Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
North America Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) is the youth movement of The Reform Union in North America (URJ). Some of NFTY's pillars are Reform Judaism, Zionism and social action. In other words- NFTY is the sister movement of Netzer in North America (a much more established and more experienced sister, that is….). Back in the 90s, there was a move to bring our two movements closer together, and in the 2005 Netzer Olami Veida, NFTY adopted the Netzer platform and confirmed that it is a branch of the worldwide youth movement of the Progressive Movement. According to people who were there, that took a lot of convincing and hard work, but it was accepted.
Ever since that decision was made, we had a few collaborations between Netzer Olami and NFTY. For example:
- Having participants from North America on the Shnat Netzer program- 40 of them up until today!
- Delegates from NFTY participate yearly on the Netzer Olami Veida and more
- Netzer graduates going to lead on Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) camps in North America
- Participation in the traditional Netzerfest summer event Netzer Olami ran
This week I was a guest at the NFTY Convention in Chicago, hosting 1000 people (!!!) from North America, the majority of which are youth! The 3 day convention was a celebration of youth, activism and Judaism. My main purpose for this trip was to get to know NFTY and how it works, and network. It was fascinating to be a part of such a well-organized and professional event. Seeing 1000 people join together for Shabbat services, singing their lounges out, speaking about pluralism in Israel and how to be activists- well, everything we believe in.
Shabbat morning Torah Service
Together with me there was one more special person- Nadav Shachmon. Nadav is the Director of Noar- Telem, the Israeli Netzer branch. He is also a former Shaliach (emissary) to the Progressive movement and Netzer in Melbourne Australia, and a friend. Nadav took part in running an activity about pluralism in Israel, telling his own experience about same- sex marriage in Israel.
I got a chance to speak with people who never heard of Netzer and others who were there in the 2005 veida and pushed the whole move; I met a few youngsters considering taking a gap year and two graduates of the Shnat Netzer program, who are currently URJ workers! I met camp directors who are in Israel at least once a year; people who were never in Israel; and Israeli Shlichim (emissaries) who bring Israel with them to the communities.
It just felt like…. HOME. It felt very familiar, very Netzer style event, just much bigger.
From left to right: Miriam Chilton (URJ Vice President/ Youth), Rabbi Reuven Greenvald- Director of Israel engagement at the URJ, Lior Argaman- Shnat Netzer Director at Netzer Olami, Nadav Shachmon- Noar Telem Director and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President
One of the most insightful things was to see the NFTY Board in action- seeing their influence on the youth, their level of understanding and communication with the professional staff, and standing for what they believe in. A great way to learn more about it, is to read the piece on the "International" corner below, written by two of the NFTY board, who was just recently in Israel for the Netzer Olami Veida.
Next year's NFTY Board announcement
It was also a great pleasure to get a chance to speak with EIE graduates- high school students who spent a semester learning in Israel, who are now doing a course with ARZA.
Naomi Segal, a Shnat Netzer graduate and a Youth and Family Engagement Director at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, speaking to EIE graduates
It feels there is room for a lot more to be done, and so much potential in this collaboration. I believe this is one more step towards strengthening the relationship with NFTY and the URJ, and hope we will have many more collaborations in the future, being part of the largest stream in Judaism.
And so it happened that during the convention, there was a protest taking place in front of the Trump building in Chicago. Definitely interesting times to be there!!
At the Trump protest in Chicago
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!
Weekly update by Adam Keren-Black
Our first week in the Etgar flat has certainly been a full one. We’ve done such a lot together, learning about Zionism, Judaism, gender and far more than I could list, and the learning has certainly not only been in our structured programs. Personally, in our non-structured time I learnt how to play the game of backgammon and also that I can enjoy drinking cocktails.
I also think we’ve already started to learn a lot about each other (more than we might wish in some instances). I suppose it’s inevitable that, thrust into this strange new world of ideology and hagshama and very dirty floors, we’d find ourselves having new experiences and new kinds of interactions with each other, perhaps more meaningful than we had previously had. But I still reckon that we’ve done a good job so far in creating a positive and supportive environment where people can be comfortable, voice any concerns they may have and just have fun together.
