WEEKLY UPDATE- 7.7.17
Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
This weekly update is about changes, as there are so many of them recently-
The biggest change for me is the retirement of Maoz Haviv- the amazing Head of Netzer Olami and TaMaR, who retired last week after over 20 years in Netzer. While we knew this was coming for quite some time, when things actually happens, they may still overwhelm you. Here is a short tribute to Maoz from the WUPJ. You can read what I wrote about Maoz a few weeks ago here. I was appointed as the interim Director of Netzer Olami and Tamar until we have a clearer vision on Inspiring the Next Generation of Progressive Youth.
In addition to Maoz leaving, two core members of Netzer Olami are also finishing their role in Netzer Olami, although we have hope they will come back to us later on! Ady and Danit-
Ady, the Shnat Netzer Etgar Director, is my right hand man. He is a charismatic, inspiring vision man. He is an ideological role model, who is so passionate about Netzer, it is contagious! We have been working together for over 3 years, and it has been a true honor to have him with us. Ady- we love you lots and appreciate you so much. Wishing you the best of luck on your new path, and looking forward to having you back with us! (You can read below a piece Ady wrote today to conclude his time as the Etgar Director).
Danit, the Etgar Madricha, is my left hand woman…. She is a brilliant young woman, who is so dedicated, caring and simply amazing. She has a gift- she is truly there for others- she cares, loves and has so much compassion. And all these are almost pale comparing to how ideological and invested she is in Netzer. Danit- we wish you the best of luck as well, and want you back after you graduate from uni!!
You are both brilliant, and it has been an honor and a privilege to have been working with you so closely over the last couple of years. You are a great team, and we already miss you greatly.
From R to L: Ady Blum, Orit Shoshani, Danit Ariel, Maoz Haviv, Lior Argaman. Missing, but with us at heart: Rinat and Rodrigo
And if these are not enough changes for one week, we can of course add to that the shnattim's move to Tel-Aviv- a.k.a. the hottest city on the planet these days. On Monday we left the Holy City and travelled to the city that never sleeps. Despite all my efforts to make sure the flats are clean, bugs free, well equipped and welcoming (including signs on rooms and a nice welcome pack of Bissli, Bamba, Chips and Bazooka (Israeli snacks), it seemed that everything that could have been broken- actually broke in the last two days!!! Rest assure, all things have been fixed, but it was quite intense.
Despite these issues, the shnattim are in good spirit, and have been exposed to a few volunteering placements, that might also provide some perspective. This week we visited a soup kitchen, babysitting houses and an animal shelter. These places are quite confronting and hard, and while we will not change the world by volunteering here for 6 weeks, we might cause a child to smile, or make sure toddlers are able to go out to the fresh air and play in the park, or make sure there are a few less hungry people around. That is quite big when you think about it.
Not enough changes you say?? Well, there were a few more things, but I'll address only two more- firstly, two of our community members went to do their own thing- Josh and Abraham- we love you and wish you find much happiness and satisfaction on your journeys.
And lastly- the change in the stance of the Israeli government in regards to the Kotel and the Conversion Bill- as reported last week and shared with you. You can read about it below, on the "Israel Update" corner, but you can also read here that Netzer took part in the demonstration which took place on Saturday night in front of PM Binyamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem. Here are a few photos from the event:
Want it or not, changes will always be part of our lives. I guess the main question is how we deal with them. Hopefully in a positive embracing way.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!
Weekly update by Jason and Louis
Thoughts on The Eve of Mechinat Etgar Nof – A Movement Must Be a Streaming Fountain, It Cannot Be a Tap
By Ady Blum, outgoing Etgar Director
It is now the last night before Mechinat Etgar – Shnat Nof begins. I'm tired, a bit exhausted from the past weeks which were packed with seminars. Yet I can't sleep. My mind is restless, it contains a stream of thoughts about the program, lots of excitement and some concerns as well. But more than anything, a firm sense that we are experiencing history in the making. For me and for our Tzevet, this is the only measurement we accept for our success or failure – will our efforts become a milestone in the history of our beloved movement, or will it be just another Israel program, just another round.
