, over pita bread with falafel on one of Tel Aviv’s famous beaches, or perhaps over a meal after a long days work in the Kibbutz.

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