Young Judaea

Young Judaea

Infobox Organization
name = Young Judaea
formation = 1909
purpose = Zionist youth movement
parent_organization = Hadassah
website = []

Young Judaea is a peer-led Zionist youth movement of Hadassah. It runs programs throughout the United States for Jewish youth in grades 3-12. In Hebrew, Young Judaea is called "Yehudah Hatzair" or is sometimes referred to as "Hashachar", which means "the dawn."

History and organization

Founded in 1909, Young Judaea is the youth movement of Hadassah. Its programs include youth clubs, conventions, camps and Israel programs with an emphasis on social action and Jewish identity. A typical event is 2-3 hours and includes socializing, icebreakers, a "peulah" (educational or social activity) and "sikkum" (discussion), and Israel Update.

Young Judaea has 15 regions in the United States and is affiliated with the Federation of Zionist Youth (United Kingdom) and Tsofim (Israel). The age levels are "Ofarim" (Hebrew for "fawns;" grades 2-5), "Tsofim" ("scouts," grades 6-8), and "Bogrim" ("elders," grades 8-12). Young Judaea's university arm is YJ Impact (until 2007 called Hamagshimim). [ [ Young Judaea - About YJ Impact ] ]

Merchavim and Regions

Traditionally, Young Judaea has been divided into different geographical regions throughout the United States (including Puerto Rico). These regions are also lumped together into 5 units, called Merchavim, which are titled according to their geographical location in America:

The Southeast Merchav [also known as "Boom Boom"] contains "G'lil Yam" (North Carolina (minus Hendersonville and Asheville), Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia), "Or Hadarom" (Florida (minus Panhandle), Puerto Rico), and "Lev Hadarom" (GA, AL, MS, TN, SC, AR, Eastern Louisiana, Florida Panhandle, Western North Carolina)

The Southwest Merchav is a single region, "Ookaf Hadarom" (Texas, Oklahoma, Western Louisiana)

The West Merchav contains "Chagurat Hashemesh" (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana), "Ruach Hama'arav" (Nevada, California), and "Yoreh" (Washington, Oregon, Idaho)

The Midwest Merchav is composed of "Pneinu Artza"(North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missuori, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana), "Ayelet Hashachar" (Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky), and "Ruach B'Tzion" (Western Pennsylvania)

The Northeast Merchav contains "Ya'ar Penn" (Eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey), "Empiria" (New York State), "Ganei Yehudah" (Northern New Jersey), "Gesher/Tapuach Hagadol" (Long Island/New York City), and "Uri Tsafon" (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut)

Before the regions switched their names to Hebrew names in the mid-1970s, all the regions had English versions of their names.

Each region is ideally composed of clubs that met weekly. The clubs an exec of peers, president, vice-president, programmer, and perhaps secretary and treasurer. There was an adult advisor who helped plan the meetings with the members, and for general trouble-shooting when needed.

Current Young Judaea

The Current Young Judaea National Board:

Noah Tal Berman: "Mazkir"
Simon Nathan George Levitsky III: "AVP"
Laura Maschler: "Ofie Tsofie Programmer"
Alon Elhanan: "Bogrim Programmer"
Zena Schulman: "Social Action Programmer"
Emilie Seckel: "Merkezet A"rtzit
Evan Micħael Gildenblatt: "Merekez Pirsumim"

Last Year's national board was Zach Goldstein, Stephanie Berman, Ben Perlstein, Sam Berger, Emily Estes, Karen Silbert, and Zoe Friedland.


Recently, Young Judaea has raised nearly 30,000 dollars for various causes such as Hadassah Hospital, The Arava Institute and LATET; all Israeli organizations. Young Judaea has also been extremely active in social action projects, bringing large constituencies to various Darfur rallies, and even starting its own fund for Katrina victims. In 2004 after Hurricane Katrina hit, Young Judaea embarked on a program called Caravan 4 Katrina, where two truck loads of food, toys, and clothes were collected and delivered to Katrina victims in Louisiana.


All Young Judaea programs are centered around the movements ideology. The ideology is outlined in the Chukah (constitution).

