Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
The winter has officially arrived to Israel. 3 weeks ago we desperately prayed for the rains to come, and last week our prayers were answered! This week, we had a storm- thunders and lightening, crazy amounts of rains, winds, and even hail.
On Tuesday I traveled to visit the shnattim in their beautiful villa in Me'ona, and it was so great seeing them all J . The shnattim seem to have settled into their new villa, but it will take some adjustment to getting used to living with 12 other people around you, cooking, shopping, and of course- cleaning. The main highlights the shnattim mentioned are their host families, the varied volunteering, and their two brilliant madrichim- Amir and Elinor!
This week, the shnattim officially started going to their volunteering placements, which includes teaching in schools, working in a youth club, teaching English, dance, arts, and being in the local community centers. On Sundays, they volunteer together with the local Israeli gap- year (Shin-shins). On Tuesdays they go on day trips all over the Galilee, so they get to know the region, as well as some UJIA enterprises.
Well, routine is just around the corner, but… wait a minute…. next week we are going on a Hanukka break! Until then, wishing our shnattim a great week at volunteering and getting settled into this new chapter.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!
Weekly update by Emma Jacobs
A lot of us had been worried about the 'tikkun' period. It marks the start of our second chapter of shnat, our first big 'move' (which is hard with all the merchandise we're acquiring) and one of the biggest bouts of goodbyes we will have to say over these 8 months. It has the potential to be incredibly rewarding but also incredibly challenging.
With 13 teens (some, such as myself, with questionable hygiene standards) living in one house (4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms) it is proving to be a challenge. We are having to adjust to having no personal space and (partially due to our lack of wifi) have started to seek refuge and quiet in the local coffee shop/ burger restaurant. However, our havens' are unfortunately closed on Shabbat so we've been forced to learn to find peace within a household filled with constant laughter, flying footballs and random guests.
We're learning how to politely ask someone to stop napping on our beds or to stop running around the house late at night loudly screaming for some toilet paper. It's definitely a work in progress but the process is proving to be hilarious.
As time goes by we are starting to also settle in to routines. Chores such as balancing the budget/ shopping/ washing up are being fairly distributed as we realised, like the lazy teens we are, we'd otherwise just leave them. We're also trying to establish an 'intentional community' (without limiting people's rights to live their lives how they wish) by having asephot and learning how to be brutally honest with each other. The latter makes it feel like we're assimilating.
The intensities associated with sharing a house, cooking meals and the responsibility of locking the front door are balanced by our daily separation in to smaller groups. We have several activities as a whole group such as Hebrew classes and visiting moshavim on the Lebanese border but are separated for dinners with our host families and volunteering with schools, local moshavim and youth at risk.
Two main issues have arisen during our first week of volunteering; our lack of Hebrew/ Arabic and learning to accept very 'different' (potentially homophobic/ sexist/ racist) views. But we're trying to look beyond our language and ideological barriers and embrace the friendships we never thought we'd have with settlers, shinshins, Arab students and the dog next door. We're learning to leave our preconceptions at the door and enjoy the difficult but rewarding balagan which awaits us.
A letter from Rabbi Noa Sattath, IRAC
One of the defining questions of Jewish peoplehood in our time is: “Who is a Jew?” Recently, members of the Israeli government have been introducing legislation that would rollback many of the basic rights we have won over the past decades. The most recent target is the the right of Reform and Conservative converts in Israel to be recognized as Jews.
Fifteen years ago, we filed a lawsuit demanding that people converted by Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel be recognized as Jews and be granted Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. This past May, the Supreme Court granted status to Jews converted by private Orthodox rabbis (as opposed to the government-sponsored Orthodox Rabbinate). Following the ruling, we demanded equal treatment under the law. The court ordered the government to justify the rules that continue to discriminate specifically against us.
The government filed their answer this past Friday, and asked the court not to take action because the Interior Ministry supposedly intends to introduce new legislation to address the problem next year. The government did not offer any details about what their proposed bill would say, but we don’t need a crystal ball to predict bad news. We have been fighting for full recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions performed here and abroad since the 1980s. The government has tried to block us at every opportunity.
Our response will be clear: No more excuses. No more delays. We will ask the Supreme Court not to take the bait laid by the government, and to immediately give equal status to all Reform and Conservative converts in Israel.
We expect some of our fiercest battles during the upcoming year to take place in the Knesset. Legislators will try to pass laws undoing our greatest achievements. They will try to write statutes legalizing discrimination. We will have none of it and will use all of the tools at our disposal to respond.
IRAC is the only organization fighting for the rights of Reform and Conservative Jews by choice to have an equal place in Israel. Please take a minute to support our work against religious extremism. With your support, we will succeed in the courts and in the Knesset fighting for progressive Judaism in Israel.
Rabbi Noa Sattath
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-
I'm so happy to announce that another Shnat couple, Gareth (Netzer- SA) and Michal (RSY- Netzer, UK), who met on Shnat eight years ago, are now (finally) engaged!!! מזל טוב!!!! Well, we did say Shnat is about Jewish continuity , didn't we??
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
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