This was particularly highlighted over Shabbat, when we had our fellow Noffies from Machon over. We had a lovely Shabbat service together, had a much-appreciated and enjoyed dinner (thanks Tilda!) and played a few board games. A few of the Machonniks made comments along the lines of, “Is it this nice here all the time?” That was a nice reinforcement to the notion that we’re doing a good job here. Though they have been complaining about the smell a little.
Our madrichim shavua, Joshi and Sara, decided to set a theme for this week, and the theme they chose was ‘kindness’. We’ve been doing what on Netzer camp is called ‘Fairy Friends’ – every person in the flat receives someone else’s name, and secretly does nice things for them (though I sorta blew my cover after the very first thing I did, whoops). I have received pictures of my three favourite Harry Potter characters (Lupin, Luna and Hermione) set over my bed, which I very much appreciate (thanks whoever that was)!
I have been learning a lot, and having fun while doing it, in our structured programs too. We’ve had two Hebrew lessons so far, and while a lot of it’s stuff I’ve come across before at King David School, it is nice to review the basics given that the last time I had a Hebrew lesson was five years ago. We’ve also been learning some fascinating things about binyanim (literally buildings), the vowel structures that most Hebrew verbs conform to, that I never knew before. A particularly enjoyable program was our first Gender and Us class, in which we were split into two groups and each had to raise a child, while progressing through a Game of Life-style board and being presented with dilemmas relating to gender stereotypes and the pressures they put on us.
Another particularly enjoyable session was our first ‘Think Tank’ with Ady. This isn’t a typical class with a set subject matter, but rather an excuse for Ady to bamboozle us with difficult questions (just to be clear, I really enjoyed it a lot). This week, we were asked what gives us the right to educate, mostly in a Netzer context but also in general, and we jumped headlong into moral relativism and whether it holds up as a philosophical system. (Because I’m writing this update, I get to say: It doesn’t, moral relativism sucks.)
It wasn’t just Ady’s class that was hard. Etgar has certainly lived up to its name of ‘challenge’, but so far it’s been very much a rewarding one. I look forward to making more memories with these lovely people.
Weekly update by Tom Smith
So this week we started Machon opening seminar. We have learnt about building community and harnessing leadership within the framework.
Then on Sunday I arrived back from the magic moments seminar in Peqi'in with merchandise from the north which everyone was excited to get. I made the beloved 78 to the top of Ben Yehuda and walked to the Etgar Flat and gave over the merchandise and then watched the mighty Grease. I then went back to Machon on the bus and accidentally got on the bus without the others, sorry guys.
I spent the rest of the week being introduce to what to expect from Machon and choosing our lessons for the next four months. Hopefully I've made a good decision.
Tonight (Wednesday night) we had a quick discussion with the Shabbat va'ad on how next week's Shabbat evening service will run with some differences between say us and Hineini (modern orthodox) and we're still all friends. Hope all is well all around the progressive world 😊
Tom from Machon
Update from the Machon Madrichot (leaders)
Hello, shavua tov to all,
The first week of Machon started off with a great tiyul in Nitzana. We had several outdoor activities such as bike riding, bonfire, outdoor cooking, outdoor training and group dynamic skills. We got back to Jerusalem and settled in, we did an introduction to our program and talked a bit abut expectations.
This upcoming week we will be having an educational orientation week.
BY Rabbi Noa Sattath , 20/2/2017
Imagine being told that a landlord might rent you an apartment that has been sitting empty for months, but only if someone “better” doesn’t eventually come along. You would probably feel insulted and demoralized, like a second-class citizen, especially if “better” was code for “white,” “male,” “non-disabled,” or something similar.
That is how it is for lesbians and gay men in Israel who want to create families through adoption. I’m not talking about second-parent adoptions, where one half of the couple is a child’s biological parent and the second half of the couple wants to be legally recognized as the child’s second parent. Thankfully, after some hard-fought battles, Israel now allows that. I’m talking about a gay couple that wants to adopt an infant in need of a loving and stable home, together. Under current Israeli law, the government can place a child for adoption with a same-sex couple only if no “appropriate heterosexual couple” can be found.
