The majority of Israeli children join a local Tenu’at Noar, or youth movement. Much of a movement’s activity is carried out through weekly and Shabbat meetings as well as a week-long summer camp. Madrichim (leaders) use methods of informal education to inspire and teach the Chanichim (children) or to induce discussion and thought. Each youth movement has its own philosophy (political and/or religious) which it tries to incorporate into the programming.
Generally, children begin attending activities when they are in 4th grade. In the high school years, some of the teens become Madrichim.
Many Israeli adults will tell you that they forged some of their most significant friendships and experiences in the youth movements of their childhood. It is not at all uncommon to find adults who have been friends since preschool. After playing informally in the neighborhood, they joined the same youth movement in elementary school and continued to be involved throughout their high school years.
Joining a youth movement is a wonderful way to help an Oleh child become more acclimated to Israeli society. It enables them to meet other kids in an informal environment without the academic pressures of school. They can more easily make a friendship for that is one of the primary values of a youth movement – to forge group cohesion and a sense of camaraderie among its members.
When you move into a community, ask your neighbors and friends about the youth movements in the neighborhood. Some communities have more than one active movement. The family can then choose the one that is most complimentary to their own educational and/or religious values.
Here is a listing of the most popular youth movements and their affiliation. It is important to note that the official affiliation of the movement is often moderated by the dynamics of the particular community in which it is located.
- Ezra – www.ezra.org.il (Chardal)
- Bnei Akiva – www.bneiakiva.org.il (National-Religious)
- Ariel – www.tariel.co.il (Chardal)
- Hashomer Hatzair – www.hashomer-hatzair.org/pages/default.aspx (Secular Zionist)
- Tzofim & Tzofim Datiim – www.zofim.org.il (Secular & National-Religious)
- HaNoar HaOved V’HaLomed – http://noal.org.il (Secular Zionist)
- Noam – www.noamist.org.il (Conservative Movement)