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

We hope you are well!

This will be the first weekly update of the 5777' winter, which officially started yesterday! It will also be the last update before Hanukka, Christmas and Eid (to read more- http://www.freemuslims.org/news.php?id=3582 ).

On Saturday night we will light the first candle of the Hanukkiya, and this year- we need a lot of light! In the corners below, you will find a lot of light in stories that make us proud and warm our hearts. May we always see the bright side of things and believe that miracles can happen.

Chag same'ach to all!

Weekly update by Tom and Jessica

By Ady Blum, Etgar director and project manager, Netzer

Last Sunday our former Etgarnik and Shnattie, Sharon Berhovski from Shnat Ma'ayan, was drafted to the IDF. She did so after making Aliya officially and joining Garin Tzabar- a group of people who come from abroad to join the army and have a joint journey and a social support for one another along the way.

Sharon made this decision not from an extreme nationalistic sentiment, but rather from a very genuine sense of connection to, and partnership with the Israeli society, its land, its history and its Jewish state. She chose to realize this sense of connection through an act of adding responsibility on her shoulders; through "getting under the stretcher" (as said in the IDF), and sharing the burden Israelis have to carry.

Sharon has chosen to take part not just in the milk & honey Israel can offer, but also in the toll and the toil it demands for its existence. Sharon doesn't turn a blind eye to the policy of "maintaining" the occupation the IDF has to carry out, and the militaristic trends that sometimes grow under its wings. We spent a year talking about all these. But it has not deterred her as she also understands that the IDF doesn't exist for the sake of the occupation. She realizes its higher, more substantial and moral purpose. I believe she also has an intuitive understanding that in order to change trends in your people, it is firstly required to stand with them in times of truth, to share the burden every individual in our society faces in her and his own life.

Dear Sharon,

I met you 3 years ago, when I was a movement worker in Noar Telem (Netzer's Israeli branch), organizing a seminar together with Netzer Germany. On that week in Israel, we talked about Chalutziut (pioneering), and being an avant-garde to our people. I remember how meaningful it was for you being with Reform-Zionist Israelis; how you didn't feel a stranger but quite the opposite. I must be honest, I remember this because you told me that…

During the seminar your Shlicha, Haggar, asked me to encourage you to go on a Hadracha course next summer, so you would become a Madricha. You refused to do so by saying that you "really love Netzer and enjoy being a chanicha" but you "don't want the responsibility". Like Peter Pan in Neverland, you wanted to stay a chanicha as long as you can. I replied to you by saying two things: A) you will become a Madricha, and B) you'll be a great Madricha.

What can I say- the Madrich is never wrong. Furthermore, after Shnat you made sure you will be able to lead camp in Netzer Germany, before you will go to the army. You were worried your investment in Netzer and in coming on Shnat will be in vain for the movement you grew up in.

Sharon dear, this is an amazing process of a member in our movement– starting from being a devoted yet annoying Chanicha and slowly growing and becoming a person who takes responsibility over her life, movement and people. A person who realizes that someone needs to sow in tears so we all can harvest with joy, and that "someone" means no one if it won't be yourself first. And that is what Zionism is all about.

This Channuka you will light the candle of Hagshama, of Jewish partnership and personal courage to walk out of the comfort zone to an "unknown territory". May your time in the IDF be as easy as possible, may it be meaningful and rewarding, and may it open for you a more profound path to a life in Israel and to the Israeli society.

We love you and appreciate you so much,

And we are here for you.

Take care (that's an order!) and בהצלחה!


Israelis Have Crowdfunded a Million Shekels for Syrian Children in Less Than a Week

Israel’s government is also exploring ways to bring injured Syrians to its hospitals

By Yair Rosenberg

December 20, 2016 • 4:25 PM

Today (Wednesday), responding to the human catastrophe unfolding in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to devise ways for the Jewish state to increase humanitarian aid to its neighbor’s victims. “We have already treated thousands of wounded from the tragedy in Syria,” Netanyahu said at a press meeting. “I want us to find ways of bringing women, children and also men, if they are non-combatants, from Aleppo for treatment in Israeli hospitals.”

