BNEI AKIVA - OUR NAME
'Bnei Akiva', in Hebrew בְּנֵי עֲקִיבָא, literally means 'Children of Akiva'.
The Akiva referred to in our movement's name is that of Rabbi Akiva.
Rabbi Akiva lived in Israel during the Roman era and he combined being a great Torah scholar with visionary leadership, with a genuine love for his fellow Jew. Although he only took up Torah learning at the age of 40, he became one of the greatest ever teachers, raising up the generation of rabbis who compiled the Mishna.
Bnei Akiva was established in Israel in 1929, as the youth movement of the Religious Zionist Mizrachi organization. The official founding date was set for Lag Baomer 5689 (28th May 1929), a date associated with Rabbi Akiva and the efforts to restore an independent Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel, led by the Bar Kochba Rebellion. Despite witnessing the destruction of the Second Temple and the failed rebellion, Rabbi Akiva remained full of hope, confident that the land would one day become a Jewish homeland again.
Since Rabbi Akiva is known for having supported Bar Kochba, as well becoming one of the greatest rabbis of all time, teaching students and inspiring the Jewish people to survive and continue, he has become one of the greatest symbols of the movement.
As this dream of unfolds before our very eyes, in today's State of Israel, we remain committed to emulating his character traits and fulfilling his ideals.
The name for our movement was suggested by Avraham Kastenbaum with the rationale that calling ourselves Bnei Akiva symbolizes the two core values represented by Rabbi Akiva - Jewish heroism, Torah study and a free Jewish homeland in Israel.