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

We hope you are well!

Pessach is over and spring is here, bringing back our shnattim from their much needed break. The shnattim had time to travel, relax, explore, spend time with family and created new memories. They returned on Tuesday, making this week a very short and sweet one :)

Right after Pessach, we are suddenly flooded with Israeli flags everywhere, which is our sign that the National Holidays are coming- starting with Yom Ha'sho'a- Holocaust and Heroism Memorial Day next week; Yom Ha'zikaron- Israel's remembrance day for the fallen soldiers and victims of terror; and Yom Ha'atzma'ut- Israel's independence day.

This is a very emotional and unique time to spend in Israel, and we plan on exposing the shnattim to many events taking place here, including going to Yad V'Shem on Yom Ha'sho'a; joining the local Jerusalem scouts for their Yom Ha'zikaron ceremony; host Zikaron Ba'salon (memory in the living room project), bringing a Holocaust survivor to speak with the group and much more. Though we can talk and teach a lot about these important days, nothing compares the feeling of being in Israel while the siren goes off on Yom Hazikaron, and everything completely stops. Promise to share more thoughts about this in the next few weeks.

For now we will wrap up with welcoming our shnattim back to Jerusalem and also welcoming Nathaniel into our group. Nathaniel- may you learn, be happy and have a smooth transition into the Netzer gang!

As last week we didn't send an update, here are some photos, just in case you miss us :)

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!

Weekly update by Sara Conway

We had Pesach chofesh and everyone did different things. Some people stayed in Israel and some people went over seas. I went to a kibbutz just outside of Beer-sheva where they designed the drip irrigation system that is used all over the world. It was really interesting and inspiring to see and meet different people and listen to different opinions. It was also really interesting to see what people's lives were like there and how they did stuff as a community.

Here is what we did over chofesh-

We have had two days of programming and they have been really enjoyable and interesting. We have all come back from chofesh refreshed and excited to see what is to come for the last part of Etgar. We have had lots of stimulating discussions over these past 2 days and everyone has been really engaged in them and interested by them.

We are really excited to see what the last part of Etgar holds for us.

Weekly update by Dan Apter

This week we all returned from chofesh back to the kiryat after a long break for Pesach. As I lay in my bed on Monday, our first night back, four questions kept on bouncing around my head stopping me from getting to sleep. As you would expect for this time of year, they all had one thing in common which was me questioning, “why this night was different from all other nights”. The answers were as follows:

  1. Tonight was the first time in a week where I was able to fall asleep without crippling stomach pains from overpriced vegan food.

  2. Tonight was the first time I am able to sleep without five hundred people dancing and singing directly outside of my tent.

  3. Tonight was the first time where I wasn’t forced into lying on a “water bed” from a flooded tent.

  4. Tonight was the first night where the ambient temperature in my room wasn’t hot enough to melt steel.

Now by this point you may be wondering why these aren’t the conventional answers. In the spirit of Progressive Judaism I chose to find meaning in my own exodus story.

Myself along with other Netzer-niks decided that we should continue shnat tradition by going to “Zorba”, a pseudo-hippie-spiritual-trance-rave-festival in the Desert Ashram in the Arava. Over the five day festival almost every part of the exodus/Seder story was recreated. This included salty herbs (canned peas soaked in my tears), a set of plagues (hail, flooding and insects), spending time lost in the desert (spiritually lost, not literally of course) and even leaning to the left (because we were forced to by the boulders underneath our roll mats). This all being said, Zorba was an incredible experience of meeting people from such varied backgrounds and places where amazing conversations about childhood, fears, love and more were had with total strangers. I wasn’t the only person there so it is only fair that I include some other people’s thoughts…

“It was a totally bizarre hippie experience!” – Abraham

“The vegan food was mamash tov.” – Asha

“Re-birthing was an hour of my life I will never get back.” – Becky

“This is the perfect example of type-two fun; you only enjoy it when its over!” – Dan

Over the time at the festival there were many weird and wacky workshops which we attended such as “a journey into your chakras”, re-birthing, how to heal with cuddles and Pink Floyd meditation. It was all too easy to start of reserved and cynical about the workshops but when we threw ourselves in we (mostly…) ended up having fun and finding something that we could take away from the session and our time following in the footsteps of Zorba the Buddha.

After what actually ended up being a very “restful” break we started the working week with the first of our Limmud days. On Tuesday morning we had our global studies class. In my class with Ilan we had a very interesting debate on the school systems, how they varied between countries and how we would change them. It led nicely on to the overarching theme of the week, which alludes to making our own educational framework. After class, we had a fascinating talk from Daniel, a representative of “Project Ten” which is a development project and charity run as part of the Jewish Agency. Lots of difficult questions were raised like “when is it our place to impose our own values on other people?” and “do we deal with a short term emergency if it impacts a long term goal?”. The day concluded with two sessions run my Michal or Ben about creative text study and learning from failure.

Wednesday started with us splitting into our own movements to prepare a session to run for the rest of the machzor. We prepared a quiz about Netzer focusing on the Australian snif and the two UK sniffim (RSY and LJY) and also explained how we approach prayer as part of a religiously denominational movement. The whole day was filled with varied activities run by all the movements and also a panel with a representative from each. Many difficult questions were raised and passion and emotion was high but things just about managed to stay civil.

Today we experienced lots of different and opposing ideologies but all embraced the opportunity and managed to step away from the sessions still as close as ever! This we have taken as a sign of great things to come and we are all the more excited to see what the rest of the programme has to offer!

P.S. This was also especially poignant as today marks the exact six-month anniversary of coming on Northern Shnat!

We Asked People Who Went On Shnat Netzer Over The Last 40 Years About How Shnat Netzer Continued To Impact Their Lives And Had An OVERWHELMING Response...

As a parent of two previous “shnatties” I could not recommend this experience enough. To take a year out after school, whether participants are going on to higher education or not is a fantastic grounding for the next stage of life. Living in a safe environment but still being responsible for food, diary, time management etc., is an amazing way to prepare.

However, the real benefit of the program to me is the diversity of the Israel experience, the chance to learn language, meet and study with Israelis, make a genuine contribution and develop progressive values. The program shows Israel as it really is – the good and the bad - and allows the participants to come to their own conclusions. Most develop a life-long but realistic love for Israel and an amazing knowledge.

The level of self-confidence which my sons had when they returned was noticeable to everyone who met them. They changed from being teenagers to young adults able to debate, discuss and persuade from positions of knowledge and experience. They made life-long friendships. And of course for parents it is also an opportunity to visit Israel see what they have been doing.

I will not go into detail on the programs themselves – best to leave it to the participants to do this but I was impressed with the diversity and options available - all done within a progressive ethos and enabling them to author their own Jewish lives for the future.

Jonanthan Lewis, father of Michael Lewis (Shnat 2014)




“As Jews, we can’t ignore what is happening here and celebrate our freedom at Passover when there are people who don’t have their own freedom in this country.”

Ahead of Passover, known as the time of freedom of the Jewish people, some 250 students from several pre-military academies journeyed down to the Holot detention facility in the Negev to hold a symbolic Passover Seder with asylum-seekers being held there. Students from the Academy in Jaffa – Telem in particular helped organize this year’s Seder together with the Rabbis for Human Rights, bringing several busloads of students from other pre-military academies, including the Bina academy in Ramat Gan, and the Be’er Ora academy 19 km. north of Eilat.

To continue reading...

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


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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