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ShnUpdate - Tzuf 13.05.21


We are almost two weeks into our Machon program. So far, it has been weird, fun and awkward and I have no doubt it will get weirder, more fun and more awkward as our time here continues.

On Thursday, we had an absolutely brilliant start to the day that everyone always appreciates – a covid test. As we would be having day trips outside the Machon campus the following week, being negative in sickness and positive in spirit is a must. Afterwards, Orit surprised us with some past Netzer merchandise which instantly made us happier. In the afternoon we had some chavurah time with Suzy (our rosh chavurah and favourite person on the Machon so far) where we discussed what it means to write and share a personal narrative.

On Friday and Saturday, we had the days off to relax onsite or travel. While Emma went to visit family, the rest of us stayed on the campus to sleep and rejuvenate for the week ahead. We ended Friday night with a lovely kabbalat shabbat service and shirah with one of our new Chilean friends to draw our first of Machon to a close. The majority of Saturday was spent sleeping and chilling with the South Americans. But, in the evening we decided to go out for dinner and see a bit more of the city. Tali informed us a of an “open” falafel place and took the role of navigator. However, arriving there we see it’s closed, so Tali was cancelled, and a new navigator, Elisheva was appointed to find a nearby pizza place where we had some delicious large pizzas as the city began to come alive for the new week.

Our second week of Machon was Masa Beresheet – a week of day trips around Jerusalem to discover the history of the Jewish people and where they were. But, before the first trip, on Sunday at eight o’clock we had our second vaccine, meaning we are very close to green passport status. Our first trip was to Shiloh, an area deep into the West Bank. Unfortunately, Suzy was away with another group, so we had Ioni take us around the area, explaining the history right from the beginning with the help of other educators. It was an incredibly hot day, so concentration was a little difficult at times.

Monday morning saw only two of our group, Evie and Tali go on the trip as the rest of us were knocked out from the side effects of the second vaccine. (Fortunately, it is normal, but we were still not happy). The day’s original plan had changed from visiting the old city because the tensions and conflict in Jerusalem had started to rise. Instead, the trip consisted of visiting two museums to learn more about Jewish history, including the Babylonian era. As the day finished, we were feeling better and had gained even more knowledge about our past. Oh, and Josh dropped his phone again. He is not very happy about it.

Our journey to Masada and the Dead Sea on Tuesday was a welcomed addition to the week. We left early in the morning to ensure our sessions at the top of Masada were not during peak heat. Ioni and other educators enlightened us on why the region was not spoken about for 2000 years in Jewish history. Eventually, we left for lunch at a nearby beach, giving us time afterwards to float in the Dead Sea. I must say, only being able to float there is such comfort! As the day started to end, we headed back and was informed more about the situation in Israel.

At this point, the situation in Jerusalem is becoming more violent and we are feeling more and more worried. After going into the bunker on Monday night, we realised that we are in a very complex and tense situation. We all are a bit confused on how to feel at the moment – seeing international media coverage of the conflict while being right in the middle of it is quite hard to navigate. Fortunately, the program directors are doing everything to keep us as safe as possible and we are grateful for that. Hopefully, we will be able to return to normal life soon to continue experiencing Shnat as it is intended.

Until next time!

Julian, Netzer South Africa


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