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 whole world. The founding principle of this movement is that young people educate their peers and that, in working together, they create an organized framework for ideological and educational purposes.
Habonim Dror is a unique and particular movement which has laid a common ground (Judaism, socialism and Zionism) in the 18 countries where it is present nowadays: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium, Turkey and South Africa. The movement incorporates the characteristics which are specific to each of these countries but it is still homogenous. We are not a “confederation of movements”, but International Movement.
Our Tnua serves as guidance for the Jewish youth on the basis of Shivyon Erech Ha’adam (equality of human value) as well as the humanist values inspired by the ideological founding principles included in this takanon. These values – such as equality, tikkun olam, democracy, social justice, collectivism – are not mere perspectives: they stand as an entire way of life based on the principles of chalutziut.
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The ideology below is split under different heading for clarity, but these headings are not separate ideologies, what is written below is one ideology with each part integral to the next. Each and every chaver/a embodies the spirit of Habonim Dror based on their experience and values gained in the movement. What is written below is an attempt to represent the spirit in words.
Habonim Dror stands up for Cultural Judaism, a holistic approach which conceives Judaism as a culture comprising religion and nationality as intertwined entities. Further to Habonim Dror’s conception of Judaism, we devised a Jewish education process based on cultural activities which profit from secular and religious sources and literature.
In Habonim Dror’s view, Judaism comprises Jewish wisdom, history and tradition, as well an array of moral values of the Jewish people. Our Movement acknowledges its duties to the Jewish community in Israel and the communities in each Ken where it is present, and is in constant pursuance of its two goals: strengthening the principles of Judaism and ensuring the continuity of the Jewish tradition.
We are Zionists because we believe that, as a people, we have the right to a nation of our own, and that Israel is the homeland to the Jewish people. Our Movement seeks to develop a society based on equality and democracy within a socialist framework in Israel. Therefore, we see alia chalutzit —the activist branch of alia — as the highest expression of the Zionist idea.
Habonim Dror is involved in Jewish-Zionist education, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, and is committed to develop Jewish Identity and to create the understanding that Israel is the centre of the Jewish World. It also seeks to encourage the various expressions of Israeli culture, thus contributing to develop, in our chaverim, a deep care and responsibility to the country, while strengthening all the above goals.
We also believe in the universal right to a homeland and this conviction translates into our actively support of the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own.
We advocate the principles of socialism because we believe that there is another way to reach our human aspirations for freedom, justice and equality. As an educational movement we believe in a humanistic education that forms people who are respectful, critical, love others, who understand the value of human worth and feel responsible for the society in which they live.
Habonim Dror believes in the Labour Zionist ideals that shaped the kibutzim, whether rural or urban, which are based on socialist principles; and so educates their chaverim to live in communities where those kvutzati values are upheld.
We also believe that the values listed below are at the core of the socialist cultural fulfillment: social justice, democracy, communal responsibility, humanism, equality, individual and group activism, freedom and environmental protection.
We educate our Chaverim to be active in order to seek political and social transformation of society in which they live. As for the realization of our socialist objectives, social intervention must be an integral part of life for our chanichim and madrichim, inside and outside the movement, both in Israel and the Galut.
Habonim Dror sees Hagshama Atzmit as the personal fulfillment process which leads individuals to achieve all the goals of the Movement and through which the chaver materializes the vision underpinning the ideas of the Habonim Dror Movement.
Habonim Dror encourages each chaver to face life inspired by the ideals upheld by the movement. Hagshama is not a final goal, but an ongoing process. Therefore, those who lead their lives consciously, in pursuit of their values and the values of the movement, and work to change the world according to their beliefs are participating in the Hagshama process.
Finally, the Movement believes that Alia Chalutzit i.e., in Israel, leading an active life to improve society, working to keep a significant Jewish identity, be social engaged living within a socialist framework based on the values described in this document, is the purest expression of Hagshama.
Habonim-Dror is a Socialist-Zionist Jewish youth movement, formed by the 1982 merger of Habonim and Dror youth movements. Habonim was founded in 1929 in London, England by Wellesley Aron, together with Chaim Lipshitz and Norman Lourie. Dror was formed by the unification of several zionist youth movements in Poland in 1915.
Unlike such organizions abroad, the movement was initially intended to be of a non-Zionist (non-political) kind. Although he claims it as early November 1928, Wellesley Aron’s first meetings and lectures about this idea were actually in early January 1929. No mention of these meetings is made in the weekly “Jewish Chronicle” or J.C. (Newspaper of the Jewish community) during 1928, except for one lecture on “Palestine” on 23 November, and not on the need for child-interest group formation.
Before Habonim was named in spring 1929, Chaim (actual name Hyman S.) Lipshitz as co-founder, had regular organized meetings of boys at his father’s Cheder (school room) and they were well established by December 1928. (Incidently this Cheder was one of the few more-progressive of these establishments, many were unattractive places that taught only traditional Hebrew and Torah.
The new youth movement Habonim (or the Builders) was deliberately made non-Zionist (and became Zionist only after 1935). In 1929 the first Gedud (group) Trumpeldor was built into Chaim’s existing group of youngsters in Stepney. Chaim 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 that continent and in India.
Graduates of Habonim contributed significant manpower to the establishment of many kibbutzim in Israel, among others, Kfar Blum, Kfar Hanasi, Beit Haemek, Mevo Hama, Tuval, Amiad, Kfar Hanassi ,Gesher Haziv and Tzora.
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 it 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 also to 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 Hameyuchad. 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.
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.