Youth Movements

South Africa Israel Centre Logo There are several Youth Movements for South African Jewish youth to get involved in. These movements aim to connect the youth to their Jewish Roots whilst having a great time with their friends. Youth leaders employ informal education methods to educate the movements members about the history of the Jewish people as well as Eretz Yisrael.

Habonim Dror

Habonim Dror is a worldwide Jewish Zionist youth movement. It exists to empower Jewish youth to take responsibility for their Jewish and Zionist identity, the Jewish people, Israeli society and the world at large. Habonim (‘The Builders’) was founded in 1929 in Great Britain. The idea of a Jewish youth movement soon spread to other English-speaking countries and finally, throughout the world. In 1930, Norman Lourie brought Habonim to South Africa, with the first camp taking place at Parys in 1931. Habonim Dror Southern Africa (HDSA) operates across the Southern African region. We have educated over 70 000 Jewish youth for almost 80 years and today remain the largest and most vibrant Jewish youth movement in Southern Africa.

We truly are a youth movement, as all our madrichim (counsellors) are under the age of 23. We run various programmes for both madrichim and channichim (members Grade 11 and younger) throughout the year in both Israel and South Africa, culminating in our famous annual summer camp (machaneh) during December.
Habonim Dror’s ideological direction is based around three pillars; Judaism, Zionism, and Service to Humanity & Equality.
For more information about Habonim, click here.
Founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923, Betar has been in existence for over 80 years and played a key role in the building and development of the State of Israel.
Many influential people were part of Betar, including Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, who spent much of his youth fighting against those who tried to persecute the Jewish people.
Betar Ideology can be summarised into three basic principles: Aliyah, Hadar and Tagar.
Aliyah: Betar believes that the highest ideal and greatest expression of Zionism is Aliyah - going to live in the state of Israel. We strongly believe in, and nurture a love for our Jewish homeland.
Hadar: Hadar is a word that is not easily translated, that embodies the ideas of self-pride and self-respect, respect for others and acting with a high moral integrity. Hadar is about acting as a Mensch.
Tagar: Tagar, also not easily translated, is about tenacity and activism - having the strength to stand up and fight for what is right, even in the face of all obstacles.
Today Betar exists as a youth movement in Israel and around the world with branches in South Africa, Australia, France, South America, USA, Canada, England, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Moldova. Each branch is called a Maoz in honour and memory of Rosh Betar, Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Betar is not a religious movement, but it does respect the Jewish tradition and keeps a religious level which accommodates religious Jews. The most religious chanich or madrich at a Betar camp will always be catered for.
Betar Southern Africa holds regular events for each of its shichvot, in addition to Mini Machanot, Winter Camps and a summer Machaneh. Programmes are also run at various schools. Betar is also involved in a variety of charity and fundraising activities.
For more information about Betar, click here.


With its roots firmly grounded in the land and Torah of Israel, Bnei Akiva is a pioneering Zionist youth movement, branching throughout the entire world. Bnei Akiva is going into its 83rd year of activity with over 100 000 members in more than 30 countries – making it the biggest Jewish youth movement in the world. In Southern Africa, Bnei has always played an integral role in the building of the community and providing Jewish youth with exciting, innovative and relevant programs. These programs focus on creating an environment which is both fun and engaging, so that our youth may be inspired to lead wherever they may find themselves, to give back both to the Jewish and surrounding communities of South Africa and to build each other into ambassadors of our diverse Jewish identity.
We believe that seeing growth, inspires growth. Our dedicated madrichim are motivated by their passion to give back to the community which gave so much to them. We continually invest in them whether it is by providing fun social events, outreach projects or comprehensive learning programs based at the Beit Mordechai Kollel.
Let us take a quick look at just some of the highlights from this past year’s Machaneh Briyat Machar (Creating Tomorrow):
  • Rav Pini and Rav Schreiber, both senior teachers from the premier Hesder yeshiva, Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), came to our thriving learning centre at camp in Hartenbos to teach and inspire us with words of Torah.
  • Staying true to our ideals of chesed, every channich took part in an outreach program for the underprivileged surrounding communities. From painting RDP houses, building libraries to planting veggie gardens for the elderly and welcoming orphaned kids to our camp site, every one of us were touched to the core after seeing just how much of a part we have to play in Tikkun Olam.
  • Top SA band - Prime Circle played to a roaring crowd of channies and maddies!
  • A visit to the Blue Bulls and Springbok 7’s teams
  • Dennis Goldberg, one of those convicted to life in prison alongside Nelson Mandela for anti-apartheid activities, spoke to us on one sunny Shabbat afternoon about his heroic actions in those dark times and about our obligation to stand up against injustice and make our voices heard.
  • Dynamic Torah was introduced. This was an initiative to show channies the infinite dynamism of the Torah and how there is more than something for every individual to be touched and inspired by. Some of the topics were: Philosophy, Zionism, Mindfulness Meditation, Mysticism, Gemorah, Shul 101, Relationships within and without and the list goes on. Stay tuned for the continuation of DT throughout the year.
  • Holocaust survivors made the trip to our campsite to remind and teach us more about our painful past and to ensure that future generations never lose touch with it.

