Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
This week we have a different update, as our shnattim are currently on a well- needed Hanukkah break. First candle of Hanukkah was lit last Saturday night, and most of our shnattim left their home base in Ma'alot, and started their journeys across the country.
Some found themselves in Haifa, spending time in this gorgeous city, touring around, and being real Israelis, going to a football match
Some went to Nazareth for Christmas eve
Some came to Jerusalem, and a couple went to the Woman of The Wall Hanukkah candle lighting. As Becky wrote: "Incredibly special evening at the Kotel with the Women of the Wall lighting the 4th Chanukah candle. Very little counter protesting so we were able to sing, pray and light our candles in peace ❤️"
A couple traveled all the way to south Israel, to Kibbutz Lotan, to work and spend time in this magnificent Kibbutz
Some travel around Israel with their parents, and hopefully being spoiled rotten!!
All in all- a wonderful week across Israel.
Next week, they will all return to Ma'alot, and will have one more month till they move to the holy city- Jerusalem. But that will be in a while. We still have one month full of volunteering, exploring the north of Israel, learning about ourselves and our community, getting to know Israelis and learning how to live as a community.
Chag Same'ach and Shabbat Shalom!
ZFA Statement on UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements
Dr. Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia
The United States under the outgoing administration in its "lame duck" period has failed to veto a United Nations Security Council Resolution which effectively declares the 1967 lines to be sacrosanct and any building beyond those lines including in the Old City of Jerusalem illegal.
The resolution cuts across the 1967 UNSC Resolution 242 and its call for a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Israel and its neighbours "within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" and will inevitably make diplomatic efforts to bring about peace more difficult to achieve in the future.
The current Palestinian leadership which has consistently refused to sit down at the negotiation table with Israel in recent years now has absolutely no incentive to do so as a result of the passing of this resolution and will continue to incite its people to violence in spite of it.
In the past two decades, Israel alone has tried to advance the two state solution and resolve final status issues such as the settlements in 2000-2001 and again in 2008 only to be rebuffed by the Palestinian leadership. Yet Israel alone is condemned by the Security Council for a situation which cannot be ended without direct and meaningful negotiations.
In the words of American jurist Alan Dershowitz the failure by President Obama to veto the resolution at this time is "counterproductive to peace and undemocratic in nature," and should rightly be repudiated.
Netanyahu: Israel ready to take in wounded Syrians from Aleppo
By BY RAPHAEL AHREN
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he instructed his government to find ways to extend medical assistance to Syrians injured in the latest round of fighting, especially those from the embattled city of Aleppo. “We see the tragedy of terrible suffering of civilians and I’ve asked the Foreign Ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian casualities of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo where we’re prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they’re not combatants,” Netanyahu told foreign journalists during a meeting in Jerusalem.
“We’d like to do that: Bring them to Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we’ve done with thousands of Syrian civilians. We’re looking into ways of doing this; it’s being explored as we speak.”
Addressing foreign reporters and diplomats at the Government Press Office’s annual New Year’s reception, Netanyahu said he sees no end of the fighting and that he could not imagine a peaceful resolution to the civil war that would restore the pre-war status quo. “Do I see a resolution of the Syrian situation? No,” he said emphatically. “It’s certainly not going to be one happy Syria, that’s for sure. Will it be a united Syria? I doubt it. You have enclaves there and I don’t think they’re about to disappear.”
There is great suffering among the country’s civilian population, but there is very little Israel could do to help them, the prime minister added. “I don’t know if we can resolve [the Syrian civil war]. But we can help mitigate some of the suffering, that’s the best that Israel can do.”
Israel and its northern neighbour have formally been at war for decades but following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war it has been treating casualties, including wounded fighters. More than 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, according to the Israeli army.
The host of the event, GPO director Nitzan Chen, also addressed “untold suffering” in Syria, saying that “our hearts go out” to the country’s civilians and expressing the wish that “the new year will bring speedy end of their suffering.”
In his remarks, Netanyahu also announced more travel plans. In 2017, he would like to visit China to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations. His last visit to the country was in 2013. He also said he received an invitation to go to attend a conference of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where he plans to meet with 15 leaders from the continent. Additionally, he said he plans on accepting an invitation to Eastern Europe to meet with four heads of state and to travel to the “big three” countries of Latin America, though it was not clear which states he was referring to.In February, Netanyahu is set to embark on a 10-day trip to Singapore, Australia and Fiji.
Asked by a reporter whether his personal attacks on certain Israeli journalists who have criticized him was the best strategy to engage them, the prime minister replied jokingly: “I don’t know, it’s the most entertaining. It’s fun. I enjoy it.”
More seriously, he said that he believes in a free press and that it is every journalist’s right to criticize the government. But Netanyahu added that he in turn has the right to lambast the press when he believes he’s subjected to unfair scrutiny and to break up “monopolies” in the Israeli media market.
