Dear parents, shnattim, bogrim, bogrot, communities and friends shalom rav,
We hope you are well.
A sad night last night in Israel, as a terror attack took place in Tel- Aviv (http://www.haaretz.com/ ; http://www.jpost.com/ ). Thankfully, our shnattim were far away, involved in their respective programs.
The Etgarniks were doing a massive cleaning to their flat, as part of their Sikkum (closing) week, which they planned and ran for themselves. This has been a well-planned week, which included a lot of summaries, one on ones, fun, and a good portion of EDUCATION- just the way we like it! There were also a lot of cleaning time, as it was very needed, and hopefully by the end of the day, we will be able to see the floor again….. J One of the huge things that was finally compiled is an educational booklet in regards to the Israeli- Arab conflict, which reflects the whole educational rational and even optional sessions to run to different age groups in their home snifim. This is yet another impressive achievement of the current Etgarniks, led by the brilliant Danit and Ady, who have been such talented and inspirational Etgar tzevet!
The Machoniks were enjoying their Northern Tiyul (hike). They left on Monday morning to the north to have their closing week in nature, cherishing their unique experience, and seeing yet more sites in Israel. They visited in Tzfat, kayaked in the Jordon River, saw an Idan Reichel performance, and hiked in the Chatzbani, creating some more memories and special moments together.
This afternoon both programs will come to an end, in bitter- sweet feelings, and all of Shnat Ma'ayan will share the weekend together in their home- Beit- Shmuel. This weekend is semi- structured, and will include time together, going to a water park, touring the Old City of Jerusalem and doing services- Netzer style! This is going to be a great weekend, which is perfectly suited for the holiday we are celebrating this weekend- Shavu'ot. Shavu'ot is knows as a harvest holiday, and for us on Shnat Netzer it is time to acknowledge the growth and harvest the beautiful fruits- see how our shnattim blossomed in the past few months.
Next week the Northerners will be on their last week of Shnat. We will go together to Kibbutz Lotan and finish in Jerusalem, bringing the year to a close, at the same places it started last October.
May the holiday usher peaceful and meaningful times.
Weekly update by Charley Katan
It feels extremely surreal to be sitting here writing this particular weekly report. It’s nearly 10am on the last day of Etgar, and I’m typing at a computer in the Netzer Office (something I’ve done a lot this week), feeling very comfortable and at home, although in the back of my mind there’s a constant reminder that it’s not home for that much longer. I’ve been on the planning committee for this week’s Sikkum Seminar, and this week has certainly contained elements which represent almost every aspect of our Etgar. We’ve had a ma’amad at least once a day, we’ve all ran educational or fun programmes for each other, we’ve recreated our favourite meals, we’ve made a lip dub, we’ve heard from some of our favourite teachers, we escaped from secret rooms, and we’ve cleaned. We have cleaned the flat like no one has ever cleaned a flat before.
But aside from the logistics of what we’ve done this week, I think there is a lot of value in me using this platform to describe what it feels like to be a Northern shnattie, and seeing the end date (and the airport) in sight. It’s funny, because as I write about knowing that our time is coming to an end, I think there’s a large part of my brain that simply refuses to believe it. Even though I know that in 2 weeks I will be thousands of miles away from this place, I still feel that I have weeks and weeks left on either side of me. Even though I know that in two weeks, the majority of the people who have made this experience so absolutely life changing for me will be scattered around this planet - some nearer than others, but some literally on the other side of the planet - I feel closer to these people than ever. A small part of my brain is annoyed at myself for loving these people so much, because if I didn’t love them this much I wouldn’t be so afraid of how much I’m going to miss them. But I like to silence that part of my brain, because I know that thought is stupid and I am so infinitely grateful and feel so privileged to have had an experience like this at all.
