Dear parents, shnattim and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well.
This week is a very special one here in Israel. It is a microcosm to the history of the Jewish people as a whole, and for the establishment of the State of Israel in particular. This week encapsulates all the things the Jewish people went through, from good to bad, hope to despair, growth, normality, sadness and happiness. So is the proximity between war to independence, destruction to growth and strength, and death to life. Today we commemorate the fallen soldiers and the victims of terror, and tonight, almost too too soon, we will go out to the streets to celebrate Israel's 68th.
This of course is a fascinating time to be here, and our shnattim went through so many experiences in the past week, to which they refer on their weekly updates below. They have been all over Jerusalem, experiencing life in and out these special days.
In continuence to last week's quotes, here is another one I found this week, by Charley Katan, a Shnatti from RSY- Netzer (UK)-
I'm not usually one for profound Facebook statuses (instead preferring to use this platform for baseless self promotion and lacklustre humour), but tonight I find myself with a thought I can't help but share.
I started today, Yom Hashoah, standing in silence, listening to the siren in Jerusalem's Zion Square. We then proceeded to Yad Vashem, where we spent time in the museum and heard the testimony of a holocaust survivor.
This evening, I found myself playing my guitar in a living room in the Baka neighbourhood of Jerusalem, surrounded by 21 other Jews, all of us fixated and dedicated to our musical craft, spirituality and creating meaningful prayer experiences for people of all religions. This was my second time rehearsing with Nava Tehila.
And to think that 70 years ago, the idea that this could ever happen - a gathering of 20 something Jews from across the globe, aged between 18 and 60, praying loud and proud, rehearsing for the progressive Jewish Kabbalat Shabbat service they are putting on the following evening; all of this in Jerusalem - would have been beyond incomprehensible.
So, tomorrow evening, when it comes to our Shabbat service, I'll be focusing on the extreme gratitude I feel to able to be a loud, practising, privileged Jewish woman, and all of those who were killed for filling those same criteria.
May their memories be a blessing.
I will finish with a short piece by Prof. Asa Kasher-
“We tend to say about the State of Israel that it was established on the 5th of Iyar, 5708.
Thus, the precise name of the “Declaration of Independence” is “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel”. On that day, the State of Israel was established as a political and legal entity; however the formation process of the state, in the full sense of this historic expression, began on that day and is not over to this very day.
We have not yet finished the establishment of the state.
We have not finished extracting the Jewish People from the Diaspora,
We have not finished extracting the Diaspora from the Jewish People,
We have not finished establishing the internal relations of the state, including its identity and its constitution,
We have not finished establishing the external relations of the state, especially those between us and the neighboring people.
Therefore, each one of us can still take part in the historic process of establishing the state. Each one of us can still take responsibility for a part of this awesome process. The Holiday of Independence (Yom Ha’atzmaut), whether in ceremony or in text, can also be an expression of this.”
Hope you all have a meaningful week in your home communities.
Weekly update by Sam & Sammy
Hello everyone! We'd like to take you brought some of the highlights of our week as part of Mechinat Etgar! We have had an emotional week, what with Yom haShoah and Yom hazikaron in the same week
This week, we travelled to Kol hanshama together, to come together for Erev Yom haShoah to remember the victims of the Holocaust. We were then fortunate enough to see the effects of the siren in Zion square the next morning and to see everyone's world stop dead in its tracks during such a usually busy time was very surreal and something we know we've only ever witnessed something like that once before. The power of stopping to remember really touched the kvutsah (group) to the extent that we all talked about it for the rest of the day, the sound of the siren, being the start of a fascinating and memorable day as we went straight from the square to Yad Vashem, where we were met with a stunned silence by the groups already there as the bridge we crossed both physically and emotionally into the underground museum. We quickly walked through the exhibition learning about people experiences throughout the Shoah. This lead fittingly onto the children's museum because the contrast of the facts, pictures and stories of the museum, to the abstract memory of the one and a half million names that were recited as we walked through a dark room, lit by reflections on reflections of candles, flickering as we walked past them perished during the holocaust. This contrast, highlighted the way different people remember the holocaust and their interpretations. We ended the day with a talk from a survivor, which was fitting way to end the day.
After the weekend, Sam and Sammy were the madrichim of the week and organised a time on Sunday night to talk about the etgardeology, with which we split into groups again to talk about the aims of writing out our ideology. Due to Sam and Sammy, organising the first activities in the morning before classes so that we could make the most of our time, we started Monday morning with a ma'amad in which we all sat in a circle, facing outwards and then spontaneously sang songs! For Yom Tnua we went to Tel Aviv to the beach, playing Northern vs. Southern football or as they embarrassingly referred to it as soccer! And then we went swimming, had a squad photo and watched the sunset while singing Charley and Ella's ma'amad.
The next day, the morning activity was a memory game which led us to classes and then we had our first rehearsal of the performance we are putting together- Square: a geometric identity which went well! The Yom hazikaron ceremony at night was beautiful, regardless of it all being in Hebrew, the names and pictures made some of us cry, it was a lovely moment.
