Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
Routine can be a bliss and can give comfort, but at times it also distracts you from important things and excitement. Luckily, on Shnat there is very little routine- if it isn't a seminar or a trip, it is a Holiday that gives us the opportunity to experience the Jewish tradition in Israel. It is a closed Shabbat for our Machonikim, allowing them to do something different and try out different styles of Shabbat (read more about this below). There is no dull moment on Shnat.
This week I was lucky enough to be able to take a day out of the office, and join Etgar, as they went on a surprise overnight in the desert. On Wednesday night, they were taken to a Bedouin hospitality place for the night. Danit ran a session for them, and they also had a night tour and star gazing thing with Shira, our beloved tour guide. In the morning, I joined them at Massada. Due to the heat, they took the cable cart, which is lovely, as there is a chance half our group would have stayed at the foot of the mountain…. :P
After a tour on Massada, we drove to the Dead Sea and had a lovely time, despite the very hot weather. And to think that I'm being paid to go to Massada and the Dead Sea…. :) And yet, I cannot deny that these experiences outside the office, with the group, are the more important ones. The time when you (Ady) are trying to save the phone a shnatti dropped in Massada… or treating the shnattim with some vegan cookies after two hours baking in the sun. It is the little conversations, and feeling that all the things we do here are for this unique experience at the end of the day- in order to create the best moments and memories for these youngsters, who will lead our communities.
May we enjoy the routine, know when we need to get out of it for a bit and allow ourselves to do so, and may we be embracing for new experiences.
Wishing you all a peaceful Shabbat
Weekly update by the Etgar community
Words of wisdom from Ady Blum, Etgar Director
"Those who sowed with tears shall reap with joy" (psalms). So we have talked about Shavout, the holiday of the first harvest, and the holiday when the Israelite transformed from slaves to a people through reiciving the morals of the Torah (the ten commandments). And I'm sitting here at my friend's house, looking at Hahula valley (just above the Kineret), where I lived and did my Shnat sherut 12 years ago.
My shnat, the year that have changed my life, when I have made a conscious decision that my Aliyah will menifest itself in educational and political commitment to Israel and the Jewish people. Looking back, it wasn't always easy, but so far I have kept my commitment.
After our seminar, I feel once again that I reap with joy. I feel that you are now starting to reap with joy what you have been sowing in the last 4 months (and beforehand as well). I saw you making the effort, struggling throughout Etgar, getting out of youe comfort zone, and this week showed us all that it was worthwhile.
It is only a glimpse to your never ending journey. Yet, it was a promising glimpse. And it made me very proud. This Shavuot you celebrate your first fruits from Shnat. Embrace the fruits and enjoy them. Celebrate them and imagin how many more fruits your ideological and moral efforts can grow.
שבת שלום וחג שמח אתגר🌅
Weekly update by Morgan Baynash
This week has been quieter than most but the inevitable end of Machon is starting to become a reality. This weekend we had our second and final closed Shabbat where all machonicks stay on campus and experience a communal weekend. We were offered three services on Friday night, a cultural service run at Kiryat Moriah, an Orthodox service at a nearby synagogue and a Reform service at Kol HaNeshema. It was really amazing to see people from different movements and Jewish denomiations attending services that they wouldn’t normally attend to experience how their friends connect with Judaism. After services, we all returned to Machon for dinner together.
After dinner, the Shabbat Va'ad (committee) organised a giant interactive game of Cluedo following which, we were told to return to our room where a ‘surprise’ was waiting for us. Each of us returned to find a personal letter from our parents or siblings or friends waiting. The corridors were filled with a mix of laughter and tears as people sat and read them. It left the night on a lovely note.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to breakfast in bed curtesy of the Shabbat Va'ad. We walked over the park across the street and people ran peer lead sessions for each other ranging from topics of ‘How my youth movement saved my life’ and ‘Aliyah’ to ‘Risk vs Reward’ and ‘Why boxes are important’. This was followed by lunch and then a mix of rest time and games. We all attended Seuda Slishit and a great Havdalah to end the night.
