Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well!
This week we had renevations in our office- what a mess!! Smell and dust all over the place! Although I know it is for the better, and once the renevations are over, we will have an even more gorgeous office, it is still annoying to be in this environment. Feeling like you work in a construction site is not that fun. And yet, it is worth it.
That is the feeling I got when Orit, our entering Shnat Director and I, visited our shnattim on Kibbutz Lotan earlier this week. We saw them for the first time in 2.5 weeks, which is a lot of time on Shnat and for us not to be seeing them. They just came back from the date fields, and were all covered in grey dust, sweaty and smelly. And yet, they looked great. They work very hard- some of them for the first time in their lives- in quite monotenioius jobs to be quite honest, and come back very proud that they managed to work for a full day.
I guess my analogy tries to show that It was great seeing the shnattim and how much they learn and grow on Shnat, although the journey is not an easy one. Some people mistakenly call this year "A year off", when it is anything but that- it takes a lot of hard work and persistance to go through it in a meaningful way, and our shnattim are doing it.
Here are some photos from our visit-
Wishing you all a restful weekend. Our shnattim sure need it after their hard work!
Weekly update by Mathilda Wise
Reflection about my experience at RSY-Netzer
By Mili Haber
Everyday consisted of so much effort put in by every member of the tsevet to create a unique, positive camp experience. And I really got to see this happen on Reut RSY Netzer! My experience was not only thought provoking but really created a platform to see the power of Netzer as a youth movement and the power of a united team. Every member of the tsevet, including the mitbach, toranies and roshim put their 'blood, sweat, and tears' in creating a incredible camp experience that the chanichim enjoyed so much!
But this experience also made me think of us as we are a worldwide movement but I found that not enough kids truely understood what Netzer Olami is, and what it meant to be apart of a youth movement. For me this was one of the most challenging moments although the process of me of being on RSY-Netzer was transformative. I could see the influence I was making by mentioning Netzer and Shnat and running a peulot about them. And this just demonstrated the effect of youth empowerment, when there is something that is an issue, it starts with YOU to create the change you want. They began to ask more questions, and engage in conversations, forming opinions and goals for RSY within Netzer.
I could see the difference I was making which has been shaped by Shnat but also my time in Netzer Australia and I could see the significance the previous shnatties had made on the movement but more so on the kids.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, 31/9/17
As I am sure many of you have already heard, this morning’s Supreme Court deliberations did not result in any concrete decision. However, the Supreme Court Justices sent a very clear message to the government, strongly advising them to unfreeze the resolution. As Chief Justice Miriam Naor said, “something frozen can also be melted.”
The deliberations this morning lasted for over two hours, during which the Government representatives tried to convince the court that their commitment to building an egalitarian platform was met. The Justices did not accept this argument.
We were prepared for the fact that a final decision would not be made this morning. In any case, we intend to continue our highly intense campaign over the next couple of months. The Supreme Court Justices clearly indicated today that if the government still refuses to implement the resolution, the court will eventually intervene. We have strong reason to believe that this intervention will be in our favor and force the government to do as they agreed upon over a year and a half ago.
There is no doubt that this is a long and daunting process, but we continue believing that in the end, we will reach the “promised land.” For a more detailed update on today's proceedings, click here.
Thank you for your support during this time.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
President and CEO
From IRAC's Netwsletter
Remember that what has been frozen can also be thawed.
Last Thursday morning we had our day in court. The Supreme Court heard our case about the Kotel for the first time since the Government voted to freeze the agreement to create an egalitarian prayer plaza at the end of June. Since then we have been fighting to compel the Government to keep its word using all the tools at our disposal, and few of those tools are as important as Israel's High Court of Justice.
When we arrived, the first two rows were reserved exclusively for lawyers. The number of lawyers representing the various organizations fighting for the Kotel exceeded the area set for them, plus the first two rows. The stack of papers beside the judge was taller than her. The whole Jewish world held its breath.
We waited in that packed courtroom with hope and anticipation, but we believed that the case was clear. Our demands were just and the only thing keeping the Government from implementing the Kotel compromise were political concerns that ultra-Orthodox parties would leave the coalition. Finally, the judges ruled, and it was 100% in our favor. The Court insisted that Prime Minister Netanyahu reconsider the freeze and asked the Government to give them a good reason why the Court cannot force them to unfreeze the agreement.
The Government was given two weeks to answer the Supreme Court. Fourteen short days to answer. This is much shorter than the usual amount of time expected for a response from the Government and accompanied by immense pressure from the Supreme Court.
Summer is usually a quiet time for us - a time for vacation. This summer, the Government has been pushing our major issues. They thought that by delaying we would take a vacation from our campaign for equality at the Kotel. Help us show them that nothing could be further from the truth.
Please continue to support our fight for freedom, equality, and pluralism at the Western Wall.
