Bnei Akiva's twin ideals of Torah and Avodah loosely translate to religious commitment/study and work on the land of Israel. The movement has an anthem called Yad Ahim. As a pioneering Zionist youth movement, Bnei Akiva believes that it is a central commandment of Judaism to emigrate to the land of Israel--"make Aliya"-- and maintains that the future of the Jewish people is tied to the state of Israel. Bnei Akiva feels that Jewish youth in the Diaspora should be educated to realize that the State of Israel needs them, and that they, in turn, need it. In the early years of pioneering, Avodah was understood as meaning agricultural work, as reflected in the symbolism on the "Semel" (see below, #The_Emblem). In more recent years, there has driven a shift in ideology towards a broader definition of working for the development of the country. (See Avodah article).
Similarly, the original socialist aims of Bnei Akiva are also taking more of a back-seat. Up to the 1980s many Bnei Akiva members joined religious Kibbutzim in Garinim (groups). They were either groups based on army service together Nahal or they were groups that came on Aliya (emigrated) to Israel together. Since the 1990s, a wider view of how to contribute to Israeli life has become accepted. Bnei Akiva members now typically settle in development towns, settlements etc. They are active in all areas of Israeli life including security, hi-tech, education, academia etc.
Bnei Akiva's objectives are to educate Jewish youth with values of Torah Va'Avodah (Torah and work), to provide stimulating experiential and informal opportunities for encountering Judaism, and to encourage Jewish continuity and leadership, e.g. members are encouraged to spend a year in Israel on organised learning and touring programs to broaden their knowledge of Israel and developing their leadership skills.
The term "Bnei Akiva" and its ideology relates directly to the story of Rabbi Akiva. At the age of 40 years old, after growing up tending flock, he changed his ways and decided that he needed to find out the essence of the Jewish faith. He reasoned that just as something as soft as water can penetrate a solid rock and cause it to erode, so too can the Torah penetrate into himself. Chanichim (lit. students) strive to emulate Rabbi Akiva and his qualities, namely his love of God, devotion to the Torah, respect for labor, love of Israel, and his fight for its independence.
Read more about this topic: Bnei Akiva
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