Sunday and Monday followed with normal classes some of which would be our last such as Leadership Development and Jewish Studies. It’s a very weird experience to say goodbye to teachers and classes that have made such an impact on the way you understand and see the world.
We got Tuesday and Wednesday off for Shavuot. Everyone went off to do different things. Some people went to Kibbutz to visit friends, some went to family and some stayed at Kiryat Moriah. I, along with ten other people decided to go to Tel Aviv and spent Tuesday sun baking, swimming and relaxing down by the beach. That night we went to our madricha’s house for Shavuot and spoke about many things including the differences between Shavuot and Pesach. We also ate lots of cheese cake.
It’s crazy to think that we have already been in Israel for four months. Even with Machon ending in two weeks and our northerners leaving, I am already so excited for what the rest of the year is going to bring.
Update by the Machon staff
With the end in sight, the Machonikim are enjoying their last few weeks together. And there has been a lot to enjoy!
As part of special “speaker series” several Machon bogrim have met with the group recently to talk about what lasting impact the Machon has had on their lives. Gil Troy, American historian and author of "Why I’m a Zionist", captivated the group with his passion and knowledge. In a time where young Jews are finding it increasingly difficult to publicly identify as Zionists, Gil offered his inspired and compelling story of personal sacrifice and leadership. Similarly, Danny Hakim demonstrated how his experience on Machon and as a madrich in Beitar Australia created the educational foundations of his coexistence not-for-profit “Budo for Peace”. Danny uses Karate to bridge gaps between Israelis, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in over 30 locations in Israel, and his newest project, Kids Kicking Cancer uses "power, peace and purpose" to empower children to enjoy their lives and make their treatments more bearable. Both speakers gave the group a real sense of how their experience of the Machon can be extended into a much longer and inspirational life journey.
Earlier this month the group spent three days accompanied by Ben Gurion's vision for the Negev during their Tiyul down south. Making the desert flourish was on the agenda and the group saw several ways in which this is happening today. From talking with a Bedouin community about how they modernise their traditions, to walking through fruitful greenhouses at Shvil Ha’Salat, the group spent a lot of time considering that nothing might be beyond possibility in the Negev.
In the Negev, Machzor 129
Yom Yisrael the following week took place in Lod, learning about the challenges of minorities and integration in Israeli society. The machonikim took part in a very special mifgash with students from a local Arab school. The school welcomed us in and offered a space for the machonikim and the students to interact - it was a hugely impactful experience, where the dialogue generated helped them to understand each other – and themselves – a little better.
Co-existence encounters in El Ulah School, Lod
Last week, Yom Yerushalayim brought a host of festivities and questions to Jerusalem. Conversations went late into the night about the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people and the modern history of Israel. The day before, the group managed to work its way around the traffic caused by the visit of Donald Trump to learn about sites that were integral to the capturing of Jerusalem during the 6 day war. This was followed by a visit to the old city and the participants were able to truly soak up the atmosphere. The day offered a lot of in depth thought and discussion about Zionism, Judaism and their place in today's society – a day which showcased the amount the machonikim had learnt and how much some of them had grown in their understandings and opinions.
This week, the advanced level Hebrew class ran a special activity for the youth in the Talpiyot Community Center - entirely in Hebrew. The peula was all about the differences between Israeli, Australian and British cultures (a favourite subject of the Machonikim). As a summative project, the Machonikim were able to see just how much they have learnt during their time in Israel and on the Machon. Special thanks to our amazing madrichot and Hebrew teachers, Roni and Netta!
The upcoming 2.5 weeks will see their classes come to an end, a wrapping-up seminar and a mega 5 day tiyul to the north full of lots of swimming, hiking, fun and maybe a few tears.
Hag Shavuot semeach to all!
The Machon team
From IRAC's newsletter
By Anat Hoffman
Deborah lives in Zechariah, a town in the municipality ofBeit Shemesh, together with her husband and four children. Last summer,Deborah registered her two-year-old daughter, Miriam, at a public nurseryschool in one of the municipal community centers.