Anat and Noa
P.S. These fourteen days are our opportunity before Rosh Hashana to ask for something we would like or that we hope for in the coming year. Send us a note that we will place in the Kotel, all that we ask is that you include a prayer for us that we will get our space at the Kotel
Blog: A window into the wonderful world of Kadimah
I’ve just spent the weekend on Machaneh Kadimah, LJY-Netzer’s summer camp, now in its 70th year. Celebrating this special anniversary, this year’s Kadimah featured the largest gathering of young Liberal Jews in recent memory.
While professionally, as Head of the UJIA Centre for Israel Engagement, I admire and support all the Jewish youth movements, my heart will always be with LJY-Netzer and the camp I have so many fond memories of as both a participant and a leader.
So, for those who weren’t there, here are four little windows into the wonderful world of Kadimah.
1) It’s Friday night. Young people are all dressed that bit more smartly, a whole-camp Kabbalat Shabbat with plenty of singing and a chance to reflect on the week is over and we’ve had a lovely dinner, accompanied of course by a loud, joyous and energetic Birkat Hamazon.
Everyone heads to the main hall for oneg, a giant song and dance session. About halfway through, Hila (the Jewish Agency for Israel UK shinshinit working with the movement) invites all the Israelis, three madrichim and five chanichim, onto stage. A Tel Aviv club classic rings out and they teach the whole camp – participants and leaders – this new, modern Israeli dance. For everyone in that room at that time, Israel is pure fun, positivity and excitement.
2) It’s Saturday morning. I’m with Chalutzim, the 15 year olds, who are camping in the grounds of the main site. It’s Shacharit and RabbiLeah Jordan (the welfare officer) and I have joined the service. When we reach the Torah service, Leah takes out the Torah scroll. Encouraging everyone to come forward and have a look, she shows them some of the features of how a scroll is laid out. Then Leah gets out her tefillin, and talks a bit about what they are, why one might wear them and what their place might be within the Progressive world.
The Chalutzimniks have plenty of thoughts and opinions about the value of various rituals, the role of gender in how we see ritual items and the nature of the divine as expressed in midrash. Serious stuff, discussed in an inclusive way – the kind of conversation that develops and challenges the teenage Jewish identity in a way that only the youth movement framework really can. And it’s only 11am!
3) It’s Saturday evening. Shabbat is over and camp is returning to its normal rhythm. Ananim and Plagim (the 8-11 year olds) are having their fun evening activity, an LJY-Netzer classic gangashlaf. It’s a kind of messy challenge-based team game, complete with sleeping bags and some questionable sandwich fillings!
A first-time leader (and soon-to-be Shnattie) is doing a brilliant job of gently coaxing up a shy youngster to represent their team in a very-slightly-embarrassing activity. She isn’t keen, but with that wonderful combination of non-coercive but inhibition-lowering peer pressure and lots of encouragement and support from a leader that she has built a strong relationship with over the past week, she eventually is persuaded to go up. And wins the challenge! Having gone up probably a tad scared, she comes back to her team a hero and the smile is wide on this nine-year-old face.
4) It’s Sunday afternoon. There have been Liberal Jewish youth camps for 70 years, and to celebrate this anniversary, Kadimah has invited guests to join for a few hours.
Plenty of people have taken up the call, including 35 of the 49 Israel Tourniks and their madrichim, as well as staff and officers of Liberal Judaism and bogrim (old members).
Well over 200 people, the largest gathering of young Liberal Jews for many years, are sat in the main hall for the introduction to the Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon. The lights go down, a pretty decently-made video featuring various members of the tsevet (staff) plays and we are introduced to Alice and the various creatures of Wonderland. As it finishes, the characters come to life in full costume as they appear in the hall!
A sketch later and the scenario is set: the Queen of Hearts’ tarts have been stolen, and each group of participants has to defend their character from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party against the Queen’s allegations.
Split into teams, the participants (and Tourniks) emerge out into the outside field to five amazing inflatables. They rush over to have a go at human-table-football, a Gladiators-style duel, bouncy sumo etc – all in aid of defending their character. With plenty of water on hand to quench thirst, the medic ready to tend to any small bruises and madrichim carefully supervising the young people to make sure all is safe, the next couple of hours pass in a flash.
It’s always a pleasure to visit Kadimah in my role as the Officer for Youth and Education, and the levels of care, education, inclusivity, youth work and ideological engagement are just wonderful to behold.
Secret Shul Goer No 6: St John's Wood Liberal, London
Name of Synagogue: The Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS)
Address: 28 St John’s Wood Road, London NW8 7HA
Denomination: Liberal Judaism (formerly The Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues.)
Rabbi: Rabbi Alexandra Wright
Size of community: 2000 members
I visited the Liberal Jewish Synagogue on a gloriously bright and warm summers day. As I made my way towards the building, along St Johns Wood Road in Central London, I was accompanied by groups of cricket fans, walking towards Lords Cricket Ground, which stands just over the road from the synagogue. It felt like the perfect start to my visit; a quintessentially English atmosphere as hopeful supporters, wearing blazers and straw hats, carried their champagne picnic hampers and chanted their way down the road.
