Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,

We hope you are well!

This week, a new chapter on Shnat started, as our Northern shnattim moved from Kibbutz Lotan, in the very south of Israel, to Ma'alot, which is close to the Lebanese boarded in the north of Israel. This change is huge- it is not only the geographic change, or the completely different and fresh landscape- the group now lives in one apartment, cooking ALL the meals for themselves (no more cheder ochel [dining hall]), doing their own shopping, and their main focus is VOLUNTEERING. In addition to all these changes, it is the notion that we are no longer so new in Israel anymore- we experience different things and live it like locals.

This week was about settling in and getting to know the volunteering placements, visiting the host families and being familiar with the area. Some things need some adjustments and fixing (wi-fi), but it definitely sounds like the group is settling in well!

Tomorrow, the group will celebrate their first Shabbat together in Ma'alot, including running their own services and going to their host families. May this be a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat.

Lotan and its people- you are missed! Amir, Elinor- thank you for the warm welcome of our group to the Galilee!

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!

Weekly update by Eve and Josh

We began the week with our final gardening session with Adam which involved complaining, weed picking and sawing down trees. Afterwards, we had our last session with the legendary Michal Livni, our reform zionist hero who held a fascinating discussion about the Netzer dilemma.

Our last few days on Lotan involved many photoshoots and goodbye’s. We spent kaballat shabbat and our final pub night in the desert with the rest of the Lotan community. After an amazing closed shabbat themed around the idea of community run by Becky, Asha and Emma, we all sat round the bonfire with our friends from Lotan reminiscing about our last 6 weeks in the Arava.

On sunday morning, we were greeted by a mini bus, to many of our horrors as we had been expecting a double decker lorry in order to fit our excessive amount of luggage consisting of around 5 bags each, 6 fans, 4 guitars and 3 crates of food. Despite our worry’s we fitted everything in and drove the length of the country to Ma’alot.

7 hours later we arrived in Ma’alot where we were welcomed by Amir and a delicious takeaway of schnitzel, hummus and potatoes. We spent the next few days exploring our new home in the north and visiting our volunteering placements.

We have already been struck by the difference and arguably injustice between the Jewish and Arab schools in terms of facilities and the number of teachers in relation to pupils.

The week finished with a delicious meal at our host families and an inspiring visit to a moshav at the Lebanese border where we spoke to families and soldiers about living in such a remote and risky area of Israel. Whilst many of us felt reluctant to leave the socialist, ecological and idealistic lifestyle of Lotan, we have quickly settled in to life in the north and we our eager to start volunteering next week.

Sharansky: Israel's failure to engage Diaspora Jews in dialogue a 'serious threat'

By JEREMY SHARON 12/02/2016 02:11, J. Post

Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Naran Sharansky said on Thursday that the State of Israel was failing to engage in dialogue with Diaspora Jewry and declared that such a situation was a serious threat to the idea of Jewish solidarity.

Sharansky was speaking at a conference of the Israel Democracy Institute dedicated to the concept of “re-evaluating the Boundaries of Jewish Identity,” in which an array of prominent public figures, religious leaders and academics examined the issue from various angles.“Communities can be different but if they feel like they are part of a historic process then this can be the basis of solidarity,” said Sharansky during a panel on viability of Jewish solidarity during a time of pluralism.

He pointed out that Jews around the world are fighting for Israel in many different ways, in particular against the campaign of delegitimization against the Jewish state that has taken root in recent years, but that Israel itself was not granting many of those Jews legitimacy.In particular he referenced the bitter war over the Western Wall, noting that the progressive Jewish leaders and the representatives of Israel’s religious establishment never met face to face but instead talked through the cabinet secretary who served as a mediator.

“This lack of dialogue is very harmful and is a real threat,” said Sharansky. “The fact that until now we have managed to preserve the solidarity of non-Orthodox Jews with Israel is due to our shared history, but it will not continue forever,” he warned.

Speaking in the same session as Sharansky, prominent American author and public intellectual Professor Michael Walzer argued that the State of Israel has failed to convey to the world the notion that it is a nation state and not a religious state, which he described as a failure of Zionism. “After all, the aim of Zionism was to establish a new Jewish nation that would include minorities who identify, to a greater or lesser extent, with the Zionist enterprise,” said Walzer. “Therefore, Zionism should have created a clear separation between Israel's national identity as a Jewish state and Judaism."

In an earlier session, the playwright Yehoshua Sobel argued that there is currently a global trend towards rigid group identification which he said was leading to a focus on nationalist identities and to the re-erection of barriers “which is leading to a decrease in tolerance and the culture of others,” saying such a trend was particularly noticeable in the US and France. In Israel, Sobel said that this trend had led to an embrace of an insular identity that “emphasizes the superficial shell instead of enriching the content within.”

Rabbi Yaakov Medan, a prominent religious-Zionist leader and dean of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, took aim at comments made by President Reuven Rivlin last year in which he warned that Israel was splintering into four different tribes, haredi, religious-Zionist, secular, and Arab.Medan said however that Rivlin had mixed up the ideas of tribes and peoples. “In Israel there are four tribes: secular, religious-Zionist, haredim, and the Jews of the Diaspora. The Arabs are a different people,” said the rabbi. Medan said that Jewish identity should be strengthen through Jewish descent from the Biblical forefathers, through “the power of Brit Milah [circumcision] and through the power of “ascent to Mount Moriah.” Continued the rabbi “If we go only in the direction of the new Jewish culture then I am very concerned for the preservation of Jewish identity in the future.”

Summing up the event, IDI Vice President Professor Yedidya Stern said that one of the biggest challenges to Jewish identity was that a large proportion of Jews to draw from the Jewish past or traditions, however that is defined, to define their Judaism or Jewish identity. “If we don’t work to preserve Jewish heritage it will cease to exist, firstly in the Diaspora and secondly in Israel, and this would be a tragedy,” said Stern. He said that several projects needed to be undertaken to avoid such a situation such as uploading “the entire canon of Jewish literature to the internet and the development of an index to allow easy access to it.

Forums for discussing current affairs from a Jewish perspective could also be established, as well as projects that deal with human rights issues around the world in accordance with the Jewish heritage.

Such initiatives could connect Jews around the world from all backgrounds and denominations with “the Jewish past” and help preserve Jewish identity and solidarity. http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Sharansky-Israels-failure-to-engage-Diaspora-Jews-in-dialogue-a-serious-threat-474254

Please join us for the Veida Olamit opening!!

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-


Glimpse into the last Shacharit service at Kibbutz Lotan

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

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Masa Gap Year programs offer college-bound high school graduates a year of valuable life experience before college, with Israel providing the perfect environment for them to explore their interests, identity, and future steps. Through a combination of academic coursework, volunteering, traveling, and an immersive experience in Israeli society, Fellows return home with the life skills to make the most out of their college experience. Learn more about Masa here.

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© 2016 Orit Sagi, Netzer Olami, Photography by Danit Ariel & Roy Elman