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ShnUpdate - Tzuf 15.04.21

Shalom! Welcome to our very first Shnat Tzuf Update, this will be the first of many ShnUpdates. This week has been a pretty crazy one for all eight of us and one unlike any other first week of Shnat. Since the day we arrived, we have been in quarantine, in Modi’in, and we have had sessions on Zoom run by several external educators as well as the Netzer team.

Friday 9th was a special day for one of our Shnatties. It was Julian’s birthday! We tried to make it as exciting as possible, by having lots of delicious Israeli snacks, playing games together after dinner and eating ice cream cake. After a lovely Opening Tekes run by Orit, Lior (our “Netzer Grandma”) led a beautiful Kabalat Shabbat, with tunes old and new, introducing us to what Tefillah on Shnat Netzer will look like. We then woke up on Saturday morning, had breakfast, and together we sang our way through Shacharit, including a classic LJY version of Mi chamocha, with some funky actions!

Sunday morning came around and Lily led us in an active morning session, and what a way to start the day it was! We sang and danced together, and got our bodies moving, before what was a busy day (or as busy as you can get when in quarantine). We spent Sunday morning focussing on our Jewish Identity, with Lior - we each brought an item with us that demonstrated our connection to Judaism to then share with the group. The items ranged from Judaica (Jewish jewellery), oranges, camp t-shirts and more. After having lunch in the sun, we then discussed our Shnat expectations with Orit, before going on to explore the logistical side of the programme, which got us all very excited for what we’ll be doing together, over the next few months!

For many, isolating in a hostel for ten days may seem daunting and very dull, but when you have people like Julian and Ghaim amongst the group, providing the evening kef, there isn’t time to get bored! The boys educated us all on South African culture, primarily teaching us about food and slang. The Dos and Don’ts, the dishes to try and those avoid. (PSA: Avoid walkie-talkies but definitely try pap ’n’ vleis).

As she said herself, Lior is our “Netzer Grandma” and she has already taught us so much. As a kvutzah, we spent time learning about Netzer, its history and the development of the different branches around the world. We then went on to discuss the “big questions”, exploring where God is in our personal lives, who our role models are, what kind of Jews we are and what type of leaders and people we wish to be. Both of these sessions were insightful and allowed us to start thinking of where we’d like to be five months from now, having finished the programme.

In addition to having sessions about Netzer, we have also spent time, this week, thinking about our mental and physical health whilst on Shnat, as well as how to maintain healthy relationships when living with a group, for an extended period of time. This opened our eyes to things we should consider when supporting each other as well as ourselves, and provided the opportunity to talk about how we can create the safest and most welcoming space for all Shnatties.

As Tuesday evening came around, Israel began preparing for Yom Ha’Zikaron. The eight of us were fortunate enough to experience the power of the silence, as the siren sounded, before watching along with the ceremony held in Jerusalem, for all the fallen soldiers. Although we all understand the significance of this occasion, many of us got chills during the siren and as it stopped, the echo in the distance had just as important an impact.

As I’m writing this, we are preparing to sit down together, to write our Shnat mission statement and our vision for how we hope the next few months to pan out. We are beyond excited to leave this hostel on Sunday and once we’ve had our first vaccination, we’ll finally be able to see more of Israel than just the airport and our isolation home!

Please follow us along throughout the next while, as we explore different cities in Israel and spend time on Kibbutz Lotan and on Machon (in Jerusalem).

If you’d like to keep updated with what we’re doing, more than once a week here, our shared instagram accounts are @shnattzuf and @shnaliens.

- Evie Leibling-Blitz

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