About Bnei Akiva > Everything About Bnei Akiva
Although Bnei Akiva has been in existence since 1929 World Bnei Akiva was formed as a separate entity in 1954. Since then many thousands of alumni (bogrim) have made Aliyah and have been a key element in enriching different areas of Israeli society. Classically, these alumni would move to kibbutzim, building the land physically. Indeed, most of the religious kibbutzim were founded by groups of Bnei Akiva alumni from the Diaspora. In addition, you will find alumni in many walks of life such as successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, Rabbis, educators, politicians and in many other areas of professional life. Many alumni have served in the IDF and do annual reserve duty. Even in the Diaspora, alumni who did not make Aliyah fill many of the most important communal roles, whether as part of the lay leadership, or as educators and Rabbis.
What is common to them all is a love for the Torah, the People and the Land of Israel and a continued commitment to furthering the goals of the Jewish people in the spirit of the Torah.
World Bnei Akiva is a worldwide organisation, active in 34 countries running a wide range of informal educational activities for over 45,000 young Diaspora Jews. Taking their sphere of influence into account it brings a strong Jewish message to hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world every year!
The activities are a combination of weekly activities at a local chapter level, bi-annual national and regional activities, summer camps and one-year programmes in Israel. In addition all local chapters are expected to identify communal and social action issues for which they take responsibility.
All of these activities are built on the educational techniques developed by professional and experienced local leaders in each country under the overall supervision and management of World Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem.
· Training, placing and funding shlichim (emissaries) to each of the communities in which World Bnei Akiva is active. Over 150 shlichim are employed annually in 34 countries;
· Supervising all local activities through regular meetings with the shlichim; weekly meetings, national/regional camps and other special events. 45,000 Jewish youngsters are touched by the ideals of Bnei Akiva every year, and in many cases every week!
· Organising and supervising all of the summer, year and special programmes for the national branches, which are carried out in Israel. On an annual basis World Bnei Akiva brings over 500 high school graduates for year-long programmes in Israel, and about 1,000 participants for shorter programmes during the year;
· Facilitating a special army programme (called Machal) for alumni who volunteer for service within the IDF. Each year approximately 50 Bnei Akiva alumni from around the world volunteer for a year’s service within the IDF. Most join frontline combat units. Following Machal the alumni return to the Diaspora to work as emissaries for Bnei Akiva. Over the years hundreds have participated in this programme and some have unfortunately been killed in action;
· Creating and maintaining forums for alumni who have made Aliyah. This also includes organising Shabbaton weekends, other social activities and also various campaigning and social action programmes as well as maintaining World Bnei Akiva’s web presence – www.bneiakiva.net;
· Overseeing and developing pedagogic materials used across the globe by the local branches.
In addition to its regular activities World Bnei Akiva arranges many special educational programmes focused on particular groups or issues that arise from time to time.
- special outreach camps in the Former Soviet Union for young Jewish Russians,
- trips to Poland to learn about the Holocaust and Jewish survival
- leadership training seminars
- extra-curricula programmes for yeshiva students learning in Israel
- building a forest in memory of members of World Bnei Akiva who have fallen in Israel’s wars
At the current time World Bnei Akiva has over 150 active paid representatives from Israel working in 34 countries in every continent. In addition it has thousands of volunteers from the active local movement that make up the majority of the local madrichim (leadership). These madrichim all undergo training appropriate to their responsibilities and are supervised by World Bnei Akiva through the network of Shlichim.
In many communities Bnei Akiva is the exclusive provider of informal Jewish education and experiences, and is relied upon to stem the advancing tide of assimilation. This is particularly true in some of the Scandanavian countries, parts of the former Soviet Union, South America and South Africa.
Whilst the cost of employing the Shlichim runs into the millions, the cost to World Bnei Akiva is less than 10% of the gross cost, the balance being funded by local chapters or the Jewish Agency. In pure business terms this gives maximum leverage to the money raised by World Bnei Akiva.
Bnei Akiva in the 21st Century!
In its first 50 years World Bnei Akiva has inspired large numbers of committed young Jews to make Aliyah and fulfil their ideals in Israel, or have remained in the Diaspora to become influential leaders of their local Jewish communities. Over 60% of Olim from Western countries identify with Bnei Akiva and its ideals.
In an age when the challenge for the Jewish Diaspora is to stem assimilation and intermarriage, World Bnei Akiva must strengthen its presence and activities within the local communities. With adequate resources World Bnei Akiva could become an even more influential force in the Diaspora helping it to cope with these most urgent of problems.
It is the task of World Bnei Akiva to bring “Torah v’Avodah” into the 21st Century and revitalise the movement! Bnei Akiva has always stood for the values of Religious Zionism and through these ideals it has inspired generations of Diaspora Jews to identify and be committed to the Jewish people. The Jewish people need these ideals and now more than ever!
World Bnei Akiva wants to recruit more shlichim to enable it to be actively represented in more countries. In addition the leadership of World Bnei Akiva has many new ideas that would strengthen its presence in the local communities in which it already operates, helping to create more positive Jewish focuses for their youth in the face of the ever-mounting pressure to assimilate.