Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
As our shnattim are all on their much needed break, I took the opportunity to take some time off myself- hense, the early email. Seems the shnattim are happy to be back in the lovely Jerusalem- if not for the amazing city itself and its spirituality, at least for the a/c flat, where most things work!
In a few days, all the shnattim who went to lead on Netzer overseas summer camps, aka Tilda, Jason, Mili and Morgan, will be back with us- we are super excited!! On Sunday morning, the group will be heading to Kibbutz Lotan- a magical place, that is even hotter than Tel-Aviv, but thank God- is less hummid! They will be absorbed there by their new charming Madricha- Deebie. They are headed for a few days of orientation before they are allocated a permanent job, which is most likely- working in the dates field. Just to clarify- it is NOT about going out on dates, though humor can really be helpful!
Sending you all relaxing thoughts from my vacation and wishing you all a great week!
Weekly update by Adam K.B.
This week we finished our Tikkun volunteering period in Tel Aviv. There was a lot of sadness about saying goodbye to the cute kids from the Elifelet gan (though they seem to have given us lice at some point, yeughh), and a lot of happiness about returning to Jerusalem for chofesh! We have so many memories here, and (for most of us) in the Etgar flat in particular, which I think makes it a good place to transition into the next part of the program. Looking back to move ahead, you could say. Also there's a lot less cockroaches here.
Everyone's been taking good time to relax, of course, and also to do whatever they've not found time yet to do in Jerusalem. Shout out to Abraham, who came on the bus from Tel Aviv with us - it was lovely to catch up and hear about his experiences at Magen David Adom. And shout outs also to Morgan, Jason, Mili and Tilda, who've been away on England and Germany camps and who'll all be rejoining us so soon!!!! Can't wait!!
On Sunday we're heading to Kibbutz Lotan which is very exciting!! It's going to be very different to anything we've experienced so far, so it's a little daunting but also so cool (well, not in the literal sense). Caroline and I are excited to see some of the friends we made on Chavaya camp, and we're all excited to make new friends!
From IMPJ's Journal
It has been a while since we had the pleasure of sending you a regular monthly newsletter. Unfortuantely, we had to update you on adverse developments in the public arena, specifically in regards to the freezing of the Kotel Resolution and the Conversion Bill.
Last week, we commemorated Tisha b'Av, the day of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, and earlier this week we celebrated Tu b'Av, the Jewish day of love. It is no coincidence that a day of mourning and a day of love fall on the same month in the Jewish calendar. Marking these two contradicting days within a two week period reminds us that our lives are filled with mixtures of ups and downs, positives and negatives, and that we are obligated to recognize, relate and see them both through. It is no wonder that Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel states in the Ta'anit Tractate of the Mishna that "Israel does not have two better days than the 15th of Av and Yom HaKipurim", refering to the Day of Atonement in the same vein as the day of love.
We concluded last week with the Pride Parade in Jerusalem, where members of our movement joined over 20,000 Israelis who marched on the Jerusalem streets demanding that everyone recieve the right to love whomever they choose. On the sidelines, stood those who still choose the path of blind hatred.
As we continue fighting to rid darkness and blind hatred from our midst, we do not cease from spreading love and positive steps forward; the Pride Parade, our annual "Havayah" summer camp, which just ended, the amazing work of our congregations and so much more sheds light over Israeli society and we have no doubt that it is reducing the darkness that is still left to be ridden.
Wishing you a continued Hodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
Over the past month, Noar Telem, the IMPJ youth movement, had its highlight of the year –Camps Havayah (the word for experience in Hebrew, but also an acronym for freedom and Judaism). 270 campers, from 3rd to 9th grade, participated in an incredible variety of activities – sports, creative prayers, volunteering in the community and hiking to name just a few. Through these activities, which were led by our youth counselors (high-schoolers who grew up in the movement), the campers established and strengthened their relationship with Reform Judaism and its values, whilst having a great time and making new friendships.
