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

We hope you are well!

Working with 18 y/o youngsters is truly amazing. This is such an interesting age to work with and help shape. Sometimes, they amaze you- when you have a very meaningful discussion; when you learn something new from them; when you have an argument with them.

Sometimes, they drive you completely crazy- doing stupid, acting like little kids, trying things that they know they will never try again, just for the sake of it. Those days…. So tiring….

Sometimes, you just feel proud, as if you are their parent. Proud that they made a certain decision, chose a certain path, really got something or did really well. And here is one of the stories of me being proud and happy- A few months ago, Tom came to me and said he is considering having his Bar Mitzvah during Shnat. We started talking about this and thinking if and how this will happen. A few months later came Mili, who said she wants to have her Bat Mitzvah during Shnat. So it came to be that last Shabbat was the Bar and Bat Mitzvah of them both.

It was so interesting to be here throughout this whole process- seeing them making decisions and actively deciding to take upon themselves the Torah (literally) and Judaism. Seeing them receiving the Torah, and reading from the Torah was quite amazing. And much more- to see their Kehila (community) embracing them in such a way was just – perfect.This could not have happened without the amazing guidance and support of the wonderful Rabbi Michael Klein Katz- תודה רבה!

And that relates, of course, to the two National Holidays we had this week- Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzma'ut. These days are about the narratives we choose to preserve. It is a statement- having the happiest day in such nondurable proximity to one of the saddest days of Israel. It is telling our story- our Israeli story and even more so- our Jewish story. And this is how I see Tom and Mili's Bar and Bat Mitzva- creating a narrative, telling their own stories and taking ownership. Here is a short video of the day itself-

If you read the shnattim update below, you can hear more about it, and also see the cutest video the shnattim made!

Parents and families of Mili and Tom- you were missed. We thank you for sending them here and allowing us the privilege of being with them on this special event.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!

Weekly update by Jessica Mindel and Adam Marx

Shalom everybody.

We’ve had a really incredible week with so many important days.

On Thursday morning we had a Ma’amad run by the lovely Adam KB and Jayme followed by a very intellectually stimulating session run by Michael Livni (one of the founders of modern Zionism and an educator on Kibbutz Lotan) all about G-d, Zionism and Tikkun Olam. Everyone found the session TOV!!

After lunch we then got on a bus to Tel Aviv to attend the May Day March. The march was to support workers rights in Israel and was organised by all the socialist youth movements currently in Israel, so we as Etgar Nof made a group decision to attend altogether as a Kvutsa. We did stick out like sore thumbs however as we were the only movement not in the socialist chultzah colours of blue and red. The march was incredible, we walked through the streets of Tel-Aviv chanting and dancing and just generally having a great time. As a Kvutsa, we’ve talked about being more socially active and being more activist than slacktivists and this was definitely one of the first steps in the right direction.

Back in Jerusalem for the weekend, Friday was very relaxed (as a weekend should be). Saturday however came with momentous excitement as Mili Haber and Tom Smith had their joint Bat and Bar Mitzvahs on the Beit Shmuel roof! The service was wonderful and it was such a special moment for them and for us as Shnat Nof as we were able to share such a truly momentous Jewish occasion with two incredible members of our group. Both of them read and sang their portions amazingly and we couldn’t be prouder, MAZEL TOV!!! After the service, we had a celebratory lunch in the dome on the roof of Beit Shmuel, looking over the old city walls with CATERED FOOD (AHHHHH), Israeli dancing and some hilarious speeches.

On Friday, I was running around like a headless chicken trying to film everyone to be in a video to congratulate Mili as it’s not a true Bat-Mitzvah celebration until we have embarrassed the Bat-Mitzvah gal! Etgar are all incredibly proud of our Miloosh and whole-heartedly appreciative that we were able to be a part of her special day!

After the Bat-Mitzvah celebrations, we had the momentous task of moving rooms! We had previously decided that in order to form closer bonds with different people and to further bond our kvutsa as a whole, that we would move rooms and share with new people, it’s all very exciting! So that ends the first half of this week, now over to Adam to tell you about the second half. -Jess Mindel

On Sunday we had classes Hebrew, Zionist dilemmas and chinuch and hadracha.

