Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,

We hope you are well.

Every group that comes to Shnat Netzer goes through a journey. The journey is never an easy one, but is always an interesting, meaningful and life changing experience. We encourage our shanttim to take initiative and seize the moment and every opportunity while in Israel. This year is theirs to explore and try new things, achieve new goals and dream. Dream a lot. I could not be more proud of our amazing Shnat Netzer Ma'ayan, who really went over above and beyond in their Shnat, and this past week is a clear example of that-

Two huge projects took place since our last update, last Friday. The first is the birth of the Shnat Ma'ayan CD. The Shnat Netzer Ma'ayan group is highly talented and musical, and back in Karmiel, when we had only the Northern group, we through the option of recording a CD during Shnat. This was done in the past- the last CD recorded was with Shnat Chof a few year ago, which you can hear here. The group took this idea and made it a reality, with the generous help of a donor who wished to cover the fees for the project- Toda Raba Raba to you! Being in the Yellow Submarine Studios in Jerusalem with our group was such a great and rewarding experience. Some pictures are attached! We are still to do some mixing and will upload the final songs to our website. Of you course you will hear about it here.

Though recording the CD was an amazing (and tiring) experience, the highlight of my week was on Wednesday night, when the performance "Square: A Geometric Identity" put together by our Etgarniks, took place. I cannot stress enough how proud and impressed I was by the whole process of our shnattim making this a reality. The performance  was impressive and spoke about a real issue, with some critical thinking by our participants. Anything more I will say will only take away from this powerful experience. Aside from some photos attached, you can find the program's booklet put by the Etgarniks. All is there!

On Sunday we will celebrate Yom Yerushalayim- when West and East Jerusalem were reunited during the Six Day War in 1967. I was born and raised in Jerusalem, and so did my whole family- both my parents were born in Jerusalem, and even my grandparents. My first born took his first breath in Mt. Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem- the same hospital I was born in. In Jerusalem I feel at home, and am so happy that our participants of Shnat Netzer spend a good few months in this unique city- learning its history, walking in the streets where old and new are constantly mixed.

I will finish with these words of wisdom-  

“ the capital of a nation. It’s the capital of Jewish history, it’s the capital of the Hebrew spirit, it’s the capital of the Eternal One of Israel. Above all, it must serve as an example both to an entire country as well as an entire nation. That’s because Jerusalem doesn’t belong just to a country, Jerusalem also belongs to a nation. It must serve as an example to all the House of Israel in its country and in the Diaspora. Major things unite us, the ingathering of the exiles unites us, the building of Israel unites us, the country’s security unites us, the sanctity of Jerusalem unites us. The veryessence of Jerusalem should be a source of brotherhood and of oneness and of Jewish honor, and the people of Jerusalem bear a tremendous responsibility.”

(David Ben Gurion, an excerpt from his remarks at the ceremony where he received honorary citizenship of Jerusalem, 1967)

Next year in Jerusalem. לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה

+ Etgar

Weekly update by Charley Katan

It’s 10AM on the 2nd of June, meaning that we have now officially entered a period of time known as A.S. - After Square. None of us really knew what A.S. would look like, and none of us could really imagine getting to a place where we had accomplished and finished Square; no more 8AM rehearsals, no more all night script writing sessions, no more hoarding of Holy Bagel boxes to use for set and costumes. Looking back over the last 24 hours, I don’t think any of us have ever experienced such a wide array of such intense emotions in such a short amount of time. We woke up frantic - not stressed, exactly; more of a quiet crescendo of energy which began to carry us all away with it as soon as we entered the theatre at 3PM. The dress rehearsal in the theatre was hectic. I found myself queuing the lights and managing the sound (two new experiences, though I think I did a pretty good job and underplaying my inexperience), we had many moments of collapsing into laughter on stage, and it took everyone a while to get used to a much bigger practice area than the foyer of Level 4 in Beit Shmuel. We finished the run through at around 6:30PM, and suddenly it was go-time. People were getting their makeup done by a variety of well-wishing volunteers, around the theatre and the flat you could hear people going over their lines, in every bathroom you could find another dance routine being practiced. But at 7:30PM, we all gathered backstage in some kind of meditative silence. Hand in hand, we all took a moment to breathe, look around us and be grateful for the opportunity we had been given and the amount of work everyone had put in. Truthfully, from that moment, everything blurs into one. Our audience was a very decent size of 80, we had a lot of online viewers, and the show went amazingly. Better than we’d ever rehearsed it - better than I’d ever have thought. The feeling after the final curtain went down was complete and utter euphoria. Love, so much love, surrounded every single person, and we were all completely and utterly carried away by the weight of our own achievement. We ended the night with a surprise pizza delivery (given to us by our favourite people in the world; the Netzer tzevet) and then partied the night away. Wednesday 1st June 2016 will be engrained deep into the memories of every member of Etgar Ma’ayan, as the date that we really went over and above ourselves and created something truly special. What a way to transition into Sikkum seminar next week.


