Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
This week's update is dedicated to Shnat Ma'ayan South 2016, who finished their Shnat program last night! The end of our program is always a very emotional time for everyone- the shnattim who are going back home, the parents who get to have their son/ daughter back, the staff that says Lehitra'ot (see you), the home branches who have these amazing, talented and knowledgeable leaders back, the next group of shnattim who are still in Israel. It is exciting and sad at the same time, and causes an emotional turmoil- but a good one- the one you grow better from.
We want to wish the now ex-shnattim much luck on their journey from now on, as Shnat Netzer is only one part of a life journey. We know you are stronger people now, and can't wait to see you bring changes into the movement and make a positive change in the world. To our Northerner Nof group- we hope you took what you needed from this special encounter with the Southerners, and make the most out of your own personal journey.
This is also a great opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to the Shnat Netzer staff- Rinat, Orit, Danit, Ady and Maoz- it is a real pleasure working with you and this year is better because of you.
Ma'ayaniks- we love you each- Ayanda, Bec, Ben, Ella, Henry, Jordon, Judith- our first French Shnatti!!!, Maxine, Mia, Mikaela, Nancye, Noa, Olivia, Rochelle, Rosa and Tamara, and know you are going back to god hands, loving snifim (branches) and people.
A farewell letter to Shnat Maayan – remember the future
By Ady Blum
I've decided to write this letter, just as we finished our first Shabbat dinner with the cutest Shnat Nof on their Klita seminar. We were glad to have with us for the weekend few of the southerners Ma'ayaniks. They informed me that they have spent their morning writing how they see the relations between every pillar of The Netzer Ideology to Socialism. Seeing the spark in their eyes when they told me that made me fall in love with them once again.
You told me that I inspired you to do so. Right now, I'm deeply inspired by you. On Lotan, a part from the hard-manual labor, sharing your life with dozens of other community members, making dinners for the whole Kibbutz, far away from the Netzer office and its tzevet, you didn't let fatigue fail you. you made a self-educating process about the whole concept of Socialism, and came out with a detailed and profound understanding of your stands and your aims for the movement.
During your Shnat you knew ups and downs, and you faced serious social challenges. But You worked on the intellectual level without neglecting the day to day social life as a kvutsa, without forgetting the real people that are with you. even if in the end not everything was solvable, your sensitivity led you to realize, almost intuitively, that working on your social-dynamics, on making your Kvutsa a better place for everyone, has something to do with the wider ideology and its BIG questions. That is, my friends, the pure definition of Hagshama. Live your personal life in the perspective of your ideology and its guidelines and demands.
The ability to work hard and take seriously the mundane tasks, while keep asking the big questions and forging your answers to them through studying, discussing, and practicing them together – that is the Zionist spirit. That's Chalutziut.
However, I believe this could have only happen after the melting pot you got into with Ma'ayan north. Two groups with such different characteristics, and yet it's impossible to imagine the process of the one without the other. You had, though, at least one very important common feature – taking this journey seriously, and having a non-compromised strive for a moral truth. The ideas you've discussed together, the creative perspectives of life that you introduced, have set the foundations to wonderful and unprecedented achievements on Shnat. Achievements that came from your own initiative and on top of what the program facilitated and demanded from you. achievements that can only imply what you will do in our movement as Madrichim, Rakazim and all the other roles (which I'm pretty sure you'll come up with new ones as well).
Now when the southern organ is leaving, Shnat Ma'ayan has officially come to an end. Nevertheless, Maayan is still kicking out there in the world – a potential energy, a spirit that looks for its new realizations.
I'm looking forward and curious to see where will you take our movement, what revolutionary path you will create together for others. And be noted – from a cohort like you we expect nothing less than a REVOLUTIONARY path.
"מעיין גנים, באר מים חיים"
"Maayan Ganim, Be'er Mayim Haim" – a spring of growing gardens, a dwell of vital water.
May this words be a certificate of your lives.
Much love and appreciation,
Here are some words of wisdom written by our Southern shnattim, for the opening Tekkes (ceremony) of our closing seminar
Weekly update by Becky and Asha
The politics of pastry by Emma Jacobs
Walking through the Arab shuk is an explosive experience. The narrow streets are filled with the smell of sumac and shouts of ‘akhi’ (my brother).