Monday Yom Hazikaron. Hearing the siren at Mamila the street very quiet after the siren went off. It was also amazing to see the whole city stop for the siren because on Australia's Remembrance Day (ANZAC Day) there is a street parade and dawn service but less than a 1/4 goes to this or anything for ANZAC day.

Then we took a trip to a voulenteers memorial park and heard Ady and Danit's eye opening stories about things that happened to friends and family during wars and did a ma'amad.

Yom Haatzmaut started that night and it was amazing to see the change in mood from earlier in the day- it was like a switch had been flicked. There was so many street parties and the fire works that night were really beautiful. Tuesday the festivities continued with everyone at parks having picnics and the fighter jets phenomenal air display.

On Wednesday we had Hebrew in the morning followed by Beit Midrash in which we discussed what it means to us to be Jewish. We then had a siyur with Shira where we went to the Israel Museum and looked at the beautiful artwork there. -Adam Marx

Weekly update by Abraham Rose

abe@3am:~# su apt-get Machon-L’Madrichei-Chutz-LaAretz ~# Establishing emotional connection... ~# Connection established. ~# The following is said to have occurred... Thu@Gush:~$ Israel La'Omek Field Trip. Leader, Mr Jamie. Green line crossed. Drove past Bethlehem Palestinian city. Remained within 'Area C' partitions. Gush Etzion (settlement, hills of Judea), beautiful. View from summit: Theoretical: Mediterranean, Dead Sea, Jerusalem. Practical: Mediterranean and Dead Sea visibility; none; haze. Jerusalem visibility; within jet-propelled projectile range; Bethlehem; ditto. Jamie information download interruption: Passionate 'Settler'. Evaluation: Settlements, non-mythical. Arab and Jewish geography; elaborately intertwined. Roadside mikvah from time of Jesus of Bethlehem present between settlements. "#1/#2"-state solutions discussed; error. Fri@Jeff:~$ Dan, Chava, Ilana, Avraham attend 'Jeff Sidel' Shabbat dinner. 'Jeff Sidel' legacy upheld. Sun@Masa:~$ Zionism class with the Hon 'Steve Israel' explores Israeli songs emerging from war history, incl, HaNasich HaKatan and Lo Stam. Machon attends massive Masa Event ceremony, Erev Yom HaZikaron tekkes. Live music concert atmosphere? Merchandise wrist bands given out? English language pop songs performed?? Truly emotive video insights into personal stories of personnel fallen. Song included; yearnful HaNasich HaKatan. Mon@Herzl:~$ Myriad Israelis at Mount Herzl for siren. Siren echoes through the fabric of the air, bark, Jerusalem stone, surviving soldiers. Kiriat Moriah, conversation with Israeli madrichot; Roni, Netta. Glimpse of understanding into the psyche of brothers and sisters living in artzenu, paying annual insurance policy of hundreds of worn-out boys in wooden boxes. Waiting for the evening, English Machon corridor echoes; Lo Stam. The evening carries in cries of 69 years of joy. Both Machane and Ben Yehuda declare Independence again as for the first time, with a pride that lasts through all night, a pride that leaps through all night. Tue@69ya:~$ IWO's Burger for lunch. Free 'Jeff Sidel' BBQ and Booze for more lunch. Free entry to the Israel Museum. Free edible slop at Machon. Another day in Gan Eden. The land of the Free. Wed@Ntzr:~ ~# Disconnected; 'Moria-Guest'. ~# Failed to load profundity. ~# Connection lost. abe@3am:~# |


Update from the Machon staff

Shalom everyone,

The second half of the Machzor is in full swing! Here are some of the recent highlights:

Whilst the participants may sometimes think that they are the only ones living at Kiryat Moria, several other groups use the campus as well. Of which are a group of soldiers on the Nativ program, a voluntary Jewish conversion track for soldiers during their army service. The Machon and Nativ worked together to create a meaningful mifgash, sharing experiences of being in Israel, what it’s like making Aliyah and joining the army, whilst also participating in a text study discussing freedom, Pesach and life choices. It was a big hit with the Machonikim and an important part of continuing to live on Kiryat Moria as they now can put names to some of the faces that they share the dining hall with.

Once the Pesach chofesh was finished, the Machon resumed with a special Limmud conference for the first three days. This involved a wide variety of activities, guest presenters, peer-led sessions, and lots of vibrant discussion. The limmud conference is a vital component in the Machon calendar and a part of the DNA of their experience with us – a chance to take the stage, practice their skills as educators and madrichim, engage each other about topics they are passionate about and to enrich others, as well as being enriched themselves.