One of the experiences many campers marked as an important part of their summer was the involvement of a group of youth with special needs in the camp, part of a unit called Hamula. Through joint activities and daily interactions, the campers familiarized themselves with a part of society which they might not have been exposed to in the past. Meanwhile, the Hamula campers got to enjoy hanging out with other campers and being a part of the Havayah.
Another favorite experience is Shabbat. It begins with camp-wide Kabbalat Shabbat with campers, counselors, staff and faculty enjoying prayers, using both classic and new tunes. After dinner the campers split back into their age groups (Eidot) for Oneg Shabbat. On Saturday morning the camp splits into our young camp (grades 3-6) and big camp (grades 7-9, including CIT), for Shacharit, Saturday morning services, but come back together for the Torah Reading. Saturday continues with activities on various subjects focusing on Jewish values and texts. The whole camp then comes back together for Havdalah.
Another major event in our summer was the famous “Color War”. A tradition borrowed from American summer camps, during these 24 hours the entire camp is split into 2 colors which compete against each other in a wide variety of competitions, from games of chess to a camp-wide tug-of-war. This year's theme was Vikings and our two clans fought bravely, when the red ending up victorious.
Representing Global Reform Judaism at the United Nations
From WUPJ's Newsletter
On August 10, 2017 representatives from the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), and ARZENU, the International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists, met in person and virtually to discuss the global Progressive movement’s efficacy at the United Nations in New York. Currently the URJ, of North America, and WRJ have six seats each affiliated with the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations. The World Union has six seats in New York plus representation in Geneva and Vienna in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), meaning WUPJ has the ability to speak and intervene during commission meetings.
The purpose of the meeting on August 10 was to begin to craft a global strategy and identify key areas of interest and importance at the United Nations that best represent our constituents while at the same time potentially mobilizing congregations worldwide in campaigns that meet shared interests of WUPJ and the UN. Also joining the meeting was Hillel Neuer of the NGO UN Watch and Amir Sagie, Deputy Counsel General of Israel in New York. The result was a renewed effort for global communication and coordination in our presence at the UN as well as a basic framework for the identification of key issues, of which Israel is key.
Currently, there is very little denominational presence from the Jewish community at the UN and influence is relegated to development-oriented organizations like World Jewish Congress. The goal of WUPJ at the United Nations in New York and Europe is to elevate our influence on key issues while partnering when relevant with other Jewish NGOs, other faith-based NGOs, and the Israeli Government. UN Reps are happy to make presentations at congregations or regional meetings about our ongoing work at the UN.
Amy Sheinberg, Managing Director of ARZA
Reuven Marko, Chairman, IMPJ
Rabbi Lea Muhlstein, Vice Chair of ARZENU
Tamar Tikkun Olam Seminar Revisits Rio Doce River to Continue Working For the Community
“The month of July 2017 marked 20 months of the day when the mud from Samarco reached the ocean. Twenty months of mud and struggle. Today we get together to remember, we get together to feel, we get together to pray, we get together to act for the regeneration of the Rio Doce river. We chose life. We want more Maim Le Chaim: water for life.” –Rabbi Uri Lam
The Areal Community, in the district of Linhares in the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil, was one of the communities affected by the mineral residues from the rupture of the dam of the Samarco mining company in 2015. Located in the mouth of the Rio Doce river, the community, made up of 250 indigenous inhabitants, was deprived of the only leisure activity that the population had: swimming in the river and lakes. The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) together with the Unidos Pela Vida (UPV) (United for Life) Institute visited the region in December 2016 during the 1st Tamar Tikkun Olam Seminar. At that time, young Jews from Brazil helped renovate and revitalize the headquarters of the institute. With the objective of strengthening our relationship with the community and providing continuity for the project, a new visit was planned. In preparation for this visit, our partners visited the community various times to find out what their main demands were. Among the many necessities, they identified that there was an urgent need for an alternative leisure activity to occupy the people’s free time, mainly the children’s, in a healthy and productive manner. Based on the children’s request, we decided to build a soccer field.
