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ShnUpdate - Tzuf 03.06.21

שלום לכולם!

It's been another busy week on Machon. As usual, Thursday was a packed day, starting off with an early morning session on Dugma Ishit and ending with an afternoon of Hadracha elective sessions. My personal favourite was a philosophy session on Socratic Circles, where we debated the ethics of cheating.

That evening, there was a mass Exodus of almost the entire Machon from Kiryat Moriah to Tel Aviv. This was the first weekend most of us had been able to get away from Jerusalem - it was wonderfully refreshing to get a change of scene. Half of our kvutzah stayed in a hostel while the rest were graciously put up by Ghaim’s cousin. We spent pretty much all weekend chilling on the beach, enjoying the sea for the first time in weeks, and getting some of our Lotan tan (LoTAN?) back.

We returned to the Kiryah late on Saturday night, which meant we weren’t exactly enthusiastic to go to our lessons on Sunday morning. One of Sunday’s highlights for me was our session on Israeli Society where we looked at the history of Israeli elections (particularly over the past two years), mere hours before a coalition agreement was reached and all our notes were basically out of date!

For our Laomek project on Monday afternoon (‘Talking Israel, combatting Anti-Semitism’), Neil took us to Netiv HaAsara, a moshav right on the Gaza border, to talk to some of the residents about their experiences living so close to Gaza - having moved from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 after the Israel-Egypt peace agreement to its current position near Ashkelon, the moshavniks have seen the situation in Gaza become more and more tense. They told us that during the conflict earlier this month, 167 rockets were fired at Netiv HaAsara. After walking around the moshav, seeing the bomb shelters and realising how close Gaza really is to the moshav after going to the viewpoint, we went to the border wall - which has been covered with coloured ceramic tiles (each one has a wish written on the back), and stuck our own ceramics onto the wall. This felt like a really simple yet beautiful way to show our commitment to peace.

On Tuesday, as part of our Hadracha B’Chavurah sessions (peer-leading peulot for our chavurah), Evie and two of the Brazilians ran a peulah on Zionism, helping us grapple with questions like “would the Jewish community survive without the state of Israel?” and “can you be Jewish without being a Zionist?”.

In the afternoon, Lior came to run our Yom Tnua (Movement Day). We hadn’t seen her since we first started Machon, so it was really lovely checking in and catching up with her. Magein David Adom had come to the Kiryah that day, so we had planned to donate blood in one of our breaks, but this ended up taking much longer than expected, and only Lior and I qualified for donation. Even though we didn’t manage to do the peulah Lior had planned for us, we still were able to meet with a member of Women of the Wall (a group of feminist Jews who meet every Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel to pray with a Torah scroll in the women’s and egalitarian section), which was absolutely fascinating. We will be going to a service as soon as we can!

That evening, we went to the Orthodox Rabbi’s house for another pizza/Torah study session, talking about moral dilemmas and about miracles (us getting to Israel being one of them).

Wednesday morning was a highlight of the week for me: our Hebrew class did a Shuk (market) roleplay - I have never tried to haggle for plastic fruit before but it was a lot of fun!

As I write this, I’m on the bus back from Hiking Laomek, this week in Nachal K‘talav, a wadi in the Judean mountains with absolutely stunning views. We hiked down the mountain to the old train station (built in 1892, which used to link Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in pre-State Israel), and then further down to the river where we did some creative writing about water.

We’re so excited to go to Jerusalem Pride tomorrow, for our week of trips in Haifa next week, and for the rest of Machon.

We’d be delighted if you’d give our Instagrams a follow @shnattzuf @shnaliens

Speak soon,

Josh Freedman, RSY-Netzer

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