But Israelis haven’t been waiting for their government to act on behalf of beleaguered Syrians: They’ve already crowdfunded a million shekels (approximately $250,000) for Syrian children. The “Just Beyond Our Border” campaign was launched this past Thursday and has shot well past its 600,000 shekel goal with over a month left to the campaign. As of this publication, it has raised 983,147 NIS. (UPDATE: Now 1,009,686 NIS.) The funds will go towards medicines, blankets, clothing, food, infant formula, and other essentials for Syrians and their children.

The campaign was launched with this arresting Hebrew video: “We must see the truth that is in front of our eyes,” the narrator states. Supporting the children of Syria, he continues, stems from Israelis’ “Jewish obligation, human obligation, and moral obligation not to look away and to extend a hand.”

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet and the editor of the English-language blog of the Israeli National Archives.

We are so proud of our bogerim, Ella G., Jake C. and Charley K. (far right in the below photo), who sent us this article, after being at the protest.

Syrians surprised as Jewish students join Aleppo protest

By Robert Cusack

The Jewish Students Union protesters near Downing Street on Thursday [TNA]

"Growing up in Syria, I was told by the Assad regime that we hate Jews," said Abu Moussa, speaking under a fake name for "safety reasons". "It was the way they controlled us through education and ideologies."

A crowd of Jewish students and Syrians gathered at a protest against the Aleppo crisis on Thursday night, opposite the home of the Prime Minister in London. The two sides, suspicious at first, started meeting up and numerous conversations sprung up over a common interest- the Assad regime and its war-crimes in Aleppo.

Minutes previously, the Jewish Students' Union had arrived to a stunned reception - dozens of eyes fixated on the Star of David and many seemed unsure of how to respond. Some of the Syrian organisers were furious at the cameras now focussed on the students - "We'll become linked! People will think we're part of the conspiracy," came one voice - the protest chants continued on regardless.

Arab-Jewish relations have had a troubled history in the Middle East. After centuries of relative coexistence, anti-semitism spread across the Middle East in the wake of the creation of Israel and its subsequent occupation of Palestinian territories and treatment of the Palestinian people. Jewish communities in the Arab world came under increasing pressure, eventually forcing an exodus of Jews from Yemen to Morocco via Iraq. Year after year, alarming levels of admiration for Nazism and Holocaust denial are reported in Arab and Muslim countries, where teaching of history is heavily politicised. Some leaders and clerics have spoken fondly of the actions of Adolf Hitler, most recently Turkish President Erdogan, while this reporter has spotted school children in Arab countries wearing wrist-bands with the Nazi swastika.

Arab and Jewish communities have not mixed very often as a result and when the two groups came to mix at a peace rally in London the resulting emotion was one of utmost fascination.

"I'm sorry!" said Abu Moussa, turning with embarrassment to the Jewish students that surrounded him, "I don't hate Jews any more." "I strongly disagree with what the Israeli government is doing and I'm supportive to the Palestinian resistance- anyone who kills civilians, in fact. "But I don't have a problem with anyone who is Jewish just because they're Jewish."

The Jewish community in the UK has been one of the largest supporters of the Syrian rebels. World Jewish Relief has raised more than £1 million in the UK for refugees - one of the largest amounts raised by a small community.

When asked if he was prepared to share his conversation with Jewish people on social media however, Abu Moussa and his friend were adamant that they could not post for safety reasons. "I can share with a few friends individually but of course I absolutely cannot post this on social media because I have friends who are close-minded," said his friend. The New Arab spoke with a number of the Jewish protestors at the rally, to understand if they had felt welcome or not. "It's not important if we were made to feel welcome," said Jake Cohen, a student at UCL. "That's not up to them to make us welcome - it's up to us how we feel." Cohen and a number of other students from various cities across England said that they had come to show solidarity with the Syrian cause, not for any other reason. "We in the Jewish community know more than any other community the importance of protecting against genocide," said Cohen.


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-


A glimpse into the session our Shnat Netzer Nof North had at Bar'am, pre-army academy this week-

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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