From the quick encounter over the past year, it seems that our Etgarnikim, which we see as our chanichim, but also as our partners on this ideological path, are the right kind of people to make history. Only time will tell, and their decisions and actions.
However, if we want to make a substantial change, we must not turn a blind eye to the flaws of our movement. We shall not fill our chanichim with empty movement patriotism. We should embrace the flaws, learn them and learn from them, work with them and finally – find ways and partners to fix them.
If we want history to be our measurement, we need to look at the widest context possible in which our movement works and exists. I think this should be found both in world Jewry, and in the wider political reality. It has become clearer that we in the western world, are marching into a more conservative era. For too long, the progressive movements did not pay a sufficient attention to the growing cracks in the liberal paradigm. Liberal thought and policy does not address people's distresses, while the number of people in distress, is growing. Focusing on the individual solely, on their human and civil rights, while neglecting their moral and social duties, liberal thought fails to give profound and substantial meaning for human lives, and a clear vector for elevating them. And in these cracks, in this vacuum, sneaked in old-new right wing, conservative and extreme nationalistic ideas and leaders.
This must be changed. The progressive movements should look critically into the movments in order to confront their political and ideological rivals. And Netzer (together with the whole movement for Progressive Judaism) is after all, a Jewish manifestation of the global Progressive movement. As such, Netzer has to work in two fronts – to fight for the progressive character of the Jewish people and its Jewish state, and to fight for the character of the western civilization from a Jewish perspective, from an ethical Jewish perspective. Achad Ha'am, Martin Buber and A.Y Heschel are the thinkers and activists whose ideas can show us the way.
And here we come to one of our great flaws as a movement – at times, we put most of our ideological efforts in changing words and definitions. We write and re-write the Netzer platform\ the PB&A\ and other mission statements or protocols. Every year in the Veida Olamit, I witness the excitement of our chaverim (members) when introducing a new amendment, a new word to use in the politically correctness culture. Don't get me wrong, fixing our categories shapes the way we view the world. Yet it doesn't change the world itself. It makes our "road map" more accurate, but it is still only a map. The road is not yet taken.
Where should we implement these new ideas, values and ideology? The first field should obviously be camp and every other movement event. Camps are islands in time and space where we can create a counter-culture – educate for alternative norms, but also put them into practice. Shnat should be the next field. Perhaps it should be the accelerator of the creation of a counter-culture, as it is the longest, most intense and holistic Netzer greenhouse. (For now, I will avoid the question of how many chanichim and sniffim are able to come on Shnat, and how much Shnat is indeed fulfilling its incredible potential). However, camps and Shnat are in many ways just the means, and not the end. If the realization- the hagshama of our values, truly happens only in these islands in time and space, then they don't really shape and influence time and space themselves. If we see the movement as only a limited age based (school+gap year+uni time), position based (madrichim, rakazim, movement workers), or events based (camps, shnat etc.) then we are not "The Pioneers of Netzer". We are not pioneers at all. It means there is an insufficient hagshama capacity. Which in turn implies there is a lack of a genuine ideological drive. All in all, this leads us to a severe lack of action- changing "real reality", of actually realizing Tikkun Olam, or any of its concentric circles.
So now the question lays in front of our shnattim and our bogrim – how would you expand these islands so they become a continent? How would you break this clear distinction between the islands of "movement' time and space" and the rest of reality, your daily life? How would you let the movement flow into your mundane dilemmas and decisions in life?
HOW WOULD YOU CREATE A REAL COUNTER CULTURE, A MODEL SOCIETY, WHICH CAN CHANLLENGE MAINSTREEM SOCIETY?
When we plan and run Mechinat Etgar, we bear all this in mind. These are the challenges we will have to tackle. We always remember Yigal Alon's words:
"Where there is no Hagshama - a vision fades. When there is no vision – a people (or a movement) perishes"
That's a great responsibility, but there is no greater purpose.
Haven't really left Shnat..... Missing you lots!
Netanyahu’s plea for ‘patience’ over Western Wall crisis is disingenuous
Op-ed: The prime minister travels the world trying to woo friends for Israel. Doesn’t he care about losing the Jews?
