World Bnei Akiva Shlichim: Inspiring the Next Generation of Religious Zionist Leaders
BY OHAD TAL
This week marks one year since my appointment as Mazkal (Director) of World Bnei Akiva, the largest Zionist youth movement in the world, with approximately 20,000 chanichim and 100 shlichim in 24 countries around the globe. A high percentage of today’s most prominent religious Jews, including both leaders of communities and professional fields, are graduates of youth movements – and particularly Bnei Akiva. Living in a post-modern world that advocates extreme individualistic values, our core mission is to prepare the next generation of Jewish youth to assume communal responsibility and lead their communities in the years ahead. Through our network of shlichim and local Bnei Akiva sniffim, we work closely with Jewish communities in the Diaspora to foster leadership and commitment to Am Yisrael and encourage Aliyah to Israel.
When my family and I served as shlichim with Bnei Akiva in the Netherlands, I experienced firsthand the impact and influence shlichim can have on a community, and particularly the youth. Recognizing the significance of each shaliach, the World Bnei Akiva shlichut department carefully recruits, selects, and prepares the shlichim, whether young families or post-IDF/National Service singles, for the demands and challenges of the role. The rigorous selection process includes multiple interviews, meetings with an organizational psychologist to help identify the ideal candidates for shlichut, and considering the unique requirements of each partner community. Successful candidates participate in a week-long preparation seminar, equipping them with knowledge and tools for their shlichut, developing a strong support network among the shlichim themselves and with World Bnei Akiva staff who will support them throughout their journey.
After an emotional and inspirational farewell ceremony, the shlichim spend two to five years living in their assigned communities where they work with the youth and local madrichim. Together they play an integral role in strengthening the community’s connection to Israel and Judaism and inspire the next generation of Religious Zionist leaders.
Ohad Tal is the former Mazkal (Director) of World Bnei Akiva.