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Camping out with Hashem – why I love Bnei Akiva



Bnei Akiva’s slogan, “Am Yisrael be eretz Yisrael el pi Torat Yisrael” (the Jewish people living in Israel according to the Torah) is the slogan of my life. I’m privileged to have been a part of this incredible movement from birth, to have grown up in the warmth of the Bnei Akiva chevra, and to experience the greatest moments of life – feeling Hashem’s presence and finding true happiness – thanks to this organisation.

Bnei Akiva is a religious Zionist movement that offers an unmatched opportunity to connect to Judaism, Hashem, Israel, friends, and yourself through fun, meaningful, uplifting experiences, and fosters a sense of belonging and community.

Bnei Akiva emphasises Jewish identity, values, and a connection to the land of Israel. It has an ability to uplift the mere physical and make it spiritual. A bare field in Hartenbos is transformed every December to the pumping heart of Jewish youth, strangers are transformed into family, and an empty hall is transformed into a Mishkan Me’at (miniature Beit HaMikdash). Teenagers linking arms, words belted in unison – “they can kill our bodies but they’ll never kill our souls” – wax dripping down fingers, and tears dripping down faces as hoarse voices shout in song to the heavens and the shechina rests on earth. Through shul, tochniot, shichva rivalry, tish, and ruach, the mediocre is made extravagant, and the soul that entered camp exits with a new, profound meaning of what it means and feels like to be a Jew.

Bnei Akiva focuses on the holistic development of its members, encouraging us to take on leadership roles, participate in community service, and engage in meaningful Jewish learning. Through experiences such as machaneh, hadracha, kfar and gap-year programmes, channichim not only inherit a deep sense of belonging, but also a desire to give back.

Run by youth, Bnei creates an incredible, indescribable bond between madrich and channich as maddies aren’t friends or parents but role models that guide and lead by example on the derech (path) of a young Jew in this world. My madrichim are the people I look up to the most – teenagers and young adults who invest time and effort, sacrificing sleep and fun in order to shape me and so many others into the people we are today.

Bnei Akiva is more than a youth movement, it’s a family. A family that values Hashem and Israel. A family that values Torah ve avoda (and work). A family that values youth, and a family that values experiences. A family that encourages young people to engage with their Jewish heritage, and contribute positively to society.

In these times of uncertainty and fear, although our army and people are prevailing, we continue to daven for the total annihilation of our enemies, the return of our hostages, and the coming of moshiach. As youth, we struggle to discover what we can do to help. Bnei Akiva helps every child master the ancient paradox of being a religious Jew and living in the modern world, between Torah ve avoda. To study in a yeshiva or midrasha and still serve our country. To master the arts and the sciences with a kippa on your head and a skirt on your knee. For as Jewish youth, we can change the world with a Magen David on our chest and fire and purpose in our eyes.

Kadima Bnei Akiva!

  • Ayala Sifris is a Grade 11 pupil at Yeshiva College and is extremely dedicated to Bnei Akiva.

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