During this week the Machon initiated and hosted a new “Yom Tnua” (Movement Day) where the movements and movement staff presented the “head, heart and guts” of each movement. This involved each movement ‘hosting’ the rest of the group by sharing something sacred to them. The day also included a beautiful movement exhibition, a vibrant panel where the movement workers got an opportunity to answer questions about Israel and ideology and some fantastic sessions built and led by the machonkim for one another. Yom Tnua was a highly empowering experience for staff and participants, exploring the challenges and opportunities of pluralism, and strengthened the group as a diverse community.

Since then the group spent an emotional Yom Hashoah together, which was the first time in Israel for most of the participants. The evening before the group spent time at Yad Vashem, attending the official state ceremony (with translation) where they heard survivor testimonies, and speeches by the President and Prime Minister - a unique experience that all participants were thankful to have attended. The next day the participants put together their own meaningful ceremony and stood together for the siren that rings throughout the country. This was followed by several in depth discussions about Holocaust remembrance and a movie screening.

As this week draws to a close, the group have finished an intense 8 day period, culminating in the real intensity that goes with the sorrow of Yom HaZikaron, standing together with thousands of Israelis in mourning at Har Herzel, to the euphoria of Yom Ha’Atzmaut with the all-night celebrations and mid-week barbeques. These are the immersive moments that really push them as individuals to new levels of connection and understanding, as they participate in the highs and lows of a year in Israel.

The group has another two trips, a group shabbat, several chaggim and lots more learning left to look forward to over the coming weeks until the close of the Machon in mid-June.

We look forward to next week!

Shabbat shalom,

The Machon Team

Lighting the Way to a Strong and Inspiring Israel

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, 28/4/17

In early 1948, Israel’s founders gathered to decide on a national anthem for the new State. Psalm 126, which begins: “When God brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like dreamers,” was suggested as one option, as it describes the return of the Jewish people to their land, emphasizing the young State’s connection to the Bible, ancient Jewish history, and Jewish tradition.

Interpreters suggested that the verse views the return to the Land of Israel as a sudden miracle, like a person waking up from a bad dream to a better reality. Some noticed that the Hebrew root for the word “dream” is also the root of the word “heal” (lachlom-lehachlim). According to these interpreters, the psalm teaches us that the return to the Land of Israel will begin a process of healing and strengthening, following many years of disconnect from the land.

Both interpretations are relevant to the great challenges and opportunities Israeli society faces today.

We just commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. The fact that the Jewish people established a State only three years after the end of World War II is surely a miracle. At the same time, almost 70 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, we see that building an independent, thriving nation that fulfills the values of the Jewish Prophets as described in Israel’s declaration of independence is an ongoing and complex process, like the gradual healing of a person slowly emerging from weakness.

Sixty-nine years after Israel’s independence, we see that the establishment of the State was not the end of the Jewish People’s journey toward the “Promised Land,” but rather the beginning of a new stage in the journey, which provides us with three insights.

1. Our journey is a long one, and patience is a virtue.

2. Like any healing process, there are moments of success and progress, but also hardships and challenges. We cannot ignore the latter moments, but we also must not let them lead us into despair. Optimism and perseverance are crucial.

3. Like any long healing process, the support of those around us is necessary for success, no less than individual willpower.

Israel’s founders were tasked with building a country with governing institutions, as well as protecting its borders, developing an economy, and absorbing millions of immigrants. Our generation must continue these tasks, while at the same time taking on new and relevant responsibilities to ensure Israel’s future.

During the country’s early years, Reform Judaism had little presence in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), despite the roles of Reform leaders in establishing the State. During those difficult years, the focus was on physical existence and survival. Today, a growing number of Israelis understand that we must also secure Israel’s character and its core values as a Jewish and democratic state. This realization has led thousands of Israelis to seek spiritual homes in Reform communities and work with us to establish new ones across the country. In past generations, the vision of a vibrant Reform congregation in every Israeli town seemed to be a dream; today we are turning this dream into a reality.

