Exploring the Impact of Habonim Dror

A Study by Steven M. Cohen & Steven Fink, 2013

Can Jewish Value Education Work?

Over the last two decades a growing body of literature has documented that certain experiences in adolescence and childhood do, in fact, exert several sorts of long-term impact upon Jewish engagement in adulthood.

While the literature often points to generalized impact, just a few studies have demonstrated more focused impact, in accord with the ideological perspectives of the particular form of education under investigation. In other words, we do know that a variety of educational experiences tend to leave a lasting imprint on their alumni’s Jewish engagement generally conceived; but we have little evidence that the specific educational aims of ideologically driven Jewish education are achieved.

In this context, we turn to the study of Habonim Dror, asking whether the Habonim Dror experience has made any difference in the lives of former “Habos”, and, if so, whether that impact comports with the highly value-driven philosophy that guides the Habonim Dror experience.

We do so here by way of a survey of almost 2,000 Habonim Dror alumni, age 18 to 83, who as long as 60+ years ago participated in some aspect of the Habonim Dror program in North America. Before turning to the survey itself, we provide some background information on Habonim Dror.