By David Horovitz July 4, 2017, The Times of Israel
On Tuesday, The Times of Israel published the full text of the Western Wall compromise agreement, an extraordinary document hammered out over years of meetings and site visits that was designed to insure, now that the “main” Western Wall is de facto controlled by ultra-Orthodox Judaism, that non-Orthodox Jews would have a guaranteed right to pluralistic prayer at an alternative Western Wall space nearby. This agreement, which provides for six non-Orthodox representatives appointed by the prime minister to sit on a 13-member oversight council, runs to a frankly staggering 15,000 words, and constitutes a patently well-intentioned effort by the parties involved to reconcile profound sensitivities at the heart of the intra-Jewish relationship.
So long and so serious in its construction, this is the agreement, solemnly approved by the government of Israel in January 2016, that was tossed aside by that same government by a casual show
A week and a half later, there has been backtracking on a second incendiary decision approved that day, with the shelving for six months of legislation that would have cemented the ultra-Orthodox monopoly on conversions to Judaism in Israel. But regarding the crisis over the broken Western Wall compromise, no such headway has been made.
Evidently, it is not a sufficient priority for the prime minister. That’s nothing short of a Jewish tragedy.
In an interview with this writer last week, Natan Sharansky, the Jewish Agency chairman who played an integral role in formulating the agreement, assessed that a formula would yet be found to enable its implementation. But he was far from certain that the trust between the Israeli leadership and the Diaspora representatives who worked so diligently on the accord could be restored.
He’s right to be worried. Indeed, I fear that the damage is graver still, and extends far beyond the shocked Diaspora leaders who believed — falsely, as it turned out — that the Israeli government’s word was its bond.
For the full article, click here.
From the IMPJ's newsletter
As we enter the new week, we continue in our struggle for equality at the Kotel and in conversion services. We began this week on motzei Shabbat, Saturday night, with a Havdallah service and rally by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem. We, together with our partners from the Conservative Movement, were joined by around 2,000 people who came to say – enough is enough! The rally was also joined by leading figures in Israeli society, including Sali Maridor, former embassador to the United States, General (Res.) Noam Tibon, author Yokhi Brandes, Tehilla Nachson and others, who came to speak out in favor of religious freedom and against the government’s disrespect of hundreds of thousands of Jews who refuse to be led by the ultra-Orthodox authority.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, President and CEO of the IMPJ, was the concluding speaker. In his remarks, he stated: "We, together with our many partners in Israel and around the world, entered into this embarrassing and dangerous lack of governmental leadership – our voices loud and varied, yet announcing in one chorus: no more! No more blind hatred! No more hypocrisy! No more redundancy! No more signing of agreements, only to then turn them into empty promises! No more being rewarded for despicable acts! No more speaking about unity on the one hand and acting divisively on the other! No more making one statement in English in Washington and a completely opposite one in the government offices in Jerusalem. No more!"
We invite you to continue following us on Facebook and on our website, where you will find a detailed explanation of this past week’s events, a prayer for unity in Israel, by Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, chairperson of MARAM – Reform Rabbinic Council in Israel, the full text of the speech made by Rabbi Gilad Kariv at the rally, a video from the rally, and more.
We will keep you posted over the coming week as developments unfold. We want to take this opportunity to thank you again for your continued support during these trying times. Even as we face backlash in Israel, your support helps remind us that indeed, kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh, all the people of Israel are responsible for one another.
From IRAC's Newsletter
A revolution reaches its tipping point when there are so many partners that nobody knows any longer who started it. All they know is why it started.
Last week the conversion bill passed by the Ministerial Committee that will officially put conversion in the hands of the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate. This would mean that conversions performed in Israel tha were not part of the state funded ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate would not be recognized. This would mean that no Reform or Conservative conversions performed in Israel could ever be recognized for those seeking to enter the population registry as Jewish instead of "without religion."
In short - it will enshrine the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over issues of personal status for Jews in Israel and they would forever have the power to define "who is a Jew." If that wasn't enough, the government went back on its word to create an egalitarian section at the Western Wall.
An outpouring of outrage against the decisions and support for us came from every corner of Israel and from all over the world. This storm put the government on defense, and as a result they have run back to their corner and asked for six months to "revisit it."
