Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
This weekly update is dedicated to a very special person- Maoz Haviv. Maoz is a lovely man, a brilliant educator, a talented writer, a true chalutz (pioneer) and Zionist, and he also happens to be the head of Netzer Olami and TaMaR. Maoz started his role in Netzer Olami 21 year ago- Netzer had 3 snifim (branches)- in Australia, SA and the UK; I was in grade 11; our current shnattim weren't even born.
Maoz is retiring this month, and has accomplished so much during his time in our Movement. Together with many dedicated people, Maoz brought Netzer to 11 more countries; helped establish the first Netzer activities in the FSU; made the moves to bring Netzer and NFTY together; created TaMaR- Tnu'at Magshimim Reformit- the adult sister of Netzer for ages 18-35 and more.
It has been my honor to work with such a Mentsch, and could not thank him enough for everything he did for Netzer, TaMaR, the staff and me personally. Maoz- you are a KIND man and also ONE OF A KIND. We thank you for everything you did, and will miss you greatly. My wish is that your legacy will be here for a long time.
BUT WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE SHNATTIM LIOR?!?
Well, one week is left until Etgar and Machon finish, and there is something in the air- the sense of an experience coming to an end. For the Northerners it is the beginning of the end, as in two weeks they will be back home. For the Southerners, it is the end of life as they know it- being the only shnattim around, without their sisters and brothers from England. For all it is a major change.
There are very mixed feelings, as every year at this point. Some shnattim are starting to be scared- scared of change, scared to go back home and not live with their closest friends. Some are ready to continue to their next adventure on Shnat, and some are simply ready to go back home. No doubt, life is easier when you don't need to share your room with other people, or cook for yourself…
Wishing the shnattim a lovely and meaningful last week in Jerusalem!
Wishing you all a peaceful Shabbat
Weekly update by Jayme Garland and Mathilda Wise
This week has been our last week of programming on Etgar! So much has happened and we would love to tell you everything, but instead we'll share our top 5 things from this packed, intense, but incredibly special week!
We went to the Knesset on Wednesday and had a tour. We saw many things, including a replica of the Declaration of Independence. It was interesting and exciting to think how new and important everything was!
We also had a special Eco-Eco class on Monday - we went on a trip! Ofer took us to a forest farm in the middle of Jerusalem and we had the opportunity to analyse the interaction and relationships between the economy and the environment, whilst enjoying beautiful strawberries picked fresh off a bush and accumulating small cuttings of mint and sage for tea! We spoke about the potential ways to create an ethical and sustainable food system and then spent some time working in the field (and of course sampling the goods).
Another thing that happened was our last yom tnua (movement day) with machon! We spoke about hagshamah, the future of the movement and heard about options for future engagement in Israel - the Lech-Lecha programme, and אחוות עמים (solidarity of nations) which Nina Morris-Evans (a good friend and fellow Nof pioneer of Netzer) spoke to us about. She's currently on this programme as the youngest participant ever and has spent the past 5 months doing amazing social action within Israel, we are very proud of her!
We (rashei shavua) ran a program on Sunday morning based around Jewish text and philosophies, looking at the way we've experienced the last four months, not only on a personal level, but as a kvutza. We spoke about I-Thou relationships (a concept devised by Martin Buber) and how we think this has affected our interactions and future dynamic. A heavy topic for any time, but especially first thing on a Sunday!
A final highlight was Wednesday night karaoke kef! It was a lot of fun and belting Disney songs for hours will be a fond memory from this past week!
We also had many "last" sessions, which was bittersweet. We've learnt so much in the past 4 months and it's been sad to say goodbye to our educators. They are amazing and everyone has put an incredible amount of effort into ensuring that etgar has been everything we could have hoped for and more.
Weekly update by Eve Phillips
The start of the long process of 'sikkuming' has officially began on machon.
Sunday was very emotional for some of us as this was our last class with the legend; Steve Israel. Our final 2 hours with our Zionist hero involved discussing how our opinions on Zionism and Israeli society have changed in the last 4 months. Many of us found that whilst we have gained a great deal of knowledge, we are still not even close to solving the Arab Israeli conflict but are in fact far more confused then when we started which left Steve feeling very satisfied. The class ended by reading extracts written by Amos Oz and Ari Shavit where both writers explained their unconditional love for Israel despite all of its complicated problems, a view which many of us relate to.