Yehudah Hatzair Leumi Chukah

VISION: We, the members of Yehudah Hatzair, a politically non-partisan, religiously pluralistic, peer-led, Zionist youth movement*, envision a strong, vibrant, and secure Medinat Yisrael. We strive to unite Am Yisrael physically, culturally, and spiritually by strengthening it through aliyah, an ideal for which we strive, and the active support of an educated, empowered youth.

* Yehudah Hatzair is a politically non-partisan Zionist Youth Movement, which simply means that we, as a movement, do not affiliate with a specific political party. We, as a movement, however, maintain the right to take a stand on specific political issues, which may be implemented into Yehudah Hatzair programming.

We, the members of Yehudah Hatzair, affirm that the basis for our t'nua is a commitment toward action using the following pillars:

ZIONISM: Yehudah Hatzair regards the support of and the education about Medinat Yisrael as its goals. Programs regarding Israeli current events and stressing the importance of Medinat Yisrael as a national homeland for the Jewish people are implemented in the movement. Yehudah Hatzair recognizes Medinat Yisrael as a central part of Jewish life. We encourage both visiting Israel and making Aliyah.

SOCIAL ACTION: Social action is a part of both our Jewish and Zionist identities. Yehudah Hatzair works to help Jews and others in need, aid Jewish communities both local and worldwide, protect human rights everywhere, actively strengthen Medinat Yisrael, and strive to form a better world. Yehudah Hatzair will take stands on issues that it feels are important based upon the basic principles of the movement.

PLURALISM: Yehudah Hatzair firmly believes that all chevre t'nua, regardless of religious and political affiliations, can join together in one cohesive community. We accept that differences make our t'nua stronger. No chaver/a t'nua will be forced to surrender any beliefs unless these directly conflict with principles of the t'nua.

PEER LEADERSHIP: Yehudah Hatzair embraces a peer-led democracy as its method of leadership to be used whenever possible.

JEWISH IDENTITY: As a Jewish youth movement, Yehudah Hatzair stresses the unity of the Jewish people, the individual development through Jewish values, a comprehensive Jewish and Hebrew education, and the preservation of the identity of the Jewish people. We do so through Jewish spiritual, cultural, and educational activities.

Amending The Chukah: This chukah is meant to be a document which stands the test of time and holds validity for every member of the t’nua. Therefore the following process will be used to change this chukah:- An amendment to this chukah must pass with a 2/3 majority of an Asepha body at two consecutive national conventions in order to officially pass. It will go into effect immediately after the second convention.- If an amendment does not pass, it can be raised again at the following national convention but will still require a 2/3 majority vote at two consecutive conventions.



Conventions are central to the Young Judaea experience. They fall into two categories: Merchav/Regional, and National. Merchav/Regional Conventions are organized by the local Regional/Merchav Mazkirut, they are held in fall and spring; some regions have a social action convention as well. Typical convention programming features educational workshops called sadnaot, educational activities called peulot, prayers, and plenty of "chofesh" (free time) for socializing. The largest convention of the year, the National Midwinter convention takes place every year during President's Day weekend. It is open to all members of the movement, unlike the National Summer Convention which is held in mid-August at Camp Tel Yehudah and only open to Mazkirut members. At the Midwinter Convention the movement elects a new National Mazkirut and makes amendments to the Chukah. Additionally, at the Midwinter Convention a voting slate is created that has possible lobbying options for the movement to consider at another time.

On the most recent lobbying slate the topics included environmentalism, stem cell research, the Iranian nuclear program, and human trafficking. Also appearing at this convention was an Israeli DJ group by the name of Soulico. They played for an audience of over 400 people.

ummer Camps

Like many other youth movements, YJ operates summer camps for its members. Ofarim and Tsofim can attend one of five regional camps:
* Camp Young Judaea Midwest in Waupaca, WI (
* Camp Young Judaea Texas in Wimberley, TX (
* Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in Verbank, NY (
* Camp Young Judaea West in Ocean Park, WA (
* Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, NC (

Bogrim attend Camp Tel Yehudah [] , the National Leadership Camp in Barryville, NY. Programs there include "Alumim" (Jewish/Israeli history for entering 9th graders), "Yachad" (community building and social action for entering 10th graders), and "Hadracha" (leadership and activism for entering 11th graders). All camp sessions are three and a half weeks long. There is a Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire, but it is not affiliated with Young Judaea anymore.

