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Jewish Youth Movements in Israel and Abroad

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Last Updated on September 23, 2021

Youth movements in Israel and abroad are part of the story of the Jewish people.

From their early beginnings, youth movements have played an important part in the story of the Jewish people.  Their purpose is to raise Jewish consciousness and instill Zionism.  For new olim, they are a wonderful environment to make new and long-standing friendships.
Did you know that most Jewish youth movements were established in Eastern Europe towards the beginning of the twentieth century? A revival of  the Jewish people in their homeland was the main motivation for their establishment.
We’ve all heard of Bnei Akiva, Habonim-Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Tzofim (scouts).  There is also Young Judea, the oldest youth movement in the USA.
BETAR (the initials of Brit Yosef Trumpeldor, Joseph Trumpeldor Alliance), the educational youth movement of the Revisionist Zionist Organization and, subsequently, the Herut movement, was established in December 1923 in Riga, Latvia. BETAR has over 20,000 members world-wide
BLAU-WEISS (Blue-White) was the first Jewish youth movement established in Germany (1912).  It was disbanded in 1929.
BNEI AKIVA, a religious Zionist youth movement, was founded in Jerusalem in 1929.  It has more than 110,000 members worldwide.
DROR, a Socialist Zionist movement founded before World War I in Russia, promoted national and socialist values as well as Jewish culture DROR merged with Hehalutz Hatza’ir.
EZRA, a religious youth movement named for the biblical prophet Ezra, was founded in Germany in 1919. An apolitical movement, EZRA has around 10,000 members altogether.
GORDONIA, was a Zionist pioneering youth movement named for Aaron David Gordon, a philosopher of Labor Zionism.  It no longer exists today.
HABONIM, a Zionist youth movement which aimed to foster Jewish culture, the Hebrew language, and pioneering in Palestine, was founded in 1930 in London and affiliated with the Zionist Labor Movement. In later years it additional branches in the United States, South Africa, India, and Israel, were established  The Habonim Union was the merger of several youth movements in 1958.  Many of its members have gone on to establish kibbutzim in Israel.
HANOAR HA’OVED, a movement for working teenagers, was established in 1926 by the Histadrut (General Federation of Jewish Labor).  Together with its affiliated movements; Hanoar Haleumi Ha’oved Vehalomed and Hanoar Hadati Ha’oved Vehalomed it has over 80,000 members.
HASHOMER HATZA’IR, the oldest existing Jewish youth movement in the world, was founded in Poland (1913-1914).  Today, Hashomer Hatza’ir functions as a youth movement in towns, villages and kibbutzim in Israel, as well as in many Diaspora communities, with a membership of 14,000 in Israel and 15,000 abroad.
HANOAR HATZIONI, a pioneering Zionist youth movement, was founded in Poland in 1932. A small movement, strives to inculcate its members with a pioneering, pluralistic outlook and has some 2,000 members.
HATZOFIM (Hebrew Scouts Federation) was founded in Palestine in 1919 in accordance with the views of Baden-Powell, the founder of world scouting.  Hatzofim has some 40,000 members in Israel.
HEHALUTZ, a worldwide federation of Zionist youth first came into being in the early twentieth century. Between the world wars, Hehalutz associations spread throughout Eastern, Central, and Western Europe; northern Africa; North and South America; and South Africa; they were strongest in Poland.  Today, the movement is only active in South America.
MACCABI HATZA’IR, a pioneering Zionist youth movement, was founded in Germany in 1926 and It  formed the basis of the World Maccabi organization (the international Jewish sports organization)
HAMAHANOT HA’OLIM, a pioneering movement of teenagers in Palestine, stressed defense and personal fulfillment.  It too has undergone many changes over the years and today it has some 3,000 members.
YOUNG JUDAEA, the oldest Jewish youth movement in the United States, was founded in 1909 by the Zionist Organization of America. Young Judea promotes Zionism, encourages Jewish youth in their spiritual development, and fosters Jewish culture and identity. Today the movement, operates in conjunction with Hebrew schools in the USA and Canada.
MAGSHIMEY HERUT (Hebrew: “achievers of liberty”) a relatively new movement, was founded in 1999. It’s an activist movement of young adults dedicated to social justice, the unity of the Hebrew nation and integrity of the Land of Israel. It works in conjunction with the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish National Fund.
NOAM (No’ar Masorti or Masorti Youth) is a 2,000-member strong national youth movement, where children between the ages of 10 – 18, are educated in the Masorti values of egalitarian Judaism, Zionism, democracy and pluralism.
Did your affiliation with a Jewish youth movement influence your decision to make Aliyah?
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