Love from your madrichim b'shavua, Sam and Sammy ❤️❤️
Weekly update by Beth Raphael
Shalom friends from around the world,
This last few weeks have been exceptionally busy for us machonikim, as we joined with the rest of the country in commemorating the losses of many lives. On Wednesday, after hearing different accounts of IDF experiences, we attended a masa ceremony for Yom Hazikaron, remembering the fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks here in Israel. This day was especially poignant to me as two elderly women had been stabbed in an act of terror just that morning. I had woken up to a message from our beloved Orit, asking us to confirm our presence on campus and then started the day with an announcement that we were on lockdown. This unfortunate timing spoke volumes to me; here we were, about to hear of the role of the IDF in Israeli society, when it was painfully obvious that they are vital here and protection is greatly needed.
The masa ceremony was very large, dramatic and at points, rather emotionally manipulative, using death to evoke nationalism. A large bulk of the ceremony was hearing 6 testimonies of 7 people who had died through terrorism or in active duty. I was moved to see the strength of their families and the wonderful words that were spoken about them. However, I felt that some of the tragedy was taken away by the focus that their deaths had almost been necessary to create the state of Israel. I was also incredibly shocked by how young the victims were, being 18, 19, 22 and 32. The youngest 18 year old was a masa participant, just like us, who was simply on his way to volunteering. Having also been that volunteer in Israel when we heard of the horrific death of Ezra Shwartz, it was painful to think how innocent he was in his death. As we all stood together for the siren, I thought of how sad but immensely powerful it was that a whole nation was thinking and remembering altogether. How confusing it is to have a nation for the price of many soldiers whilst being aware that this immense sacrifice bares us the responsibility to support and contribute to that same nation.
On a lighter note of the week, on Monday afternoon, we abandoned our usual schedule for Yom Tnua and headed to Tel Aviv beach. There was swimming (until shouted at by lifeguards), football, watermelon and a few Nava Tehila renditions in classic Ma'ayan fashion. It was really wonderful to have the chance to chill, have fun and just be with each other, which was what we all needed. As the last few weeks of my shnat are upon me, I had the opportunity to think of all the amazing people that had surrounded me over the year. After a shakshuka and chips dinner, Ella and Charley ran a ma'amad focused on mindfulness, giving us a chance to focus on the final few weeks ahead and what we wanted from them. The combination of amazing people, the sea and some good old Ma'ayan singing meant it was a lovely afternoon and evening.
Sending love and best wishes, Beth Raphael x
+ Israel Update
A Yom Ha'atzmaut message from Anat Hoffman, Head of IRAC
It's official. Israelis are happy. We have been ranked the 11th happiest country in the world in the recently released worldwide happiness index.
Yom Ha'atzmaut is an opportunity for us to turn to IRAC's staff, people who work on mending Israel's ailments every day, and to ask them why. What do they love most about Israel? Here is what some of them had to say:
Noa Sattath (IRAC Director): I love living in a place where everyone speaks Hebrew. It is a language that is filled with innovation, humor and profound Jewish roots.
Orly Erez-Likhovski (Legal Department Director): I went this week to see the movie Junction 48, a film about oppression faced by Israeli Palestinians in Lyd. The ability to watch a challenging movie like this in my own local theater reminded me that Israel is a democratic society that is open to tough conversations and harsh criticism of the government.
Ian Chesir-Teran (Diaspora Relations): I love the sense of freedom and community that my children enjoy on our religiously-diverse kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the cows still outnumber the people.
Karen Saar (Executive Assistant): I love the way Israelis think outside of the box. People step on each other's toes to try to find solutions to problems that are sometimes above their pay grade. It can be messy, but it opens up possibilities and allows for creative thinking.
Ruti Carmi (Staff Attorney): I love that Israelis know how to roll with the punches. You can argue with someone for 9 hours and then go out for a drink together afterwards.
As for me, I am not so big on the pursuit of happiness. I find happiness in the pursuit of meaning. Being an Israeli gives my life meaning because I take part in shaping one of the biggest modern experiments in Jewish history: the State of Israel. For that, I couldn't be happier.
Even though our weekly updates focus more on Israel and the process our shnattim go through, we always remember that we are but one part of a big, meaningful and vibrant movement- Netzer Olami- Worldwide Netzer. While we focus on training the next generation of Progressive leaders, it is amazing to see the activities taking place around the world. It is of course heartwarming to see our past Shnat participants leading their Netzer branches all over the world.
A couple of photos I came across last week are below. It is an honor and privilege to see you guys in action. We are so proud of you!
+ The Weekly Portion
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- http://wupj.org.il/Publications/Newsletter.asp?ContentID=1085
+ Shabbat Treat
As the shnattim updated above, on Monday we had the most relaxed and fun afternoon we had in a while. Attached are a few photos to give you a taste of this sweetness, and here are my two favorite ones.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
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