Are you ready for some clichés? On reflection, Shnat, and specifically Etgar, has been the most character defining thing I’ve ever been given the chance to do. I feel like that’s the best way I can sum up my feelings right now; I can’t quite think of the words I need to express this feeling. But I’m heading into Shabbat b’yachad and Shnat Sikkum week feeling a lot of love, a bit of sadness but a lot of gratitude.
Will finish with my favorite photo of Etgar, curtesy of the amazing Danit!
Weekly update by Mikaela Webb
I’m not even sure how to write about my experience of Etgar, No matter if it’s now with all these fresh emotions and experiences and knowledge, or in a few months or years' time when I’ve had all the time in the world to process it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to describe the essence of the experience, but I can tell you that Etgar has given me a framework for understanding how I want to live the rest of my life. We became so much more than just flat mates - we were an intentional community, committed to ideology and creating experiences that fulfilled what we believe. It’s impossible to comprehend how much I learnt about Israel, Zionism, Judaism and people in general, and moreover Etgar gave us all a platform for expressing all the things we learnt. Most importantly though, Etgar has made me understand the way I want to live the rest of my life, through my experiences with communal living and the power that this incredible group of people has given me.
The Goodbye Weeks/ Maya Pollack
I haven’t written for a while but trust me, it’s definitely not because of a lack of inspiration. Just as an example, I am currently writing this post laying on the bank of the Jordan River – if that’s not inspiration then I don’t know what is! My mentality in my last 2 months since I’ve written has just been to go out and experience as much as possible. Unfortunately that has meant that in the down time that I do have – I mostly spend sleeping.
I’ll give you a quick run-down of events to catch you up.
In the past two months I’ve…
– Celebrated my birthday! I went to the Dead Sea for the weekend and then on the day I went to the beach in Tel Aviv and then went to an amazing restaurant for dinner that night.
– Heard a talk from and then met Martin Luther King Jr.’s son
– Celebrated the many holidays that are this time of year including Yom Hashoa (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron (the Israeli Memorial Day), and Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
– Recorded a CD at a professional recording studio
– Had my last classes with the program I’m on
– Visited Ramallah with JStreet (the de facto capital of the West Bank)
And these are just the big things! To say the least, my last months in Israel have been packed with adventure and memories.
About a week ago we started the goodbye weeks. These are the last 3 weeks of my time in Israel. Saying that it is taking 3 weeks to say goodbye seems ridiculous! However, when I think about it, it took us around 3 weeks to say hello so why should we spend any less time saying bye. The first week of goodbye was the last week of classes. I said goodbye to all my teachers, had our final discussions, and moved out of my dorm. This week is saying goodbye to the other programs that I have been living with for 4 months. To do that, we have gone on a 5 day trip to the north! We are hiking, kayaking, touring cities in the north like Tzfat and Nazareth, and just being with each other. On Thursday I’ll have to say goodbye to those 40 amazing humans and start my goodbye weekend to the southerners in my program. That weekend we will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot and hug and cry. Then on Sunday I’ll leave for Kibbutz Lotan with the original group of 15 other people who I started this journey with. We all started this year on Lotan together so it’s fitting that we will end it there. I will be on Lotan for 4 days and then will spend my last night in Jerusalem before leaving for the airport on Thursday morning.
It’s crazy to think that it has come to the time in the year that I have to say those things. Those are my next and last 8 days that I have left. Yes they will be packed full of hard goodbyes but those goodbyes are with people who constantly inspire me and have truly impacted my year. I’m so lucky that after this year I’ll have good friends in every corner of the globe! I better start saving up for those many trips to Australia, South Africa, and England!
+ Israel Update
Has the Kotel deal reached a brick wall?
Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer who passed away last week, once said that we all have the power to create change:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small [people] who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it."
Several months ago, we proved Muhammad Ali right. The Reform Movement in Israel and in North America, together with Women of the Wall, the Jewish Federations and the Conservative Movement, reached a landmark deal with the Israeli government that everyone thought was impossible. After a decades-long fight, the government agreed to create a permanent, non-Orthodox egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, and to designate the Kotel’s plaza as an official public space that would no longer be under exclusive Orthodox control.