Last Saturday night, thousands of Israelis showed up on Prime Minister Netanyahu's doorstep to say that enough is enough, and that there is more than one way to be a Jew. Israelis answered our call to action with their feet and their placards. They held signs saying "Bibi, I am Jewish too" and "Bibi, don't divide the Jewish people."
The Diaspora also spoke up saying that equality is precious and that religious pluralism and tolerance are sacred. Cross that line and you will experience our fury. Our combined efforts showed the government that they cannot keep maligning the majority of world Jewry.
In the last six months, it will be easy to forget the conversion bill or the kotel. We cannot let the summer be a vacation from activism. When the Israeli government makes decisions that affect world Jewry, you have an obligation to speak up.
Letter of Jewish Agency' Emissaries
As a former Jewish Agency Shlicha (Emissary), I am very proud of this letter and fully stand behind it.
Israeli Diplomats Balk At Order To Blame Liberal Jews For Western Wall Crisis
(JTA) – Israeli diplomats in North America rejected a talking point handed down to them from Jerusalem to blame Liberal Jews for the Western Wall controversy.
The top diplomats refused to repeat the narrative that Jonathan Shechter, a top advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, handed down to them earlier this week in telephone conversations about the crisis in relations between the government and leaders of the Reform and other liberal Jewish denominations in the United States, Maariv on Friday reported.
The crisis erupted following an announcement by a government spokesperson in Jerusalem on Sunday that the cabinet had decided to suspend the implementation of a compromise on the contested issue of egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall plaza.
One ambassador reportedly said he would comply with the directive only if Jerusalem transmits the talking point in writing.
A diplomat who was not named in the Maariv article told the newspaper: “It defies belief that after everything that’s happened, the prime minister’s staff are seeking to blame U.S. Jews, who were deeply offended by the government decisions, for the situation,” the diplomat told Ben Caspit, the Maariv journalist who wrote the article.
It is so so hot in Israe, that it is almost impossible to imagine that it is winter elsewhere in the world. But with it, comes winter camps! Here is a glimpse into Netzer Australia's winter camp. Could not be more proud to see our Shnat Nezter Ma'ayan graduates leading it!!
We are very happy to send you our first update from our lovely Machane B'Yachad (Camp Together), Netzer Melbourne's Winter Camp. Even though this is only the end of the second day, we've already done so much!
Yesterday (Tuesday), after getting to the campsite, we had our opening ceremony and went straight to lunch and then fun get-to-know-you activities until the evening.
The weather in the past couple of days has been cool and clear and it allowed us to be outside during some of the activities and break times. We've used this time to play games, do sports and in general enjoy each other's company – we call it structured free time.
Today, with all the year levels on camp, we had two whole camp activities. Right after lunch we experienced the hustle and bustle of and Israeli Shuk (market) filled with exciting challenges, tasks and prizes. Later this afternoon, the Chanichim (participants) experienced a Ma'amad (creative prayer). The Ma'amad today was divided into multiple sections such as open discussions, dancing, music, nature and more.
We were so happy to see our Chanichim so engaged in both programs and exposed to our love to Israel and Progressive Judaism.
Besides our meaningful programs, it is also wonderful having our Chanichim (participants) helping clean up the dining room and kitchen before and after the meals. We are all taking responsibility over our camp, in turns. Chanichim (participants) and Madrichim (leaders) alike.
Rochelle and Rosa Co-Roshot of Machane B'Yachad - Winter Camp 2017
In the Parashat Hashavu'a corner, we will direct you to the World Union for Progressive Judaism's column "Torah from around the world", where each week another Progressive Rabbi writes about the weekly portion. For this week's portion click here.
A few heartwarming sights from the past week
When you accidenly wear the exact same clothes without planning it...
When the lovely Eliza McCaroll from Netzer Australia is back with us in Israel!!
When our kids are activists and you are proud!!
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
This may be the first weekly update you receive directly from us, and is part of our goal to have more direct and open communication with all our partners in this program
if you think there is anyone else that should receive this weekly updates, please send me their details
As always, the local Netzer Branch is always there for you as well