Security outside the synagogue building was tight, but friendly, and after the now obligatory bag-search, I was shown towards the foyer, where pre-service coffee was being served. During coffee, a good number of members introduced themselves, asking the usual who/why/where questions. One helpfully gave me a brief overview of the history of the building; when it was built, when it was bombed, when it was refurbished. Another gave me a copy of their recent magazine. All were incredibly friendly and welcoming. So much so, that I wondered if my cover had been blown. If it had, fair play. If it hadn’t, and all strangers are greeted this way, then LJS is a remarkably welcoming community.
Surveying the crowd, 100 or so people, I couldn’t help noticing that the vast majority were over the age of 60. I wondered if this was due to the timing of my visit, during the school holidays, or an indication of the shul’s location, in an area of London that few families with young children can afford to settle? I asked one of the congregants about this, and was emphatically assured that there is usually a much bigger congregation. He told me that members travel from as far afield as Kent for the weekly service. I suggested that the shul must be doing something right to attract members from such a wide area. He smiled and, pointing towards the door, said “Over there is Lord's. But in here, is the Lord.” It’s a line he’s clearly used before, but I liked it.
At eleven o’clock we entered the ‘sanctuary’, and the service began. A small organ in the corner of the room began to play, accompanied by one male and one female singer, whose names were mentioned but which I have sadly forgotten. They both sang beautifully. The room itself is simple, but striking. Congregants face a curved wall of white, Jerusalem stone that reaches up towards the high ceiling. It gives a sense of serenity and calm. The ark doors are decorated with panels of hammered metal, in various shades, and alongside there are chairs upholstered with swirling tapestries. The effect is elegant and controlled.
The service was led by one lay-member, and by the senior Rabbi, Alexandra Wright. There were no page announcements, but the service was easy enough to follow given that much of it was in English, and there was no skipping of paragraphs or turning to the back of the prayer book at random moments. Subjectively, I found the service a little cold at times, but that is probably my own personal bias showing through. I am used to a loud, sometimes raucous atmosphere, of loud Hebrew mumbling against a low-hum of background chatter. This was quiet, ordered and orderly.
The stand out element of the service was the sermon. I should make clear that I don’t often say that. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the pulpit sermon. I’m sure I’m not the only congregant whose eyes glaze over at a certain point during the sermon; I begin randomly counting ceiling tiles, or tallis bags, or hats. On a Saturday morning, often after a late Friday night dinner, a sermon has to pack a real punch to keep listeners engaged for longer than three minutes. For some people, that really matters. Haven’t we all heard shul members complain about their Rabbi’s lack of oratory skills? For others, it matters not at all, as long as the Rabbi is kind, or caring, or funny, or clever, or diplomatic, or impressive, or ‘strong on Israel’, or great with kids, or marvellous with the elderly, or permanently available at the end of the phone, or any number of other skills which it’s impossible for a single individual to possess. (Which is why nobody in their right mind would become a communal rabbi.)
But I digress. Back to the sermon. Rabbi Alexandra Wright’s sermon began without fanfare. She read from a pre-prepared script from which she didn’t deviate. There was no improvisation and no introductory joke. Her voice was soft within that high-vaulted prayer room and at first, I began to look for something to count. But then, slowly, the steady and measured tone with which she read her sermon began to grip me. And as she read, I began to listen. Suddenly, I realised that she had grabbed my attention, and she held it without wavering for a full 10 minutes. She connected the theme of the weekly Torah portion with current judicial negotiations concerning egalitarian access to the Western Wall. She was thorough in setting out the history of the matter, clear in connecting it with the values of her own Jewish community, and unswerving in her demand for action. All in a calm, quiet but defiant voice. It was an incredibly moving experience.
The service ended as it had begun, with a musical flourish from the organ in the corner of the hall. And then we all filed out towards the Kiddush. The Kiddush was a little sparse, truth be told. Some olives, a plate of cake, some strawberries in a bowl. But the adult who led the Kiddush invited two children to help her, and they beamed with such excitement at being given this important job that the food on the plates seemed unimportant.
After more introductions from members, and a few invitations to visit again, I found myself back in the sunshine of Central London, where cricket fans were still strolling up St Johns Wood Road, carrying yet more picnic hampers. Some were swilling from miniature bottles of champagne. Clearly, the Kiddush at Lords is better. But a morning with the Lord at LJS was a pretty good start to my weekend.
Warmth of Welcome 5*
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.
AZYC Cycling for Kids Kicking Cancer
The Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC) is the roof body that unites the seven Zionist Youth Movements across Australia and New Zealand. The AZYC facilitates a support network between Betar, Bnei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Hineni, Netzer, Tzofim and two pluralist youth organisations in the small communities of Adelaide and Canberra. This year the 2017 Shnat participants have come together to raise funds for Kids Kicking Cancer. This group of engaged young Jews have spent the year learning about Hebrew, Israel, Jewish History and Hadracha (leadership) to go back to their communities and take a position as a Madrich within their cities.
Support this cause and make a difference
Your donation is tax deductible!
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