Etgar Image 1

+ Machon

Weekly update by Beth Raphael

Amidst the trepidation of both our Northerner’s departure and the ending of Machon, us Netzer Machonikim have still managed to continue on with our lives and make the most of the last few moments on Machon. The last week has been filled with emotion, frenzy and a lot of being together. We spent Friday together at the dead sea, listening to music, eating sandwiches and floating around in the water until we could no longer bear the pain and the stinging. The relaxed environment epitomises our Netzer Machon kvutzah, close and comfortable and yet happy to do our own thing.

That night, Chloe, Ben R, Ella J-K and I went to Sarah Mali, our Machon director’s house for Shabbat dinner. This was interesting as we saw a new side to her, other than the powerful, smart, inspirational and intimidating side that we see in her professional environment. It was really empowering to give voice to our concerns and wants to improve the Machon program, as well as just having classic Shabbat dinner conversations with someone whose opinions we deem so valid and we value so highly.

In my eyes, the Ma’ayan CD was the climax of us as a large kvutzah. As tedious and long as it was (Miranda and I sought refuge as we made a quick escape to Terem to put her shoulder back in it’s socket), the day represented so much that we have been working towards; a sense of community, leadership (from many individuals, whom we thank so so much), a bit of banter and of course, good ma’amadim (creative prayer services). The CD was a huge success and you should all get excited to listening to our beautiful and angelic voices!

Thus begins our last official week on Machon. Whilst each class finishes with a cliched and cute conclusion, with the classic teacher telling us ‘It’s been great teaching you, please contact me if you need anything more’, our famous or infamous leadership class (depends who you ask), left many of us in awe and others in tears. We reflected on the almost tumultuous but exciting and emotional journey of the discovery of our ‘system’, and how we are going to change these things that seem inherent within us. We left with the understanding that this journey is not over, and our progress to a better self will continue and probably linger for the rest of our lives. We had our own respective dinners in our Chaverah groups on the Sunday night, where we were invited to our Chaverah leader, Inbar’s house for hummus and pita, which was very warm, intimate and cosy. For our last Yom Israel we visited Palmachim beach with the whole of Ma’ayan, which was filled with fun, music and photos really. It was so nice to be together and just hang out, read our books and talk, yet again, about something ideological.

Our last week has been filled with enjoyable and sentimental things. One thing I am trying to focus on doing, is to be mindful of everything I am experiencing, to enjoy the company of those around me, to let myself be upset and sad about the change I am about to encounter, to be excited for the future and just to continue be grateful for the opportunities I have had and the people that I have met. So todah Netzer (and parents) xxxxx E-Sandzzz

At the end of our last Yom Tnua on Tuesday, our last movement time, Lior called our time together “a home”, where we can take off our masks and show our true selves and emotions. This resonated with me hugely, having shed a few tears during our weekly ma’amadim. This is when it dawned on me that the end is coming and I was only a few weeks away from losing this safe space where I have found unconditional love, support and irreplaceable banter. Having felt like the end has been coming since Machon started, nearly 4 and a half months ago, watching all the other machonikim as new shnatties, I thought the end would be simple. Devastation would strike, I would have an emotional plane ride and then sleep for a week. Believe me when I say, it is much more complicated than that. I feel so grateful to have met such wonderful, vibrant people who have become my family here but angry that it will be expensive, time consuming and difficult to see many of them again soon. I’m excited to see my family, friends, drive and have my bed again but also terrified of leaving this comfortable and exciting environment that also feels very much like home. I can’t wait to put everything I have learnt, attitudes and new perspectives into practise but what if nothing will ever be as good as this? As you can see, a multitude of emotions and conflict going on here. Leaving our southerners here, our other half, feels unnatural and scary but seeing them progress through the first part of their shnat, having given so much to us northerners, I am eager to see what they make of the rest of the year and how they grow as individuals and as a kvutsah. Both of Livluv north and south warned us about the north and south union nd shnat as a whole, but nothing could have prepared me. I have grown so much that I am not entirely sure how to return back to my normal life and I often wonder about going straight to university instead of coming on shnat… I can’t think of anything worse. So, as we finish machon and then begin our sikkum activities as Ma’ayan and the northerners, we will enjoy our last days together and try to say goodbye as calmly as we can. I am forever grateful to my kvutsah and to Netzer for this unforgettable year.