* The Yachad age group includes the choice of a kayaking, hiking, biking or volunteering trip. The Hadrachah age group goes to Washington DC for 4 days in a lobbying trip.

Israel Programs

As a Zionist movement, Israel trips are a crucial part of the Young Judaea experience. Youth entering 10-12th grade can spend six weeks in Israel through Machon or Israel Discovery. Both programs include a Special Interest Week – for example, a desert trek, a stay on a kibbutz or training with the Israeli army – and the option of spending an additional week exploring Jewish history in Spain or Prague. The Prague option, for example, is part of the Shorashim (He:שורשים, roots), journey.

Recent high school graduates can also apply to spend 9 months in Israel on the Year Course program. Young Judaeans participating in Young Judaea Year Course may be able to transfer their year in Israel for college credits. The basic Year Course program is broken up into time sections spent in Jerusalem, Community Volunteering, and Israeli Experience. Young Judaea Year Course differentiates itself from most other movement freshman year abroad programs by immersing participants in Israeli life. Participants are encouraged to become part of Israeli society for their year in Israel.

Young Judaea members founded Kibbutz Ketura together with members of the Israeli scouts in 1973. Visit the web site to learn more about this kibbutz:


Singing is a large part of Young Judaea camps around America. Following are examples of songs from the 1970s.

Yehudah, Yehudah, Yehudah Hatzair. / We don't smoke cigarettes, and we don't drink no beer. / We like ice cream, and we like ice cream cones. / We like bananas, 'cause they don't have no bones.

Forward together, we're building Young Judaea / Hand in hand we'll proudly sing our cheer. / Ruach shall lead us, surging forever forward / Love of Zion lives throughout the years. / We stand ready to serve, each in his own way. / Eretz Yisrael, and the USA. / Shout out our praises, long let our voices ring / Young Judaea, now we cast our lots / Always our spirit serves as an inspiration, / Young Judaea, Chazak, v'Amatz, Judaea is the tops!


There are a few different Young Judaea alumni groups springing up. Janet Arnold has created and maintains a Website for Tel Yehudah Alumni, [ the Tel Yehudah Old Campers Network] (external link).

Some of the Year Course alumni have listservs.

There is an online Young Judaea alumni newsletter, [ Vatikim] {external link}.

Young Judaea is listed as an official nonprofit organization on Goodsearch. For the current year, all money raised for Young Judaea through Goodsearch will be donated to Hadassah Hospital Mother and Child Center (Young Judaea's Social Action Project for 2007-2008)


Young Judaea is run by "mazkiriyot" (boards) of peer leaders on local, regional, and national levels. The national level has one person, generally a senior in high school, for each position listed. The National Mazkirut is elected at Young Judaea's National Mid-Winter Convention by the a convention body consisting of "Bogrim" (9th-12th grade members of the movement). The regional level varies throughout the country- most regions contain at least 5 of the following. Some regional mazkiryot also have a club coordinator, who is responsible for communication between clubs in that region. The local, or "club" level also works differently throughout the country as there are many different clubs of different sizes, and often club mazkirut members fill multiple positions.It is the responsibility of all mazkirut members to welcome new Judaeans, create a friendly atmosphere, advertise by word of mouth, and “be a doogma”, or lead by example.


The "mazkir/a" (president, literally secretary) leads meetings, addresses issues, oversees the calendar, and coordinates the efforts of other maz members.

"'The current National Mazkir is Noah Berman.