Back in 2005, the government created a special committee to investigate this form of discrimination and to make specific recommendations regarding adoptions by same-sex couples. By 2014, nothing had happened, and IRAC stepped in. Together with the Israeli Gay Fathers Association, we filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court to demand action. All the while, we have been pressuring the Ministry of Welfare to carry out its mandate.
When the ministry finally did investigate the issue, they published a report in November 2016. It was inconclusive and made no definitive recommendations one way or the other. The ministry worked for eleven years with nothing to show for it. Last Thursday, we appeared in court again and, not surprisingly, the government asked for another extension, claiming that various government ministers had not yet had an opportunity to digest the report and formulate a plan. The excuses were outrageous, and a blatant attempt to continue depriving same-sex couples of equal rights.
The court gave the government one last reprieve, until July, to propose a nondiscriminatory plan for adoptions. But the judges did not mince their words: if the government showed up in July without an acceptable solution, the court would take the matter into its own hands and issue an injunction barring future discrimination.
The Mishnah teaches (Avot 5:8) that justice delayed has the same consequences as justice denied. The Supreme Court has finally signaled that it agrees. With your support, we will keep up the pressure. Israel can’t claim to be an LGBT-friendly haven in the Middle East while clinging to blatantly discriminatory policies when it comes to adoption laws. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that families are created based on love and stability, not on fear and prejudice.
NFTY Leadership at Netzer Veida: Seven Days, 14 Countries, and an Important Lesson
By Kathryn Fleisher, NFTY President, and Jordan Iserson, NFTY Programming Vice President (PVP)
In January 2017 more than 30 young adults from Germany, France, England, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Panama, Australia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Israel and North America came together in Jerusalem for four days of discussions, workshops, and networking as part of the Netzer Veida (international conference). Designed to strengthen young adult Reform and Progressive Jewish leadership from all corners of the world, the Veida offers experiential and practical training that attendees can then bring back to their communities for further growth and engagement.,
This year, Kathryn Fleisher and Jordan Iserson, NFTY President and Programming Vice President (PVP) respectively, participated in the Veida as North American NFTY snif delegates. Since the Veida coincided with the first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, the group found themselves debating American politics and global issues as headlines interrupted discussions and workshops about Israel programming and Jewish identity. In their blog post for the NFTY website, Kathryn and Jordan reflect on their experiences and takeaways from the Veida, including eye-opening discussions with their peers – young Reform Jewish leaders – about how snifim around the world are protesting and standing up for justice locally and globally.
Click here to read the full post.
TaMaR Conference in Jerusalem
Dear TaMaR Members, Netzer Bogrim and progressive young adults from around the world! If you haven’t heard it yet, CONNECTIONS 2017 is coming soon and two days before it starts: TaMaR Olami worldwide conference for young adults is taking place in Jerusalem!
What Is CONNECTIONS?
CONNECTIONS 2017 is an international conference hosted by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). CONNECTIONS offers opportunities to learn, explore and engage in the diversity of our Progressive Jewish world. This year’s focus, Milestones & Innovation, honors 200 years of Progressive Jewish history while exploring innovation in Jewish life and its impact on the future of our Jewish peoplehood.
What Is TaMaR?
TaMaR (Tnuat Magshimim Reformit) is the World Union’s international movement of Progressive Jewish Young Adults. In order to strengthen the TaMaR communities around the world, the TaMaR International Conference is held annually in Jerusalem for delegates from each country. Coinciding with CONNECTIONS 2017, TaMaR conferance will weave networking and training sessions with WUPJ members and leaders alongside specialized activities, workshops and site visits.
What Is The Seminar About? This year we will focus on young adults responsibly for the Jewish world as leaders of today and our place in the adult movement and if it is really existing?
When? May 15 – 17, 2017 and then we join the adult conference: May 17-20, 2017
Where? Beit Shmuel, Jerusalem
Who Can Participate? Progressive young adults from all around the world.
How Much? $180 for everything besides the flight (need financial assistant? Contact us!)
How Do I register? Please contact Orit Shoshani, our Rosh Hinuch!
Feel free to contact us in any matter!
See you soon!!
Please forward this email to relevant people
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 click here.
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
As always, the local Netzer Branch is always there for you as well