The WUPJ fundraised during the semester before the trip to buy the equipment necessary and sent a team of 14 volunteers from all over Brazil that worked together with the local community to build the soccer field. Other collaborators also participated in a special way: the Jewish Agency of Intercultural Exchange with financial support; architect Julia Herszenhut who drew the blueprints; local companies who sponsored the uniform and the Corinthians soccer club that supplied the soccer balls.
Tamar, the young adult movement of Netzer Olami of the WUPJ, and Marom, as well as the Rio Hillel, collaborated by advertising the program, which also had the support of the KKL in Brazil. The chief of the tribe, José Barcelos, brought the community together to help build the field.
On Sunday, July 30, the field was handed over to the community. The event was attended by Fabiano Eller, retired fullback and left fullback, who played for Fluminense, Flamengo, Vasco, the Brazilian National Soccer team, Atlético de Madrid and other soccer teams. He kicked off the game that inaugurated the field. That day, Andressa Ledermann Pomeroy, a dental student and volunteer from the Tikkun Olam Seminar, gave all of the children in the village a dental hygiene kit with toothpaste and toothbrush and taught them hot to correctly conduct dental hygiene.
The team of volunteers from the Tikkun Olam Seminar delivered five suitcases filled with books donated to the village’s library and the headquarters of the UPV Institute. The structure will be used as a sports court for the school (that has 60 students from kindergarten and elementary school) that does not have a location for their physical education classes. The field will also be used as a meeting and social interaction place by the community since it did not have a public square before.
In their own words, participants shared these reflections and impressions of their participation and volunteerism:
“It was an amazing experience and I hope to take what I learned for the rest of my life. I met people that really became part of my life…” –Pedro Fontoura, Belo Horizonte
“The first time we helped to renovate the Casa Rosa, a community space where they conduct various activities and it was very nice to see that the Casa is full of life! This time we went to build a soccer field. I hope to be able to participate more times!” –Vitor Malak, Rio de Janeiro
“The soccer field turned out beautiful, I could not imagine the result, even knowing that God was on our side since the rain always stopped so that we could work and began again after we finished for the day.” –Marcelo Schapochnik, KKL
“Knowing the reality of the native community of Areal from a Jewish viewpoint made us “dive” into the Rio Doce river, question the role we have to make this world a better place – for all. By participating on the reparation of the world, we fulfill a Tikkun atzmí process, of internal, personal improvement. Unforgettable.” –Rabino Uri Lam, Belo Horizonte
“It was something done with the physical body, soul and heart. I felt part of that community, at the moment when we all grabbed the tools together to build that soccer field (…) all of this made me realize that yes we can help build a better world.” –Karen Cherman Schvinger, Rio de Janeiro
“How should I start a testimony about an incredible experience when there is a lack of words and an abundance of feelings? Carrying hoes and tools until my hands were full of sores (…), and at the end see the smiles of the local population with their eyes shinning from so much gratitude. Sometimes we search for happiness in large and futile things, however the real happiness is in the special moments lived with emotion.” –Andressa Ledermann Pomeroy, Rio de Janeiro
“Last time [in December 2016], I left Areal with the feeling that I should have done a lot more; being able to contribute with a soccer field, planning and building was very little next to what I would like to do, seeing the happiness of the community and the hope in the eyes of those who are victims of this tragedy gave me more strength to go forward and continue on the task of changing the world a little at a time.” –Julia Herszenhut, Brasília
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.
Our shnattim graduating their Hebrew lessons in Tel-Aviv
During our time in Tel Aviv, a small handful of us attended Hebrew lessons at Ulpan-Or ‘Hebrew at the speed of light’. For many of us, it was lovely to have this break from the volunteering twice a week and became the highlight of our weeks. The atmosphere that was created at Ulpan was an inspiring, educational and banter filled one.
At the beginning of this week Tommy K, Caroline, Adam KB and I ‘graduated’ from our respective Hebrew classes. We could not be more appreciative for the people we met and the vocabulary we learnt from our various classes. We are all very grateful to our Hebrew teacher Shira, who we also caught up with for drinks later at a lovely outdoor bar with live music. All in all our Ulpan experience was inspiring and brought many of us closer together.
A glimpse into RSY- Netzer Summer Camp
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