IḤUD HABONIM


IḤUD HABONIM, largest pioneering youth movement of the labor Zionist movement, founded in 1958 with headquarters in Israel. Iḥud Habonim was established by the amalgamation of various youth movements around the world. It was composed of what was formerly Iḥud ha-No'ar ha-Ḥaluzi (ANAḤ) in Latin America, Western Europe, and North Africa (ANAḤ, in turn, was composed of Dror and *Gordonia in Latin America and Gordonia and Habonim in Western Europe and North Africa); World Habonim, which existed mostly in the English-speaking countries; and two Israel movements, Habonim Tenu'ah Me'uhedet and No'ar Oved. In the mid-1960s, Iḥud Habonim had about 20,000 members throughout the world, and graduates of the movement and its predecessors had established 22 kibbutzim in Israel, all of which were affiliated with *Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim, and belonged to a number of moshavim. Groups of Habonim graduates have also settled on kibbutzim of the Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim that were not originally established by Habonim graduates.

The world secretariat of Iḥud Habonim was located in Israel and coordinated the movement's activities around the world. The supreme governing body of the movement was the ve'idah (convention), with representatives from every national movement. Much of its work was carried on by the mo'aẓah olamit (world council), which had the same representation on a smaller scale, and the mazkirut olamit (world secretariat), which had two representatives from every national branch and met three times a year. The most active branches of the governing bodies were the mazkirut murḥevet (enlarged secretariat), which met every three weeks, and the mazkirut pe'ilah (the executive), which was based in Tel Aviv and met weekly. The executive was headed by the general secretary. The governing bodies of Iḥud Habonim were responsible for such activities as the choosing and sending of emissaries to the various national movements, the coordination and planning of programs of work and study in Israel for members coming from abroad, the direction of new settlers to kibbutzim, etc. Iḥud Habonim also published two publications: Binyan and Yesodot.

In 1982 Habonim merged with the Dror youth movement three years after the amalgamation of their parent movements – Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim and *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad. With the decline of traditional kibbutz ideology, emphasis in the movement shifted to the creation of urban kibbutzim, and from the late 1990s Habonim-Dror members

Iud Habonim

from around the world have associated themselves with such kibbutzim.

In Germany

Although Habonim in Germany ceased to exist at the end of World War II, and therefore did not survive to become part of Iḥud Habonim, the influence of this movement was substantial in both Europe and Palestine. Berit ha-Olim, formerly Jung Juedischer Wander-Bund, was founded in 1925 as a Zionist Socialist movement to educate its members toward aliyah and pioneering in Ereẓ Israel. Its first group of graduates, called Kibbutz Ḥerut, together with pioneers from Eastern Europe, founded kibbutz Givat Brenner within the framework of *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, from which Berit ha-Olim drew its inspiration. Another movement, Kadimah, which was the successor of *Blau-Weiss, the classical youth movement of German Zionism, was originally a Jewish national scouting movement that developed into a Zionist youth movement. Under the influence of the labor movement in Ereẓ Israel, particularly the kibbutz movement, and the conditions in Nazi Germany, a merger was made between Kadimah and Berit ha-Olim in February 1933 to form Habonim-No'ar Ḥaluẓi, which incorporated 2,300 youth in tens of cities. In Berlin, a third pioneering youth movement, Arbeitskreis, joined the new merger in the same year, bringing the membership of Habonim to a high of over 1,000 in one metropolitan branch.

Until 1938 Habonim operated as an officially recognized youth movement, with its socialist character camouflaged. After all Jewish organizations had been outlawed in Germany, Habonim went underground, confining its activities ostensibly to vocational training of its members with a view to aliyah. Graduates of Habonim were the mainstay of *He-Ḥalutz, and, together with pioneers not organized in any movement, they established hakhsharot (training farms) in Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg and temporarily also in France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Baltic countries. The intermediate age-group (14–16-year-olds) received practical training under the auspices of intermediate hakhsharot. Habonim also published a monthly that, for reasons of censorship, appeared under changing titles.

In Palestine, members of Habonim (the junior members as part of *Youth Aliyah) joined Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, which sent sheliḥim to Germany. Many members joined kibbutzim of Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad, even though Habonim did not officially become a part of this kibbutz trend. Habonim came to an end in Germany with the physical destruction of German Jewry.

[Ada Nachmani]

In Canada and the U.S.

Habonim in Canada and the United States was established in 1935 as the youth section of *Po'alei Zion, the *Farband, and *Pioneer Women. Its 3,000 members (1969) aged 10–21, are organized in 20 metropolitan branches, and younger groups are led by older members. Habonim also operates a countrywide network of ten summer camps, serving 1,500 children, modeled on the kibbutz. The program of the camps and metropolitan groups includes work, collective living, Hebrew language and culture, Jewish and Zionist history and values, and scouting. High school- and college-age students annually participate in a year program in Israel called the Youth Workshop, where they study and work on a kibbutz. Habonim also publishes two publications: Ha-Boneh and Furrows.