"'Past National Mazkirim include:
1972-1973 Michael Billig
1973-1974 Naomi Leitner
1974-1975 Betsy Diamant
1975-1976 Paul Offman
1976-1977 Marilyn Feit
1977-1978 Danny Spiwak
1978-1979 Amy Erani
1979-1980 Debra Kuker
1980-1981 Aaron Horowitz
1982-1983 Jon Weiler
1983-1984 Judith Turner
1984-1985 Ben Dworkin
1985-1986 Kenneth Kirschner
1986-1987 James Licht
1987-1988 Brian Sokol
1988-1989 Gidon Isaacs
1989-1990 Eitan Mendelowitz
1990-1991 Allison Halpern
1991-1992 Evan Shereck
1992-1993 Aaron Dworkin
1993-1994 Polina Froymovich
1994-1995 Andrew Ashkenase
1995-1996 Abbe Schindler
1996-1997 Oran Ebel
1997-1998 Etan Ofrane
1998-1999 Leora Frankel
1999-2000 Harris Kaplansky
2000-2001 Joshua Scharff
2001-2002 Adam Deutsch
2002-2003 Andrew Fretwell
2003-2004 Joshua Sklarsky
2004-2005 Hilary Neher
2005-2006 Sandy Fox
2006-2007 Seth Finkelstein
2007-2008 Zach Goldstein


The "merakez/et irgun v’guis chanichim/ot" (administrative vice president, or AVP) oversees finances, membership, transportation, and attendance, as well as keeping minutes and records.

The current National AVP is Simon Levitsky.

Past national AVPs include:
1972-1973 Steve Vogel
1974-1975 Ilene Rosenthal
1981-1982 David Weinstein
1982-1983 Barbara Fox
1984-1985 Laura Sokol
1985-1986 Rachel Spack
1986-1987 Jeff Ashkenase
1987-1988 Sharon Reiss
1988-1989 Jason Glass
1989-1990 Ravi Nessman
1990-1991 Oren "Spek" Kaye
1991-1992 Sharon Litwin
1992-1993 Micah Meisel
1993-1994 Joel Greenberg
1994-1995 Dan Deutsch
1995-1996 Ilene Harris
1996-1997 Michael Plostock
1997-1998 Ayelet Lax
1998-1999 Benjamin Farber
1999-2000 Gilad Muth
2000-2001 Jonathan "Tissue" Teitcher
2001-2002 Wally Farber
2002-2003 Mara Posner
2003-2004 Desiree Schwartz
2004-2005 Ari Zolin
2005-2006 Ariel Scheer
2006-2007 Alex Zaremba
2007-2008 Stephanie Berman


The artzit is responsible for communication with all the nation's mazkirim through what is known as the "va'ad arzit" or national committee. The Artzit position was created in 2001. Prior to this time, communication with regions throughout the nation was kept via elected members of the national Mazkirut known as Merkhav Representatives. The nation was split into geographic regions and regions were assigned to respective Merkhavim. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were 6 such representatives on the national Mazkirut representing these distinct geographic areas of the United States - Northeast, Metro NYC, Kelp (eastern Pennsylvania to North Carolina), South, Midwest, and West. Furthermore, each of these representatives, in addition to serving on the national mazkirut, simultaneously was a member of their respective regional mazkirut. In this fashion, communication with the regions was maintained.

The current National Arzit is Emilie Seckel.

Past National Artzit's include:
2002-2003 Tali Gourarie
2003-2004 Aviva Berman
2004-2005 Hadas DeGroot
2005-2006 Rachel Gilmer
2006-2007 Judith Tankel
2007-2008 Karen Silbert

Bogrim Programmer

The "merakez/et chinuch l’bogrim" (Bogrim programmer) writes schedules and peulot (activities) for the Bogrim (High School-age chanichim), delegates duties to other mazkirut members, encourages participation in summer and Israel programs, and pays attention to logistics such as price, food, and supplies.

The current National Bogrim Programmer is Elon Elhanan.

Past National BPs include:
1972-1973 Ed Prince
1974-1975 Ellen Ezratz
1978-1979 Miriam Herschlag and Roberta ("Birdie") Paikoff
1981-1982 Scott Copeland
1982-1983 Kathy Marshall and Sharón Benheim
1984-1985 Sharon Schoenfeld and Danny Sherman
1985-1986 Paul Schwartz and Dan Goldstein
1986-1987 Richard Primus and Danny Birnbaum
1987-1988 Marilyn Cooper and Mitch Klein
1988-1989 Debbie Bing
1989-1990 Adi Flesher and Mason Voit
1991-1992 Nina Kujawski
1993-1994 Rachel Ruskin
1994-1995 Paul Edelstein
1995-1996 Toby Appel
1996-1997 Suzie Patt
1997-1998 Donna Trabin
1998-1999 Tali Paransky
1999-2000 Yaeli Maizel
2000-2001 Jeremy Sklarsky
2001-2002 Rebecca "Pudgy" Hathaway
2002-2003 Ethan Pack
2003-2004 Teddy Fischer
2004-2005 Judah Levenson
2005-2006 Igor "Iggy" Moliver
2006-2007 Ben Freed
2007-2008 Ben Perlstein

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the aforementioned Programmers were not only responsible for Bogrim programming but also programming for Ofarim and Tsofim.

Ofarim/Tsofim Programmer

The "mekasher l’ofarim v’tsofim" (Ofarim and Tsofim programmer, or OTP) is in charge of Ofarim and Tsofim membership (Lower and Middle School age chanichim), communicates with the O/T advisors, encourages members to attend summer camps, and may speak to recent Bar and Bat Mitzvahs about becoming Bogrim.

The current National OTP is Laura Maschler.

Past national OTPs include:
1972-1973 Sue Remick/Sharon Brodsky
1974-1975 Bonnie Sharfman and Carol Bergemann
1992-1993 Eric Bloom
1993-1994 Tiffany Lacker
1994-1995 Jared Friedmann
1995-1996 Judy Musnikow
1996-1997 Brooke Lerman
1997-1998 Ilana Scharff
1998-1999 Clara Hess
1999-2000 Hal Ungar
2000-2001 Niv Elis
2001-2002 Katie Kauss
2002-2003 Edana Appel
2003-2004 Stephan Miller
2004-2005 Becky Stolow
2005-2006 Rachel Goldstein
2006-2007 Shula Appel
2007-2008 Sam Berger

ocial Action Programmer

The "merakez/et tikkun olam" (social action programmer, or SAP) develops social action events and ensures that tikkun olam values are built into all programs.

The current National SAP is Zena Schulman

Past national SAPs include:
1995-1996 Eshai Crane
1996-1997 Ari Levine
1998-1999 Miriam Greenberg
1999-2000 Molly Sonenklar
2000-2001 Masha Katz
2002-2003 Daniella Rempe
2003-2004 Hila Levy
2004-2005 Shaked Hoter
2005-2006 Sonja Assouline
2006-2007 Danielle Lubin
2007-2008 Emily Estes

From 1974-1975, a similar position existed, called "Merakezet Hafatza" and was filled by Brenda Bodenheimer.


The "merakez/et pirsumim" (newsletter/publication editor) is responsible for publishing newsletters and other informational documents for the region. The newsletter should be distributed to regional members and should include a calendar of upcoming events, reporting on events that have taken place and alert Young Judaeans about topics and stories pertinent to the Movement (i.e. Israeli current events, etc). The Pirsumim is also responsible for creating flyers, web pages, and press releases.

The current National Pirsumim is Evan Micħael Gildenblatt.

Past national pirsumim include:
1972-1973 Rachel Finkelstein
1974-1975 Jonathan Levine
1978-1979 Karen Dahlman
1984-1985 David Weinstein
1985-1986 Seth Appel
1986-1987 Heather Parkoff
1987-1988 Einav Shochat
1988-1989 Lisa Primus
1989-1990 Daniel A. Miller
1991-1992 David Dashevsky
1993-1994 Andy Harris
1994-1995 Melissa Kujowski
1995-1996 Zach Pousman
1996-1997 Daniel J. Gottesman
1997-1998 Josh Ofrane
1998-1999 David Kogan
1999-2000 Dov Wilker
2001-2002 Joel Hess
2002-2003 Jessie Carroll
2003-2004 Alex "Shmalex" Frolkis
2004-2005 Adam Friedland
2005-2006 Sandy Fox [Since the delegations at the 2005 Mid-Winter National Convention failed to agree on a candidate for 2005-2006 National Pirsum, Sandy Fox filled the position de facto. She was therefore National Mazkira and also filled the position of Pirsum. Fox delegated many Pirsum responsibilities to other National Mazkirut members so that she was not overburdened by the two jobs.]
2006-2007 Ben Gourarie
2007-2008 Zoe Friedland


ee also

* Zionist youth movements
* Federation of Zionist Youth
* []
* [ Young Judaea Official Website]

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