The government promised to come up with a plan for the deal's implementation by June 1. But promises yielded to political pressure and procrastination. All the while, visitors to the Kotel continue to be assaulted by the gender police.
Rabbi Michael Lezak, a rabbi of Temple Rodef Shalom in San Rafael, California told me that during a trip to Israel, he went with his wife and three daughters to visit the Kotel. When a State-paid usher from the Kotel modesty squad pounced on his 6 year old and demanded that she wear an ugly shmata, Rabbi Lezak looked at his wife and said, "That's it. We're leaving. We're not exposing our daughters to this."
The Reform Movement has jumped into high gear. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, flew to Israel last week with a delegation of progressive Jewish leaders for the single purpose of meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and to express our frustration at the government’s foot-dragging. Netanyahu acknowledged the lack of progress but doubled-down on his commitment to “one wall for one people.” We told the Prime Minister that that if the Kotel deal is not implemented, it will signal an unprecedented rupture in the deep and longstanding connections between North American Jews and the State of Israel. Hopefully the message came across.
We have agreed to give the government a few more weeks to meet its obligations. Netanyahu says he is committed, and we are too. But if the government doesn’t step up, or tells us that its hands are tied and that implementing the deal is “impossible,” we will need your support.
Are you coming to Israel this summer? If so, send us an email and let us know. We'll keep you updated about future events at the Kotel.
We won't be deterred by words like impossible. As Muhammad Ali said: "Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Rabbi Noa Sattath
With Shavuot just around the corner, we find ourselves looking beyond the delicious dairy and cheesecakes, to the beautiful meaning of this holiday. From harvests to Torah, click through to learn more and find out for yourselves 9taken from the URJ website)-
Shavuot, known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, is reflected in the Bible, which recounts how, after the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel proceeded to Mount Sinai in the desert. Moses ascended the mountain to meet God, who gave him the Ten Commandments, which were written on two tablets to be delivered to the Children of Israel.
According to the Torah, it took precisely 49 days, or seven weeks, for the ancient Israelites to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai. The Torah commands: "And you shall proclaim that day (the 50th day) to be a holy convocation!" (Leviticus 23:21). The name Shavuot, "Weeks," symbolizes the completion of this seven-week journey. The rabbis tightened this connection by associating Shavuot with Moses’ receiving the Torah from God atop Mount Sinai.
Shavuot also is a harvest holiday. In the time of the Temple, the ancient Israelites brought their first fruits to the Temple to offer to God at Shavuot. Along with Sukkot and Passover, it is one of the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals), during which people gathered in Jerusalem with their agricultural offerings.
Shavuot is known by several names: Chag Hashavuot (the Festival of Weeks), Chag Habikkurim (the Feast of the First Fruits), and Chag Hakatzir (the Festival of Reaping).
SWEET NOODLE KUGEL RECIPE
Kugel — the creamy egg noodle casserole that's a staple of Jewish holiday cooking—gets a Midwestern topping of cornflakes in this Thanksgiving side dish, developed by chef Mary Sue Milliken. It first appeared in our November 2013 issue with the story State of Grace (http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/sweet-noodle-kugel )
Salt, to taste
1⁄2 lb. wide egg noodles
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
3 eggs, separated
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 1⁄2 cups cornflakes cereal, lightly crushed
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain noodles; set aside.
- Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter; set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Using a hand mixer, beat 8 tbsp. butter, plus sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add cottage cheese and sour cream; mix until combined. Add noodles and toss to coat. Gently fold in egg whites. Transfer mixture to prepared dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with crushed cornflakes, and dot with remaining butter; bake until golden brown, 40–45 minutes.
+ 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
And here to one of the most awesome videos I've seen in a while!!!- https://youtu.be/eZCTlSGlO80
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom,
Lior and the Netzer staff
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