What is Bnei Akiva?
Updated: Jun 23
If you have spent any time in Israel or Jewish communities, you have likely heard kids talking about Bnei Akiva. This religious Zionist youth movement is huge in many Jewish areas, and Israel, of course. Keep reading to learn more!
Bnei Akiva is a youth movement for Jews both in and outside of Israel. They have the most members of any Jewish youth movement globally -- 125,000 in more than 42 countries! It was established back when Israel was called Palestine before the country was even called Israel! Bnei Akiva is really a way of life. It exists in America but on a much smaller scale than in Israel. It's seen as less of a need for the Jewish community. In America, you attend Bnei Akiva gatherings once every Shabbat or so, and you participate in activities connecting you to Zionism and Israel. It's a place for like-minded people to come together.
In Israel, it's similar. It's very popular in Dati Leumi communities -- some are more religious, and some less. It's a good way for boys and girls to hang out in an environment deemed appropriate. It's both Zionistic and social, and usually meets Tuesday nights and on Shabbat for programming. Everyone takes it very seriously and feels a commitment and a connection.
During different parts of the year, there are various events. When the kids reach a certain age, they are assigned a "shevet" or tribe, and it's a huge deal! It's like the devotion people have to sports teams -- people take this very seriously. There are tension and competition between different tribes, everyone wants to be the best! Everyone is really attached to their tribe too.
In short, it's a way to be devoted to your country, learn about Judaism, all while hanging out with friends. Not every activity is connected to Torah -- there is time to just socialize and enjoy, too! During certain hagim (holidays), there are trips to go camping, connect to the land, and bond! It's the chance to explore Israel with peers -- what can be better than that?