AFP contributed to this report
First Tikkun Olam Seminar in Brazil Mobilizes Netzer in Latin America for Social and Environmental Action
On December 9-11, 2016, the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Latin America (WUPJ-LA) led its first Tikkun Olam seminar for young adults in Brazil. Thirteen participants from different parts of the country came together to work and share moments of learning, respect and deep connection with activists from the town of Regencia Augusta (or, as it is affectionately called, "Regencia") in Espírito Santo, Brazil.
The contaminated waters of the Rio Doce near Regencia, Brazil
Located at the mouth of the Doce River, Regencia was hit over a year ago by the mudslides of the nearby Samarco mining dams which buried the city of Mariana and ran along the Rio Doce carrying with it a trail of destruction that released heavy minerals into the waters. The beaches of the village, considered one of the ten best in the country for surfing, once provided steady tourism revenue for the village. However, today the reality is quite different: tourism has come to a halt, forcing inns and restaurants to close, and stagnating the local economy. The village is struggling to counteract and overcome the environmental disaster, but the task is daunting and will require long-term solutions and regional efforts.
Participants of the first Tikkun Olam seminar in Regencia, Brazil
The Tikkun Olam seminar is predicated upon one of the most striking expressions of Reform Judaism: that our social responsibility translates into actions of repair and restoration; into weaving learning and text study; and into community building for maximum effort and impact. Responding to the need in Regencia, WUPJ-LA and Netzer, the World Union’s global Reform Zionist youth movement, partnered with Hillel Rio, Hashomer Hatzair, and local synagogues, with the support of the Jewish Agency and TaMaR, and organized a seminar that would combine Tikkun Olam action in Regencia with Jewish identity exploration and youth engagement activities.
Hosting the seminar in Regencia was Instituto Unidos pela Vida (IUPV) which was established in 2016 to welcome children and the youth of Regencia who lost their main entertainment, sports and leisure equipment - the Rio Doce and the sea – in the flooding. IUPV promotes artistic, social and educational activities in the region and at its headquarters – La Casa Rosa (“The Pink House”).
Participants of the first Tikkun Olam seminar in Regencia, Brazil listen to local organizations and villagers discuss the impact of the contamination of the Rio Doce on the village
Together, WUPJ-LA and IUPV developed a program that enabled participants to understand the impact of the natural disaster on the local village and take action in a meaningful way. For the World Union this was a pioneering initiative with the IUPV and it served as a test run of this concept for future initiatives in Social Tourism for both organizations. Supporting Casa Rosa’s activists and their programs in education, labor, and awareness was also one of the main goals of the seminar.
Seminar participants spent their first day visiting the village, meeting with locals, repairing doors, cleaning yards, painting walls, planting gardens, studying Jewish texts, singing, and praying together. Participants were asked to bring books and games from their home communities to establish the Institute's library, which provided much-needed resources for the recreational activities of the participants and locals.
Jewish text study with participants of the first Tikkun Olam seminar in Regencia, Brazil
Jewish text study, integrated with activities throughout the seminar, focused the role of water in our lives – literally and metaphorically. From the Torah’s story of creation to modern Jewish philosophers like Rambam, participants explored water in Jewish writings – the role of water in social responsibility toward each other, toward others, and toward Mother Nature, and how power over water and water diplomacy serves individuals, communities, and even countries like Israel and elsewhere in the world.
Marcelo Vilela, President of IUPV, recounted his personal involvement with establishing IUPV, his challenges, achievements, and dreams. Board members of IUPV and local activists also participated in study sessions. Hauley S. Valim, a university professor and environmental and political activist, spoke to seminar participants about current efforts to form alliances among the various areas affected by this environmental disaster, and how some of the strategies adopted by Samarco in the aftermath of the dam disruption have led to deep divisions among the affected social groups.
Participants of the first Tikkun Olam seminar in Regencia, Brazil restoring villagers’ homes
As participant Júlia Herszenhut from Brasília noted, “We as Jews and human beings have a duty to help those in need, in any way we can give, whether going out in the field and working hands-on, donating or simply becoming the ambassadors of what we saw there and increasing visibility. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and hope to be able to continue transforming and improving those in need.”
Rodrigo Baumworcel, Director of Netzer for Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries at the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), who traveled from Israel to Brazil to lead the groundbreaking seminar, spoke of the inspiring dedication of all involved and the way the seminar impacted and motivated the Jewish young adults in particular. “For three days, Judaism and social action were one thing: From Kabbalat Shabbat to Havdalah, we experienced two days of soul-inflating. And for the overall three days, the dirty waters of Samarco turned into sweat – physical and spiritual – as we worked on behalf of Casa Rosa, the villagers and our belief in Tikkun Olam.”
"I thank you for my participation as a representative of Congregação Israelita Capixaba (CICAPI) at the first Tikkun Olam seminar organized by WUPJ-LA,” expressed participant Blima Fux, Victoria.
Owing to the success of this initial seminar, WUPJ-LA, WUPJ and Netzer hope to lead similar impact-generating seminars for youth and young adults in the region in coming years.
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-
Check out this lovely song!!
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
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