The following day, a pre-schoolemployee called Deborah to make sure she knew that the other enrolled familieswere all ultra-Orthodox. Deborah, who identifies as “traditional” but notultra-Orthodox, wasn’t fazed. “Count me in,” she said. “I am happyfor Miriam to be with other children who observe Judaism differently than Ido.” Miriam started preschool the following week.
That’s when things turned sour. The principal invited Deborah to a meeting and told her that Miriam’spresence was a “problem.” The ultra-Orthodox families in the school werenot interested in religious diversity. “I can’t force you to leave,” theprincipal said, “but it’s my strong recommendation that you find someplace moreappropriate for Miriam.”
Several days later Deborah was invited to another meeting. She was told: “If you want to stayhere, you’ll have to cover your hair and wear a long skirt everyday at pickupand drop-off.” The director ended with this threat: “I’mgoing to do everything I can to make your life miserable.”
Afraid for her daughter’ssafety, Deborah took Miriam to another school, but she didn’t drop the matter. She lodged a complaint with the Government. When they said there was nothing they could do, Deborah came to IRAC. Our legal team helped Deborah and her husband file a lawsuit against the community center, its director, and the pre-school principal. The lawsuit alleged that Miriam’s rights wereviolated under Israel’s law against discrimination in public accommodations.
Two days before the deadline toanswer our complaint, the defendants called us and offered to pay $2,500 todrop the lawsuit and keep it confidential. Deborah wouldn’t agree to keep the ordeal confidential. She was willing to give up a monetary settlement inorder to forego a muzzle. Deborah told us that other people needed to know how to defend themselves against this kind of religious and personal harassment.
We told the defendants that the case would proceed if they continued to insist on a confidentiality agreement. They must have realized we were not bluffing, because the very next day, they agreed to let it go. The court approved the settlement last week, and Deborah got the legal and moral victory that she deserved.
These stories, large and small,happen everyday in Israel. Most of the time people simply turn down their headsand walk away. The brave few stand up and say this isn’t the kind ofsociety we want to build for our children, and IRAC is fortunate to represent them. In order to keep supportingthem we need your support. Click here to help IRAC continuerepresenting people who are standing up to these bullies.
From the IMPJ Newsletter
Last week, over 450 delegates from around the world gathered in Jerusalem for the World Union for Progressive Judaism Connections 2017 convention. This conference was an international celebration and a truly joyous event. The IMPJ was proud to join this festivity, as we studied together in sessions led by rabbis and colleagues from Israel and around the world, welcomed Shabbat together at the "Tachana" (First Train Station) in Jerusalem, held Shabbat morning services led by HUC Israeli rabbinical students, sang, danced and mingled.
We are so grateful to our partners in Israel and world-over for making this such a successful gathering.
We are already hard at work planning for the IMPJ Biennial, to be held in early June 2018. Please let us know if you can join us!
This celebration of a united Jewish people continues tonight, as we begin the holiday of Shavuot. During this holiday, we celebrate Am Yisrael taking an active collective role in religious life, promising G-d: “All the people answered as one, saying, ‘all that the Eternal has spoken we will do!’” (Exodus 19:8). So too, Israeli Reform congregations will celebrate Shavuot with Tikkunim (nights of learning) across the country, studying into the night, as well as festive dairy dinners, Megillat Ruth readings, childrens' activities and more.
Shavuot is also, and perhaps first and foremost, known as the holiday of the harvest. Following the winter months, it is now time to reap what we have sown, as we read in the Book of Exodus: "...and the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labors, which thou sowest in the field..." (23; 16). Just as we reap what we have sowed in the field, so do we work to reap the fruits of our hard labor year-round in continuing to bring pluralsitic and liberal Judaism to a growing number of Israelis and Jews worldwide. The recent Connections conference, and this Shavuot holiday, are great reminders of this hard, but also very rewarding, work.
On behalf of the entire IMPJ, I wish you and your family a Chag Sameach!
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
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.
A gift for the Shnat Netzer staff!
This week, our shnattim took over for Yom Tnua (Monday afternoons, when both Etgar and Machon come together), and dedicated the evening to the staff! There were games, trivia questions, and even a moving presentation!!
Thank you so much Noffies for this! We are truly moved!!!
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