While our Machaneh is certainly a main feature, there is a long list of what Bnei does throughout the year that really defines us as a pioneering youth movement. At the core of our ideology, Bnei Akiva believes that Israel is the true home for every single Jew. Three 1 year long ‘Hachsharot’ programs are sent to Israel each year. These programs are: MTA, Limmud and Lapid, all of them catering to a different type of student wanting to experience Israel in an authentic and exciting way. We also run 3 short-term programs for our grade 10 channies, just speak to anyone who has been on Hadracha, Nachshon or Kfar to hear of the life changing and memorable experiences they had. To date, Bnei Akiva has sent an average of 165 channichim to Israel annually.

Winter Camp is a mid-year event that we offer to Grades 6-9. Each year, the camp changes locations and offers something new and exciting to our campers. It is a more intimate experience that is tailor made for the group focusing on providing transformational education coupled with extreme fun at the coast!
Chesed is at the center of our Jewish essence, therefore Bnei Akiva is constantly involved in different programs that seek to uplift our communities. March 6th 2011 was World Bnei Akiva Chesed day where maddies and channies participated in a car wash and jumble sale with all proceeds going towards the Chevra Kadisha and Smile Foundation. Stay tuned to find out more about the upcoming Chametz Drive and other chesed initiatives.
This is just a taste of what Bnei Akiva gets up to – come and B A part of it!
For more information call our National Office (011 485 16 95) and visit


Netzer South Africa is the non-profit Jewish Progressive Zionist youth movement of South Africa. We form a branch of the international Netzer movement, Netzer Olami, which has its offices in Jerusalem. Netzer exists in over ten countries, including Panama, Australia, USA, Belarus, Germany, France, Israel, England, Russia, Spain and the Ukraine. Our parent bodies include the South African Union for Progressive Judaism and the South African Zionist Federation.
One of our main aims is Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) through Jewish education and community. The Jewish values of equality, tolerance and respect for all humanity are the core of our ideology, and help create the unique warm atmosphere at our Machanot.
In 1979, an Israeli Shaliach named MOSHEH COHEN arrived in South Africa on a mission to establish a new Jewish youth movement for the children and youth of the Reform congregations in the country. In the very same year, another Israeli Shaliach named ARIC CHATZOR, landed in Australia carrying the very same mission.
Moshe Cohen established the new youth movement in Johannesburg and they called themselves “Hamaginim" or “The Defenders”. Arik Chatzor established a youth movement in Melbourne and gave it the name NETZER – Noar Tzioni Reformi – Reform Zionist Youth. Then, both of these new movements – Hamaginim of South Africa and Netzer of Australia united to establish the new Reform youth movement – Netzer Olami.
The dream then became a reality. It started with 4 members in Johannesburg. Today, Netzer Olami is a youth movement of about 15,000 members, operating in 14 countries.
For more information about Netzer, click here.