For a few of us on Machon, Monday began far earlier than it should have as we decided to wake up at the illegal hour of 6 to stand in a queue full of tourists for an hour to in order to reach Temple Mount. However the early wake up and the interaction with the tourists was all worth it because visiting the temple was an amazing experience and more importantly Dan proudly managed to secure an impressive 130 likes on his instagram photo captioned 'dome sweet dome'. The atmosphere on Temple Mount was interesting to witness as it felt very tense. The men who were in control were exceptionally strict and told us off about 3 times for jumping for a picture, not having a long enough jumper and having elbows on display. Similarly, the police were also not too impressed by the 12 religious Jewish men who were controversially singing and dancing by the entrance.
On Monday afternoon we had our final Yom Tnua. We began with discussing where we see netzer in 20 years and what we want it to look like. Whilst the discussion got slightly heated, there was lots of consensus in the group. A lot of the discussion was centred around the groups desire for Netzer to have an established and successful Aliyah programme. Following on from this discussion we were given a talk by 2 members of Achvat Hamid which is a 5 month post graduate program that directly engages with the reality of the israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the value of self determination for all people. The talk was very inspiring as it gave us many ideas about how we can live out our ideology and achieve our vision of creating a successful chalutznik Aliyah programme.
Our final Yom Yisrael involved a visit to south Telaviv. We were given the opportunity to speak to an asylum seeker from Eritrea who spoke to us about his story and his experience of living in south Telaviv. Following on from this, we went to visit a group of Shin Shinim from the only organisation in Israel dedicated to serving all LGBT youth. We learnt about how they aim to empower the LGBT youth within the formal and informal education systems and create a meaningful social youth leadership. The day gave us insight into minority groups living in telaviv and the social periphery which exists in Israel's most wealthy city.
The last 2 days of the week have been dominated by lots of feedback sessions and reflecting on what we have achieved on Machon. To give us a break from being very cynical, Lior surprised us with an incredible ice cream visit where we sat in the sun, eating our huge ice creams attempting to explain to the very confused Lior what the term 'banter' meant.
This final week of programming on Machon has been filled with lots of interesting discussions about our last 4 months, a final goodbye to our Zionist hero; Steve and lots of thinking about the next stage in our movement. We are all very excited to go on tiyul next week and spend our last week together as Machsor 129!
By Mathilda Wise, Shnat Ntezer Nof
The Western Wall is a symbol for Judaism around the world. It is hailed as a spiritual place of pilgrimage, promise, exile and archeology. It has recently become a contested site and a place of hostility and animosity. The Wall has most recently become a place of injustice, segregation and inequality, but a group of women are trying to change that.
Genesis 17:7 says “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” This passage suggests to many Jews the power and strength of the Jews as the Chosen People of God. It is perhaps through this verse that we can understand the symbolism of the Wall for Jews: throughout time Jerusalem was completely destroyed more than twice but the Wall itself remained. This verse and the Wall represent the tenacity of the Jewish People. The Wall has become a symbol of Jewish continuity in the Holy Land.
Women of the Wall–an organisation striving for religious equality for women–holds services at the commencement of every month and other Jewish holidays at the Wall. Each attempt to pray in peace there presents a new struggle. Sometimes it is the need to smuggle a Torah scroll through security, sometimes it is squealing 13 year old girls, loudspeakers trying to drown out the cantor, or Orthodox men spitting and shoving us. I’ve attended four Women of the Wall services in the four months that I’ve been living in Jerusalem, and each has given me a new outlook on the way that this issue is approached by the wider Jewish community (accepting or not) but also by the women themselves. It’s hard to watch other women fight against you, when they should be the ones supporting and being allies. I’ve found it difficult to be a woman in this city. I was once walking down the street and a group of Orthodox men invited my male friends to try it on tefillin, but once they realised that I was already holding a tallit, the offer was revoked. The first Rosh Chodesh Women of the Wall service I attended was one of the most intense and formative experiences I’ve ever had, which I wrote about in another article (Why do you care how I pray?).
I attended Rosh Chodesh again this morning, and once again, found the experience moving, troubling and empowering. This morning, we were not herded into metal barriers nor prevented from bringing Tallitot or Torot into the area in front of Kotel, but this time we faced another issue. Young girls of about 13 or 14 and a couple of older women spent the entire hour and a half squealing at the top of their lungs and blowing whistles, preventing us from praying. When women in the service began taking photos of the young girls who were squealing, they covered their faces and began yelling. They left the area and returned with scarves which they kept over their heads in order to be able to continue disrupting our service without having identifying photos taken of them. They were then surrounded by security who remained there for the rest of the service. At the end of the service I went to take a photo of them, they yelled at me in Hebrew asking me what I thought I was doing, and calling me derogatory names. Again, I was ashamed of people in my own religion.
