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The First Jewish Social Startup

When my daughter taught me about Passover

Last week, my six-year-old daughter (Yuval) asked me how Moses managed to lead the Israelites out of Egypt all by himself. I told her that Moses wasn’t alone. No Israelite, not even Moses, could have broken out of Egypt and journeyed through the desert to the Promised Land alone.

The exodus from Egypt can be seen as the first Jewish social startup.

The ability to transform the dream of freedom into reality required a great deal of power. Moses catalyzed the dormant power of the Israelites and together they broke through the reality of slavery towards personal and social freedom. Our endeavor to establish educators’ kibbutzim throughout Israel is a modern adaptation of that first social startup. The connection between kibbutz members multiplies our power and gives us the ability to act as a unified force. I am not alone with my values and ideals. I have partners, and we face these challenges together..

Applying the lessons of the exodus in Akko

In 2008 Kobi, a member of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz, saw a drop in the number of participants at the youth center he was running in Kfar Tavor, a Jewish village in the Galilee. Kobi wanted to run a huge recruitment event involving outdoor training challenges but he needed help with the planning and execution of the program. I was part of the group that helped Kobi create a successful event for the families of Kfar Tavor.

The success of that program led to the establishment of "BAMAAGAL" (In/Inside the circle"), a company that today runs activities and training for thousands of groups including Israeli security forces, educators, teachers, and youth. And it all started because Kobi was down in the dumps about the situation at the Kfar Tavor youth center.

Members of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz are youth workers, lecturers, teachers, arts and sports group coordinators, tour guides, community organizers, directors of cultural centers, leadership training instructors, curriculum developers, and guides for journeys to Poland.

During the constant encounters between us when picking up our children from daycare, at shared Friday evening meals and when we go on trips and hikes together, we eat, sleep, and breathe education.

Our interactions foster a multidisciplinary approach as we take advantage of the varying areas of expertise and methodological approaches employed by kibbutz members in their daily work. The connections we make between formal and informal frameworks, hikes and lectures, journeys to Poland and teacher training workshops – this is what constantly enriches us and creates our brand of uniquely powerful educational programming. Kobi was able to create "BAMAAGAL" because the members of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz are his lifelong partners.

Creating a new reality

Akko faces many challenges with high levels of unemployment, the constant threat of missiles from across the northern border, and issues associated with being a mixed city of Arabs and Jews. But as we work together,these challenges appear as scalable obstacles in one of "BAMAAGAL" outdoor training courses. We envision a new and better reality for Akko, much like the ancient Israelites must have experienced in their own journey from slavery to freedom.

Our true power is embedded in this spirit of togetherness. This spirit lives in every kibbutz member and in our shared belief in equality, our collective striving for justice, and in our mutual care for one another.

Our deepest thanks to Moses and the ancient Israelites for giving us the idea. :-)

“The Exodus from Egypt will forever be the springtime of the world,” HaRav Kook

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