Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
In the past week, I had two great opportunities to spend some time with our shnattim-
On Friday afternoon, Adam M., Hannah, Liat, Louis and myself, joined the Bergman Educators Seminar, and travelled together to Givat Haviva. Aside from it being a very special Kibbutz, it is also the home of Machaneh Chavaya- The Israel Netzer summer camp. We went there for a few reasons- firstly, to get to know our Israeli branch a bit better and see what it is about; secondly- to meet our beloved Adam Black and Caroline who are currently leading on camp; lastly- to get a chance to meet the educators currently on a seminar in Israel with the WUPJ.
The visit was quite nice and to me at least, felt very much like home- seeing our shnattim organizing "Shuk Shabbat", a.k.a. "Chuggim" in Netzer Aus; hearing the Shabbat tunes; having a chance to feel the Ru'ach of Noar Telem- was quite special. A huge THANK YOU is due to Nadav Shachmon and Anat Manilevitz for hosting us, and to Rabbi Steve Bernstein for allowing us to join the seminar.
Another exciting event was us joining the LJY Netzer Israel Tour on Tuesday. Our shnattim- Adam M., Liat, Louis, Nathaniel and Tommy, led some 50 kids from LJY- Netzer, explaining to them about Netzer, Shnat, Netzer Australia, and leading them in prayer and some fun. It was very rewarding to see the shnattim running the whole afternoon basically on their own, and also lovely to see an ex-shnatti- Josh, leading the tour. I can tell you two things- holding 50 teenagers takes an incredible amount of energy, and our shnattim did it!!
Meanwhile, far far away, our beloved Jason, Mili, Morgan and Tilda are rocking the summer camps they are at- RSY- Netzer and Netzer- Germany. May you bring the light and Ru'ach (spirit) of Netzer Aus and SA into these Netzer camp!
Next week we will commemorate Tish'a B'Av- an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the First Temple by the Babylonians and the Second Temple by the Romans in Jerusalem. Tisha B'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and it is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. The Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) released this week a newsletter with different limmudim for Tisha B'Av, and one thing that caught my eyes was the following banner-
It reads: "Jerusalem was destroyed because of baseless hatred. It will be built because of baseless love". I will leave you this as food for thought.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!
Weekly update by Nathaniel Knoll
I report back to readers to say that this week has truly been a “week in the life” of the tikkun period. We have now really and truly settled in to our Tel Aviv volunteering period, and it has become a period of wake up, go to volunteering, have some lunch, do some more volunteering, come home and just crash. We now understand just how intense our volunteering ventures are.
That said, our volunteering does have some new variance. While everyone else is working at Elifelet to look after children from refugee communities, I have begun a project with the Israeli Gay Youth (IGY) organisation to lay the foundations of a network of connections between IGY and as much of the Australian Jewish community as possible, with a goal of increasing IGY's donation income so that it can operate to the best of its ability in order to help protect and meet the needs of at-risk LGBTQ+ youth in Israel.
Over the weekend, 4 of our small number went to spend a shabbat evening at the Noar Telem Chavayah camp, enjoying a short period of being reunited with Adam Keren Black and Caroline Freeman, who are leading on said camp. They spent the afternoon joining in various activities with the campers, and enjoyed comparing tunes during the kabbalat shabbat service, seeing which tunes they knew that the campers used.
After the weekend, we returned to our regular schedule. On Tuesday, we spent the afternoon and evening with the LJY Netzer Israel Tour kids, talking to them about Shnat and running a fun evening program for them after sharing dinner at their hostel.
We look forward to welcoming back Adam and Caroline from camp this Sunday.
Promoting a Shared Society in Israel: Jews and Arabs Working Together
By Yonatan Melamed, July 20, 2017
On the fifth of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5708 (May 14, 1948), the leaders of the newly established State of Israel signed a Declaration of Independence. In it, among other things, they stated:
We appeal… to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the up-building of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
Almost 70 years later, the State of Israel still struggles to balance its Jewish and democratic character – to remain committed to its Jewish values while at the same time remembering that those values obligate it to treat those who are not Jewish as equals.
While Israel’s Arab minority has continued to grow (it’s now more than 20% of the entirety of Israel’s population), the tension between Jews and Arabs in Israel has continued to rise. Acts of violence against Arabs continue to surface during times of increased tensions, and Arabs in Israel continue to struggle to receive an equal place in Israeli society in social, economic and political matters.
Guided by the vision of the Prophets of Israel, Israel’s Reform Jewish community, led by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), has committed itself to promoting a shared society in Israel, one based on mutual accountability and respect; understanding that both peoples, Arabs and Jews, have been destined to live here; and the belief that all of us were created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.
In an effort to advance this vision, five years ago the IMPJ established the Meeting Neighbors project, bringing together Jewish families from Reform congregations across the country and Arab families from nearby towns and cities for long-term, interpersonal meetings designed to break barriers and form meaningful relationships. The project began with a partnership between members of Kehillat YOZMA in the city of Modi’in, located half-way between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv and families from the Arab city of Jaljulia, located in central Israel. It has since grown to include 10 Jewish and Arab cities and towns all around Israel, including Megiddo, Beit HaShita, Zalafeh, Sachnin, Tivon, Mukebleh, and others.
At the same time, more and more Reform congregations have taken on independent projects to promote a shared society, such as a women’s group from Kehillat Birkat Shalom in Kibbutz Gezer with Arab women from Ramla and members of Kehillat Sha’ar HaNegev with residents from the Bedouin city of Rahat.