A week ago, I attended a conference run by the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem, which focused on leadership and innovation. During the conference I went on a bus tour of a town halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. While the struggles of the Orthodox and Secular are particularly evident at places like the Kotel, this town is a sad reminder of the injustices that religion can enact. The town, called Beit Shemesh, is almost purely governed by the Ultra-Orthodox community, with gender segregated sidewalks and signs above footpaths demanding that women dress ‘modestly’ or stay off the streets. There are women’s health clinics where even the word “woman” is graffitied with black spray paint and until recently most buses were gender segregated. Female doctors and lawyers have their names and photos erased and sometimes replaced in advertisements with men’s faces, even though a woman is only permitted to be treated by another woman. As there is no ‘Israeli’ law imposed on the town, the Rabbis control it. This often leads to anarchy, in the form of violence towards IDF soldiers, women, police and children. Our Modern Orthodox tour guide told a story of her daughter’s school being surrounded for days by (mainly) Haredi boys who threw rocks, spat on them and called them whores and sluts. Her daughter was 7 years old. Modern Orthodox parents teamed up to stand outside the school throughout the day to protect their children. At one point, the police were called, not to protect the young girls, but to protect the Haredim.
Our guide also told us a story of a terrible case of domestic abuse in an Orthodox home, to which the police were called and actually responded. The police tried to arrest the man, but were overthrown by Haredim who overturned the police car, threw rocks and spat at them. Being on this tour was a tough experience, I saw gender inequality at its most brazen. I felt as if everything I’ve been doing as a Progressive Jew, a feminist and a young person was completely outweighed by the injustices in this town. All my efforts to bring equality to my own religion feel impotent when I see how these people live. In a session at this conference called ‘Rebels by Choice’ Anat Hoffman and Lesley Sachs, of Women of the Wall, spoke of the real struggles of women in Israel today and their own conflicts with religious authorities and police as they work to attain religious equality and access to the Wall. Jewish practice has evolved since its beginnings. How can we evolve if we are constantly moving backwards in terms of gender equality and freedom of expression? Sometimes I feel like my activism is compromised as a woman. At other times I feel that being woman provides me with the motivation for change. Maybe the answer is a woman.
Tilda's piece made it to the Women of The Wall FB page!!
50 Years of a United Jerusalem
Simon Wiesenthal Center, 6/6/17
Today is the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem by the IDF, marking five decades that the faithful of all religions can pray in peace at their respective holy sites.
50 years ago, on June 4, 1967, Israel and the Jewish people were alone. No one stood up for her defense — not the United States, not Great Britain, not France — and against all odds, recaptured the heart and soul of the Jewish people.
Today, 50 years later, Israel is the most powerful nation in the Middle East, and many of her former enemies and neighbors are beginning to look at her as a potential partner and not a sworn enemy. Just days ago, four Arab nations — Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — severed all diplomatic relations with Iran’s lone ally in the gulf, Qatar, home to the headquarters of Hamas’ leadership.
On June 6, 1967, Moshe Dayan, defense minister, spoke these words at the Western Wall: “We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned never to be parted from it again.”
This Reform synagogue started by women is shaking up Jewish life in Spain
By Margarita Gokun Silver, June 6, 2017
MADRID (JTA) — At the conclusion of a recent Friday night service at the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid, the space quickly transforms from a meeting hall into a dining room. Several people assemble a long table. They adorn it with a white tablecloth, place chairs on both sides and set two challahs topped by a cover in the center.
Men and women lay out plates of knishes and bourekas, shakshuka and kugel, a Spanish tortilla and an almodrote, a Sephardi eggplant dish. When the table is set, everyone gathers around for the Kiddush prayer. A monthly communal Shabbat dinner begins.
While such a scene may be typical at Jewish communities across the U.S., in Spain it is something of a rarity. The existence and evolution of a progressive congregation, as Reform congregations are typically known outside the U.S., is a departure from the city’s traditionally Orthodox-dominated Jewish life. For the people gathered around the Sabbath table it’s a welcome development, one the Spanish capital needed for some time.
To continue reading click here
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.
Sweet moments from the last few weeks
A few more photos from CONNECTIONS
Uri Levin, our Melbourne Shaliach (Emissary) visiting the Etgarniks
Check out the new Netzer Nof Machon Merch (it is not the noodles....)!!
And look at this cute thing!! And also at the porcupine... :p
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