Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
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
Please like us on FB to get regular updates- https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009469877056
Another week is coming to an end, and here, there isn't a dull moment. Our Northern group is adapting nicely to the Kibbutz life- they take lessons in Zionism, ecology, עברית (Hebrew) and more, and share meals in the Cheder Ochel (dining hall). Starting this week, they will also cook for the whole Kibbutz once a week- well done!
And while the Northerners are integrating, our Southern Shnattim are very close to the end of their Shnat. In the last three days, the Australians- 14 out of the 16 southerners, participated in the AZYC (Australian Zionist Youth Council) closing seminar in the Arava region. It was time to prepare for their return home, together with dozens of alike Aussies from all youth movements currently on a Gap Year in Israel.Thank you Ady for going with them :)
This weekend will be their last one on Kibbutz Lotan and in the program in general. One can only imagine how emotional they are right now, but that doesn't stop them from being present mentally and physically in the program, and have some Ru'ach (spirit), as you can see below!
For the Northerners, this will be the last few days as the newbies- soon, they will be the only shnattim on Lotan and in Israel, till their fellow Southerners of 2017 arrive in early February.
Lets hope that next week will be an amazing one for our Southerners, who will come to Jerusalem for their closing seminar, and that our Northerners will now step up and make us proud as the Netzer representatives on Kibbutz Lotan, and later- in the Galilee.
Some Ru'ach (spirit) before returning home from our Australian shnattim, on the AZYC (Australian Zionist Youth Council) Seminar in the Arava region-
Weekly update by Max and Elinor
We are writing this, sitting in a mud dome looking out on the red mountains which separate Israel from Jordan, with a cat purring near by. This is a relatively peaceful atmosphere for what has been a busy last week.
We arrived in Kibbutz Lotan last Wednesday and it instantly felt like Shnat was real. After exploring our mud dome homes, compost toilets and eco showers we met the southern Ma’ayan shantties, who were very welcoming and friendly. We spent our first Shabbat with the southerners, with us running puelot for each other which has given us lots of vital information to help us on our journey.
Our arrival Kibbutz met with a massive sandstorm which hit the middle of our bonding games, later that evening a huge thunder storm arrived making us a at the butt of all the ‘you brought the english weather with you’ jokes, also not all the mud domes could survive the downpour which did leave us a little damp.
Our new routine consists of chores such as: cleaning the toilets, showers and kitchen, at 8 o clock, then a ma’amad ( creative prayer service) at 9:30 and then a range of fun and engage activities the rest of the day, our favourites have included making mud bricks and then building a mud wall for the nursery, making our very own compost, finally beginning hebrew classes, going on a beautiful hike and helping make dinner for the whole Kibbutz.
We have met many fascinating people from the Kibbutz including some of the founders, some shinshins (Israeli gap year participants) and volunteers here. We were all assigned different families to join for dinner on Saturday night and have all got to know them very well, further increasing our understanding of the kibbutz.
Please see some pictures from our week below.
Meet Maya Pollack: Masa Israel Gap Year Alumna (and of course Shnat Netzer Bogeret)
Over Passover break this past year in Israel, I was watching the movie, "Tangled" and eating ice cream. I wasn't paying attention because my ice cream was really tasty, until I heard this sentence, "I've been looking out a window for 18 years. What if it's not what I dreamed it would be"?
I realized that that is a fear that I had before going on Netzer Olami's gap year program through Masa Israel. I have quotes from my 9th-grade angst teenage diary saying, "I hate high school. I can't wait to go to Israel on my gap year.”
So apparently, by 15 I had already decided to go on a gap year.
Anyways, this year is something that I had been anticipating and building up in my head for over five years. What if it weren't everything I thought it would be? What if it was a waste of time?
Now I'm not going to lie to you, the first week of my gap year, I thought that that fear had come true. I remember sitting in a circle doing a program at Beit Shmuel, in Jerusalem, thinking, "How embarrassing would it be if I went home now? Would plane flights be expensive"?
I'm not sure what it was, but something wouldn't let me truly acknowledge how I felt. I think I was probably in denial because I wanted it to work out so much. And I'm glad I was in denial. Because after giving it a little time, I realized that this journey was one that I was meant to go on.
Every one of the 255 some odd days that I lived in Israel, I learned something new because of the people I lived with and because of the amazing country. Through Netzer Olami, I learned how to communicate effectively, love unconditionally, how to get angry and then move on, how to sing with all my heart, and how to feed my endless hunger for knowledge.
Speaking of knowledge, one of my main goals for my gap year was to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I was able to meet during my Gap Year. In high school, I was the only Jewish person in my school and because of this, I became the unofficial representative of all things Israel and Jewish. Everyone asked me questions and more questions and at that particular time I felt I couldn’t answer them to the best of my ability. However, thanks to the events hosted by Masa Israel during my Gap Year I am confident to answer all questions regarding Israel now.
There was one event that I know sparked my interest; it was our trip to Gush Etzion where we spoke to a Palestinian and a Jewish Settler. While asking these gentlemen questions, I realized that this was what I came to do. I came to Israel to learn about the country that I loved. I left that event feeling like I was definitely on the path that my heart wanted me to go on.
From the experience I’ve had on my Gap Year, I am now studying Middle Eastern politics and am currently involved in making a documentary about Israel on college campuses and how it is portrayed.
Written by Masa Pollack, Shnat Netzer Ma'ayan Bogeret
In ‘historic’ first, women pray with Torah scrolls at Western Wall
Scuffles as liberal Jewish leaders join Women of the Wall to demand implementation of compromise plan at holy site
Tussles broke out at the Western Wall Wednesday morning, during the first of a series of events planned by liberal Jewish groups for the day in protest of the ongoing restrictions on non-Orthodox worship at the foot of Judaism’s holiest site.
Video footage appeared to show at least 100 people joining the march and prayer service. The Israeli Reform movement said in a press release that “dozens” of Torah scrolls were carried into the women’s section.
The prayer and protest came, as always, at the start of the new month on the Hebrew calendar, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged liberal Jewish movements to refrain from voicing protest over the enduring status quo on worship at the Western Wall.
Video on social media showed scuffles Wednesday as some ultra-Orthodox onlookers and Western Wall officials lunged for the Torah scrolls carried by the protesters and attempted to physically bar them from entering the prayer area.
“The Western Wall won’t be the same Wall after today,” vowed Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform movement in Israel. “For the first time, women and men, Reform and Conservative Jews, secular and Orthodox, demand their right to enter the Western Wall. Today we liberated the Western Wall from the control of ultra-Orthodox. The ultra-Orthodox parties won’t decide for the rest of the Jewish people how to pray… We won’t acquiesce any longer to discrimination, to incitement, or to the the Israeli government’s shameful surrender to a small and aggressive minority.”
Check this organization, in which our Bogrim/ot (graduates) are active!
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-
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff