bnei akiva faces 88.
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The 11th international Bnei Akiva youth movement convention will begin Wednesday in Israel, with a special focus on communities along the northern border and in the southern town of Sderot.
"We see it as vital this year to give up the convenience of holding the activities solely in Jerusalem, and prefer to concentrate on areas which have been stricken with hardship," Bnei Akiva spokesman Zvika Klein said.
The eight-day convention, titled "Pioneering in our Times," takes place every four years, and this time brings together 150 youths from over 30 countries.
"It is in the blood of the youth to be leaders," the head of Israel's Bnei Akiva movement, South African-born Ze'ev Schwartz told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "They have vigor and chutzpah and it is our goal to empower them."
Bnei Akiva, one of the largest Religious Zionist youth movements in the world, was established in Israel in 1929 by Yehiel Eliash. Its main goals are encouraging aliya and educating towards Torah-based values while inspiring community involvement.
Delegates will volunteer at absorption centers in Haifa and in Ethiopian communities. They will also hold activities for the Gush Katif evacuees and attend a conference on the kidnapped soldiers in participation with the families of the captured soldiers.
One of the main issues on the agenda is the vote Sunday night on whether Bnei Akiva should be part of establishing a new community in Israel proposed by the World Zionist Organization. While the proposed settlement will be located in an undeveloped area within the Green Line, its exact location has not yet been disclosed.
The delegates will also decide where Bnei Akiva should direct its movement's young immigrants to live. Among the proposed destinations are Modi'in and developing towns, such as Sderot.
"We are building in a time of some gloom," Schwartz said. "Although it is said that we are living in a post-Zionist age, we feel we are actually living in the prime of Zionism. This year's convention is an important milestone in the Zionist way of life. There are many spheres to pioneering... It's not only out there in the fields but also in the fields of science, education and social work."
The number of Bnei Akiva members has grown rapidly during the past few years, reaching over 50,000 worldwide.
The largest amount are in North America, which has 10,000 members, while the UK is next in line with 2,500 members. The movement also has over 130 shlihim (emissaries).
For more information about the 50th anniversary celebration of World Bnei Akiva contact
www.hadracha.org/veida or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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