As tides of intolerance continue to grow, these projects serve as a ray of light for those participating in them from both sides, as well as their families, friends, and communities, who are inspired by the local change these individuals and families are insisting to create, despite the harsh reality around them. When an Arab cab driver finds himself telling a Jewish passenger what the Reform stream of Judaism really is, as was the case at the first Meeting Neighbors group, then truly, change has begun.
Torah teaches us v’ahavtem et ha’ger, “and you shall love thy stranger,” with no fewer than 36 mentions of the treatment of the non-Jew in the Bible. The State of Israel is still working on fulfilling the vision of its Prophets and of its founders. Remembering this commandment is the first step in our Journey to reach the Promised Land of co-existence, understanding, and a truly shared society.
About the author: Yonatan Melamed is the development and overseas relations associate at the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism
** This article first appeared on the URJ Reform Judaism blog.
From IRAC's Newsletter
By Rabbi Noa Sattath
The LGBT community in Israel has come a long way. In the past decades we have fought, we have organized, we have lived and loved, we have brought children into the world and raised them, and they are loved.
In the last decade homophobia has been reduced to the margins of Israeli society, but there it is entrenched. Homophobic discourse is still with us. We see it in inciting rabbis who try to use Torah and Halacha (Jewish law) to legitimize their homophobia.
We saw it in the government's response to IRAC's and the Association for Israeli Gay Father's Supreme Court petition for equality in adoption for same-sex and common law couples just last week. Until now common law couples and same-sex couples have been discriminated against when it comes to adopting a baby in Israel. The Ministry of Welfare does not add them to the waiting list for adopting a baby, but rather only considers them for adopting older children with difficult family or medical histories. Last week the government responded to our petition for equality in adoption saything that they will no longer discriminate against common law couples, but plan to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples claiming that they are "abnormal" and may "load extra baggage on the child." The state admitted that there is no evidence in any research about same-sex parents being worse parents.
In response to the government's blatant homophobia, we rallied together with the LGBT community to show that we do not accept this decision. I took part in a rally last Thursday in Tel Aviv, alongside 15,000 other people, to say that we are not second class and we will not rest until there is full equality for the LGBT community (you can watch my speech in Hebrew here). The government, in response, requested to postpone the Supreme Court hearing on this case until September so they can "reconsider" - change - their position.
The activist who presented me at the rally gave IRAC's work the most glowing commendation I could think of. He said: "We, the LGBT community, often experience Judaism as a source of oppression, but there is another Judaism, a Judaism of acceptance and love - that is the Reform movement." This captures our values and this week for me.
"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy" ~Psalm 126:5 - this struggle is bearing fruit - and we, with our beautiful families, with our children, and our future children for those who are still on the long journey to parenthood - will see the fruits of our struggle, we will see full equality for the LGBT community. And no less.
This issue hits a very personal note with many of us. We embraced family because it is central to our Jewish values, but it is also the core of who we are as human beings. The government of Israel uses disproven "facts" to discriminate against the LGBT community to hurt us as a society, but even worse, they punish children who need a stable and loving home.
Please support our work fighting for equality in adoption.
Rabbi Noa Sattath
‘It was a real high’
World Union for Progressive Judaism’s Rabbi Daniel Freelander talks about the group’s largest ever Jerusalem meeting
There is something resonant about Jerusalem — something deeply, inexplicably, indefinably emotionally resonant. Something about the history and the stone and the view and the hills and the harsh starkness of it all. And of course the light.
Maybe that’s why the World Union for Progressive Judaism — here at home, in the United States, its member synagogues are Reform, but they use other labels in other parts of the world — chooses to have every other of its biennial conferences there. The Reform movement is not particularly strong in Israel, but this year’s conference, held in May, drew the largest crowd it’s ever attracted. “There were 450 people from 30 countries,” its president, Rabbi Daniel Freelander of Ridgewood, said. (To be clear, the Reform movement has much larger meetings, particularly in North America; this one is specifically international.)
“It wasn’t mainly rabbis,” Rabbi Freelander continued. “There were maybe 90 rabbis, but there were a lot of congregational presidents and officers from all the regions around the world.”
Members of the World Union call themselves Reform, Liberal, or Progressive; each name is the result of the particular politics of the specific world in which each developed. “Each of the names has overtones in their countries,” Rabbi Freelander said. The groups developed in parallel but in different ways, so coming together every two years illuminates the different ways that history and the surrounding culture influence religious practice.
Out of the entire convention, four experiences stuck most with Rabbi Freelander. The first one was when a group went to Robinson’s Arch. The arch, a small space, is part of the Second Temple’s retaining wall, like the Kotel, the Western Wall. The Kotel, the iconic rough-hewn stone wall, is run as an open-air Orthodox synagogue; Robinson’s Arch, much smaller, tucked out of sight of the Kotel (although not always out of its rabbinate’s mind), is the place where egalitarian prayer is allowed.
To Continue reading the article click here.
By Joel Mc'Carroll
Joel, the Netzer Australia Federal Mazkir (Head), wrote about his experience at CONNECTIONS in May. To read the article, please read page 32 at Tell Magazine.
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 glimpe into LJY- Netzer Israel Tour
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
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As always, the local Netzer Branch is always there for you as well