Yours truly,
Beth Raphael xx

+ Israel Update

Horror at ‘racist highjacking’ of Jerusalem march/ By STEPHEN ORYSZCZUK

*British Zionist youth movements have expressed horror at “racist” elements “hijacking” the annual March of Flags through Jerusalem to mark Yom Yerushalayim.

Four movements have signed a joint letter to the Jerusalem municipality to change the route of the march away from the Muslim Quarter, as this year’s event falls on the eve of Ramadan and past marches have seen “the intimidation of residents”.

Signatories include Noam Masorti Youth, RSY-Netzer, Habonim Dror and LJY-Netzer, but by Wednesday it was unclear whether Bnei Akiva, FZY, Sinai, BBYO or Ezra will do likewise.

“The m has become an opportunity for the expression of racist attitudes and the intimidation of residents of the Muslim Quarter, which the march passes through,” the letter reads.

“During the march it is common to hear chants of ‘Death to Arabs and to see banging on the doors and windows of homes… Despite these problems, the Jerusalem municipality has this year tripled the budget for the march.”

There is a history of violent confrontation during the marches, and this year’s event is set to take place on the day before Ramadan, a day when Muslim residents decorate their homes and venture out to visit friends and family.

However, although surveys show that most Jerusalem residents would rather avoid this flashpoint and re-route the march, city authorities have so far refused to do so.

“We call on the Jerusalem municipality to prevent these problems by changing the route of the march away from the Muslim Quarter to stop those who want to hijack the event to express their own intolerance,” said the signatories.

“Racist actions are unacceptable and do not represent an appropriate celebration of the city of Jerusalem which we are so connected to.”

+ International

By Joel Stokes, RSY Netzer

Living in close quarters with people from every corner of the globe will inevitably boost personal confidence, whether that be physical, environmental or having the courage to express yourself through unusual means. The confidence and self-belief that can be found from a year away from home is, I believe, quintessential to maintain throughout life at university and adulthood.

Nevertheless, the post gap year feeling, and especially that of a post Shnat-Netzer feeling is real and it hurts.

To use an example – the day after I got back from Shnat-Netzer, my sister had an open day at Bristol University. As I was obviously not needed in the campus tour, I spent 5 hours exploring the town by walking into every bookshop and CD store asking for any Israeli music, films, or literature. I sat on a bench next to a homeless man, we talked for about an hour and I could not understand why he didn’t want to ask me about my experiences, surely he knows about all the cool stuff I’ve been doing? Furthermore, when I eventually got home and reconnected with my best friends, why didn’t they understand the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict and how couldn’t they appreciate how good HaDag Nahash’s ‘Sticker Song’ is? At least enjoy the political irony.

Spending time in the Shnat-Netzer environment, or those similar to it, teaches an individual to look at the world and its people from many different angles. The best way to describe this would be to imagine owning 5 pairs of sunglasses, each of which paints the world in a unique shade. On arriving home, I felt that Shnat had provided me with the ability to freely switch between shades in order to understand and interpret scenarios that previously may have made me uncomfortable, angry or simply clueless.

For me, a great comfort of coming home was knowing that around the world, on at least 4 different continents, there were people who felt the same. Those same people are the people with whom I know I will always be able to relate, they will always be my friends and luckily in the world we live in today, they will always be only a phone call away.

It is imperative to find the balance between trying new things post gap year and continuing to do the things you love, whether it be drinking great Arab coffee, listening to (it has to be said) largely underrated Israeli and Palestinian music or engaging in ‘informed’ discussion on campus.

These are the things, at least I believe, that will keep you sane and will feel like the largest of falafels has been lifted from your shoulders.

+ 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-

+ Shabbat Treat

A glimpse into the CD recording -

I am a parallelogram- a piece from the Etgar performance "Square: A Geometric Identity"-

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, 

Lior and the Netzer staff




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