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Shining Stars of Habonim

It seems that Habonim Dror is doing more than fostering personal bonds and cultivating Jewish leaders. The Labor Zionist youth movement is churning out movie stars, too.

Former Habonim camper Seth Rogen is receiving rave reviews for his lead role as lovable zhlob Ben Stone in Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up.” Last year’s hit comedy “Borat” also starred a Habonim summer camp alumnus, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The two celebs’ professional paths crossed when Rogen wrote for HBO’s satirical series “Da Ali G Show,” which starred Baron Cohen. Both actors have credited the youth movement with nurturing their comedic talents.

Jamie Beran, Habonim’s youth leadership director, was in Israel with Rogen in 1998 as part of a summer program. “We were on the same bus,” she told The Shmooze. “He used to do standup. He had the same dry humor back then. He would say something, and then a minute later you’d be like, ‘Wow, that was really funny!’”

But what is it about Habonim that brings out the inner comedian in its young members?

“Our programs give a lot of encouragement for creative expression,” Beran said. “It’s a warm atmosphere, and it allows kids to experiment.”

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