For many years, we believed that only profound changes in the relationship between religion and state and the end of discriminatory government attitudes toward non-Orthodox Jews would lead to the flourishing of Reform Judaism in Israel. Today we know that the opposite is true: A flourishing Reform Judaism will lead to freedom of religious practice in Israel, to a strengthening of Israel’s democratic character, and to a reality in which all streams of Judaism are treated with full equality and respect. Reform Judaism has a window of opportunity among Israelis who for the first time see how progressive forms of Judaism can shape the future of the State of Israel.

For many years, Jews around the world planted trees in Israel to “make the desert bloom.” Now we have an historic opportunity to plant new Reform schools, youth groups, tikkun olam (repair the world) projects, and communities, all of which will further the Zionist task of building the State of Israel – and growing together with it.

A few years after the State was established, Ben Gurion said that if lights across the country were turned off and only those in kibbutzim were left on, the State would be outlined in light: the kibbutzim were close to the borders, defining and defending them. Similarly, the lights of Reform congregations across the country represent the spiritual borders of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, respecting all its citizens and Jewish communities around the world. As Reform Jews in Israel and in North America, we can strengthen and solidify these borders together. This is the Zionist task of our time: to ensure that Israel is a source of pride and inspiration for us, our children, and generations to come.

Join us in our movement-wide effort to support the Reform Movement in Israel through a generous donation.


Israeli and Palestinian bereaved come together again in a “holy response to human suffering”


On 22 January 1995, two suicide attacks took place at a bus stop near the Beit Lid military base in central Israel. Roni Hirshenson, whose son Amir, was serving at Beit Lid, heard about the attacks on the radio. Knowing Amir was on guard duty at the base, Roni assumed he would not have been at the junction when the carnage happened. “My son is safe,” Roni told himself, feeling awful for the families whose loved-ones were unaccounted for.

But later that day, Roni received a call from his younger son, Elad.

“He said, ‘Dad come home, some army people came,’” Roni recalls. “At that moment, I became bereaved.”

On hearing the first explosion Amir had gone to help the injured – and was killed in the second attack.

When, later, Amir’s photo turned up on a poster that aimed to delegitimise the Rabin government and stop the Oslo peace process, Roni was furious. He felt that his son had died not simply because of the Palestinian bomber, but because there is no peace, “because I, my friends, my predecessors, weren’t successful at ending this conflict.”

Roni’s sorrowful introspection led him to co-found The Parents Circle-Families Forum. The PCFF is a grassroots organisation of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis that promotes reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge.

One of PCFF’s most significant initiatives is staging an alternative ceremony to mark Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims. The 12th such ceremony, held jointly with Combatants for Peace, takes place this year on Sunday April 30, the eve of Yom Hazikaron. Israelis and Palestinians together mourn loved ones killed in the conflict, acknowledge the pain and the aspirations of those living on the ‘other side’, and commit to working for peace to prevent future violence and casualties.

Since the initial event in 2006, the number of participants has increased each year, as more people embrace its message of hope over despair.

One of the scheduled speakers at this year’s ceremony is Marianne Saade whose 12-year-old sister was accidentally shot dead by Israeli troops while the family was travelling in their car. Marianne, 15 at the time, was also injured in the incident and admitted to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital. She and her parents were touched by the care and dedication of the medical staff— so touched that today Marianne works at the hospital as a youth psychologist.

In a tragic postscript, five years after Amir Hirshenson’s death, the best friend of Roni’s younger son, Elad, became the first soldier to be killed during the Second Intifada. Three weeks later, Elad took his own life.

“He left a note saying he couldn’t bear the pain of losing both his brother and his friend who was like a brother,” Roni says. “So, directly and indirectly, I have paid the price of there being no peace.

The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony is not an alternative Memorial Day, it is Memorial Day for me.

When Leonard Cohen toured Israel in September 2009, he donated the profits from his concert to PCFF. Cohen said of the organisation: “This is not about forgiving and forgetting, this is not about laying down one’s arms. This is not even about peace although God willing it could be a beginning. This is about a response to human grief, a radical, unique and holy, holy response to human suffering. In the name of God, I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise.

See here for video of the Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony 2016 [5:37].This year the ceremony will take place at 9pm on Sunday, 30 April, in Tel Aviv and be broadcast live in Beith Jala and other places across the world. See here for Live Broadcast of The Memorial Ceremony (commencing at 4am Canberra time on Monday morning) and to donate.

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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