On Friday morning I walked with my parents and the masses down in the direction of the mosque before morning prayers.
As we walked I laughed to my mum about how I’d been told not to walk these streets, how as a young Jew I wouldn’t be welcome there. It’s hard not to feel naive and sheltered when your perception can be changed so quickly. The energy of the street was as dynamic as other parts of the shuk- the only difference being the dialect, dress and political beliefs. Despite the same clothes and tat (from factories abroad) being sold in a similar way the Arab and Israeli quaters have a very different feel. I don’t want to feel unsafe, I feel that Jews and Arabs should be equal and that a two state solution can/ should be achieved. But I couldn’t help the gut feeling that I wasn’t the desired clientele.
Just as quickly as my prejudices had been broken down they were built back up again. When my dad enquired about a flaky pastry, calling them ‘borekas’ (בורקס) as opposed to the Arabic name ofbörek, it was quickly picked up on and met with an incredibly negative reception.
The shopkeeper quickly asked ‘if you’re Jewish why are you speaking in English’. Speaking in Hebrew, it was as if he was trying to prove he’d ‘seen through us’ and that he was having none of it. The irony was that his anger had been fuelled entirely by a misinterpretation. Yes I’m a Jew, but having grown up in London English is the only language I can speak. As opposed to ‘lying about our identities’ as he claimed we were just communicating as we usually do.
After we walked swiftly away from the shouting man, and my dad received a telling off from my mum, we reached the christian quarter. Despite the current raucous around archeological findings in the church of the holy sepulchre, calm had been restored. It’s a funny feeling when you go from a country that hasn’t experienced war in years to feeling safe when you see an IDF solider leaning cooly against a wall coying his gun and wishing us a shabbat shalom. It’s funny how in a country where everyone claims it’s all ‘ahla’ and ‘sababa’, the energy can suddenly switch. Politics here extends to pastries and unfortunately mere semantics can change someone’s perception of you and your feeling of safety. I’ve started to realise Israel’s a balagan and way too complex to try to understand 3 weeks in. All I hope is that peace and pastry will soon by availiable to everyone who wants them.
Pursuing the Final Straw
By Ben Reiff, RSY- Netzer and Shnat Netzer graduate
How many straws does it take to break a camel’s back? At Yachad Youth we’re keen to find out. But, with no desire to mutilate any camels, we’ve set our sights on the occupation.
I am, by nature, an optimist. So when I look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation that is approaching its 50th year, I don’t despair at the seemingly interminable suffering nor am I consumed by hatred or fear of the ‘other’. Instead I seek to identify and support the opportunities emerging with the greatest potential to bring peace to the region.
As I see it, there are five main ways in which pressure is being applied on the Israeli government to end occupation – three of which are ineffective and two of which could have a real impact.
The first ineffective tactic is Palestinian violence, which must be totally rejected by all. Seeking the harm of civilians cannot be the means through which any goal is achieved, and throughout Israel’s existence Palestinian violence has achieved only a hardening of Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians and the occupation, which consequently garners support for…
Ineffective source of pressure number 2: international anti-Israel protest movements like BDS. While certainly the nonviolence of BDS is preferable to the violence we see perpetrated in the region to achieve a similar goal, the BDS movement is not peace-building, and actually inadvertently perpetuates occupation. By seeking to delegitimise Israel entirely (through blanket boycotts) it silences the critical, anti-occupation voices within Israel, while also playing into Bibi Netanyahu and the right’s “the world is against us” rhetoric. Clearly, like violence, BDS is counter-productive to its own aims.
The third, equally ineffective source is international pressure from other states. The US regularly asserts its disapproval of Israeli government actions, but this has failed to produce any change in policy or any real progress in the peace process. Further, the recent UNESCO resolution sponsored by Lebanon and Tunisia, in which Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (site of Judaism’s First and Second Temples) are ignored completely, also does nothing more than serve Bibi’s agenda (like violence; like BDS).