In addition to its educational program, Habonim has participated in and influenced the movement of liberal students fighting Nazi propaganda, the U.S. civil rights movement, and related activities. During World War II it served in the rehabilitation of *displaced persons. Later, Habonim supplied personnel for ships carrying "illegal" immigrants to Palestine, volunteers for Israel's War of Independence (1948), and nonmilitary aid following the Six-Day War (1967). Pioneering in Israel was considered the pinnacle of personal achievement for a movement member. Several settlements were established by Habonim graduates from Canada and the United States, including the kibbutzim Kefar Blum, Gesher ha-Ziv, and Urim and the moshavim Bet Ḥerut and Orot. The hub of the North American movement in the early 2000s was its seven summer camps and its programs in Israel.

[Saadia Gelb]

In Britain

Habonim in England was founded in London in 1928. By the time the handbook for leaders was published one year later, groups were already organized in East and West London and provincial centers. The program offered a carefully designed syllabus covering Jewish history, Hebrew, geography and knowledge of Ereẓ Israel, scouting, and athletics. The movement catered specifically to youth between the ages of 12 and 16 and cautiously avoided ties with any political or religious group, while encouraging adherence to Jewish values and traditions. The age of the members gradually expanded to 10–18. From its inception, Habonim identified itself with the building of Ereẓ Israel, and in 1932 it was officially designated a Zionist youth movement under the auspices of the British Zionist Federation. In the same year, a group of Habonim leaders established the British branch of He-Ḥalutz and began to prepare pioneers to live on collective settlements in Palestine.

During World War II, Habonim established hostels in various parts of the United Kingdom, issued publications, and established a corps of leaders who were not engaged in military service. At the end of the war, members in the armed forces and the Jewish Brigade, in particular, assisted Jewish survivors in Europe and their transport to Palestine. On the arrival of a Jewish unit from Palestine on the island of Malta in 1943, a Habonim group was established. In 1941 a contact office (lishkat ha-kesher), working out of Kefar Blum in Palestine, brought together members of Habonim from Britain, South Africa, India, Australia, and the U.S. The development of this office during the war years led to the establishment of World Habonim in the English-speaking countries to coordinate activities on a worldwide basis. Members of the British groups have settled mostly at Kefar ha-Nasi, Bet ha-Emek, and Ammi'ad.

[Wellesley Aron]

In Latin America

The beginnings of the movement that later merged with World Habonim to become part of Iḥud Habonim were in Argentina. In 1930 the first attempts were made to establish a movement by the name of Frayhayt, and afterward a movement called Yunge Skauten (Young Scouts) came into being. In 1934 the youth movement Dror, composed of the two above-mentioned groups, was formed. At the same time, another movement, Gordonia-Maccabi ha-Ẓa'ir, was founded. Both these movements were formed as a continuation of similar movements that had existed in Eastern Europe. They were established by immigrants to Argentina who wished to continue their movement activities in their country of immigration. Both movements developed in a parallel manner and merged in 1952 to form Iḥud ha-No'ar ha-Ḥaluẓi, which also existed in Europe and North Africa (see above). Iḥud Habonim, founded in 1958, had branches in Argentina (13 groups), Brazil (six groups), Chile (one group), Mexico (two groups), and Uruguay (two groups), in addition to groups attached to Jewish schools. This included thousands of members, aged 9 to 22, who were divided according to age and educational groups.

The movement supported daily activities in its branches as well as national and international activities: summer and winter camps, educational and ideological seminars, conventions of graduates, etc. It also supported training programs for its members in Israel (Mexico and Brazil) and trained leaders through the auspices of the Institute for Youth Leaders Abroad of the Jewish Agency. Members of the movement who settled in Israel established the kibbutzim Or ha-Ner and Mefalsim and joined Beror Ḥayil, Nir Am, and Ḥaẓerim. A large number of members are scattered among the kibbutzim of the Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim.

[Eliezer Gluzberg]

In South Africa

Habonim was founded in Johannesburg in 1931 by Norman Lourie (d. 1978) and conducts a range of educational activities in South Africa mostly led by student counselors. Members of the South African groups settled in Israel mostly at Kefar Blum, Ma'ayan Barukh, and Yizre'el.

In Australia

Members of Habonim from Europe, especially England, were among those who founded the organization in Australia in 1940. It ran a wide range of activities including seminars and leadership courses. Its members in Israel are found at kibbutz Kefar ha-Nasi and also Yizre'el.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.