There are many fantastic community interest groups that fall under the umbrella of the Perth Jewish Community. The youth movements and younger organisations of the community tend to be far more dynamic than the older ones.
There is one youth movement in our community that has for a number of years been a stand out contributor to the growth and vibrancy of Jewish life in Perth. That movement is Bnei Akiva. Their reputation both locally, nationally and internationally is enviable. When in Israel the considerable Perth “contingent” of program participants and olim that are members and products of the Bnei Akiva movement, stand proud and are highly acclaimed. Their leadership skills, creativity, ability to learn Torah at a tertiary level, and their general committment to Jewish unity and tolerance is in every respect world class.
Like all Jewish youth movements, the members of Bnei Akiva have a free license and a level of autonomy to express their independence and to grow their ideological identity with great pride. Like all Jewish youth movements, the members of Bnei invest endless hours into preparing and creating activity, fundraising, teaching and promoting their events. Like all Jewish movements, Bnei Akiva provides a valuable role and perspective that is woven into the broad fabric of the Jewish community. So what makes Bnei Akiva so unique?
Firstly, the quality of the current leadership. The commitment and the conviction of the madrichim and the shlichim are what any other Diaspora community anywhere else in the world could only dream of. Secondly, the uniqueness of the opportunity that they provide. There are many formal channels for Jewish education. Our kids attend school, cheder, Torah stream, chevrutot, and interact in a number of educational environments. Our kids also attend Maccabi, birthday parties, extra curricular activities and interact in a number of social environments. However there is only one environment where both the educational and social opportunties are blended to deliver the most effective Jewish education of all, being informal Jewish education. There is also only one movement that will immerse the children of this community into a fully religious environment, spanning tefillah, learning, personal growth, love of Israel and an allround wholesome Jewish identity based on the values of Torah V’Avodah.
Internationally, Bnei Akiva is the world’s largest Jewish youth movement. It has tens of thousands of members. Here in Perth, more than 100 children regularly arrive to peulot on Shabbat Afternoon, some of whom have walked a great distance. There is a very consistent level of participation, and all week many of the juniors “hang out” for Bnei. To put this in perspective, that is 100 kids in a community of 8,000 people. Contrast that to other communities, say Melbourne or Sydney with comparitely large Jewish populations. In per captia terms it would be the equivalent of 600 or 800 kids turning up to Bnei each week.
However this is not about quantity, it is about quality.
There was once a time where the Bnei Akiva “environment”, a fully immersed Jewish observant form of community living, could only be experienced within the safety of a camp once or twice a year. However it seems that today Bnei Akiva never stops. The reports from Machane Oomph were sensational, but in the lead up to camp, and beyond the finish of camp, the living environment of the members of Bnei Akiva doesn’t change. It is as committed, and as Jewish, and as effective from week to week as it is at camp. It is even more important to carry this momentum beyond camp. This allows Bnei to be as visible as they can be, and to demonstrate in front of and within the Perth Jewish community what Religious Zionism represents, and why it is a winning formula for Jewish continuity.
Jewgle Perth is delighted to sponsor this week’s Chaver in recognition of the outstanding service that Bnei provides to our community. May it go B’ezrat Hashem from strength to strength, and continue to be a shining example of the vibrancy of the Perth Jewish community.