So do any means of pressure exist that can truly have a positive impact? The first possibility is pressure from NGOs and grassroots organisations within Israel: from Jewish organisations working to put human rights abuses in the occupied territories under the spotlight (see: B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, Rabbis for Human Rights and Machsom Watch); to organisations bringing Israeli Jews and Palestinians together through dialogue and action (see: Shorashim, Parents Circle Families Forum, Women Wage Peace and Combatants for Peace); to quasi-political movements for change (see: Darkenu and Two States One Homeland). Each of these plays a niche and vital role, and their effect is powerful and growing. The B’Tselem head’s speech at the UN last week riled the government to such an extent that there have been calls for his citizenship to be revoked. In other words, the actions of these organisations are making the government sit up and take notice.
The final source – which is potentially the most important and least utilised – is international pressure from the pro-Israel community within the diaspora. We’ve seen it recently in America with the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence and their Occupation is Not Our Judaism campaign, and this is also where Yachad and the Partners to Peace campaign comes in. We have set the target of raising £8,000 for Palestinian organisation Holy Land Trust, which trains young Palestinians in methods of nonviolent resistance. And we need your support.
There is power in the diaspora, and with power comes influence. A study from earlier this year proved that 71% of the British Jewish community sees a two-state solution as the only viable means to achieving peace; what would it look like if all of those 71% (c. 190,000 by conservative estimates) spoke out? What would it look like if the entire pro-Israel, anti-occupation diaspora spoke out? Where this differs from ineffective anti-Israel BDS-style protests is that it can’t be dismissed by Bibi and the right as anti-Zionist or antisemitic. We are Jews and we are Zionists, lest anyone (least of all Bibi) tell us we’re not.
Of course the Partners to Peace campaign is not going to end the occupation, and we’re under no illusion that it is. But what it is doing is adding to the cumulative pressure being applied on the Israeli government from both within Israel-Palestine and the Zionist/Jewish diaspora – and the two must work hand in hand. This presents the government with a choice: continue doing what you’re doing, and watch as the world realises that you are not in fact working in the interests of the world’s Jews and Zionists as you so claim; or react. React to the fears and concerns not of the anti-Israel movement, but of the adamantly pro-Israel movement. The weight of straw is building upon the back of the Israeli government, and eventually it will buckle.
To those eager to label us as anti-Zionist or anti-Israel, I ask this: what could be more Zionist, and more pro-Israel, than seeking the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel, and ending the occupation that has turned so much of the world against Israel? (And by the way, pro-Palestinian does not mean anti-Israel.) Others will refuse to accept that anything remotely Palestinian could possibly be peaceful, and to those I implore you: look at the Holy Land Trust (among plenty of others). Look at the work they’re doing, and their desire to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict. If you’re still pessimistic then maybe you should ask yourself if you’ve already given up on peace.
We want to see a secure, democratic and moral Israel which does speak for us. We are not standing idly by, allowing the occupation to continue indefinitely. And because others are not, we’re finding partners to peace.
On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, Tuesday, November 2, 2016, the World Union represented global voices of Reform and Progressive Jews at the Kotel to march for Jewish religious rights.
"It was an exhilarating moment," reflected Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). "To march with more than a dozen Torah scrolls through security and towards the Wall," he continued, "and then to pass those scrolls to the Women of the Wall was an inspiring and reaffirming moment. This is why we work so hard - to bring together the global voices of Progressive Judaism to stand together for recognition and validation of all Jews of all streams of Judaism."
Among the 200 individuals marching were Reform, Progressive, Liberal and Conservative rabbis and leaders from around the world including ARZENU, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), Netzer young adults, NFTY EIE students, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), and Women of the Wall, all led by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).
The protest arose in response to continued delays by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in implementing changes to the Western Wall plaza and management that would render the holy site inclusive of egalitarian Reform and Conservative prayer groups.
"We marched unsure of the outcome, holding tightly to the Torah Scrolls, while Kotel security agents tried to wrestle them from our arms. We were very aware of the fact that this would be a historic moment: either we would succeed in bringing multiple Torah scrolls to the women's section for the first time, or we would be confronted by authorities at the entrances and denied access."
Leaders of ARZENU then joined with 250 delegates at the World Zionist Organization (WZO) Zionist General Council (ZGC) to have our Progressive voices heard in the development of Zionist directions, policies and programming. Yaron Shavit, Vice Chair of the WUPJ Management Committee and member of the Executive of the WZO ZGC, coordinated the ARZENU efforts at the WZO conference.
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-
Last time I hear these lovelies on a Ma'amad (creative prayer) :)
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
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