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

We hope you are well.

I can't imagine our shnattim being more exhausted than how they were a week ago, when I visited them on Rafsodia in the Kinneret. It was about 40-45 degrees Celsius in the SHADE! They were in the middle of building a raft, all dirty, sweaty and beautiful. This was the fifth day for them sleeping outside in sleeping bags, hiking for 10-12 km per day doing Yam L'Yam. These are the best ingredients to create a memorable experience, no doubt. Nonetheless, this is without a doubt one of the toughest weeks of Shnat for the Southerners, which makes the Brexit look like a minor event ;)

Speaking of voting and making a difference- this coming weekend the Australians elections will take place. Our shnattim will have their chance to influence from here, going to vote at their Embassy in Tel- Aviv J 

Right after Rafsodia, our Shnattim headed to Kfar- Saba for a seminar designed especially for them, speaking about community. During the weekend, we were privileged to have the Telem Gar'inikim (the Israeli parallels) joining us and adding some spice to the Shabbat. It was lovely meeting these youngsters, who are completing their volunteering year in Israel, contributing to the community. The Kehila Seminar was really great, and finished on a high note, following a much needed break.

This weekend our Southern group will start a new chapter of Shnat, as they move to Tel- Aviv for their Tikkun period. Tel- Aviv is a very colorful and vibrant city, and out Shnattim will get a chance not only to contribute to the community, but also to experience community living as a group. More tails and stories to follow.

+ The Southern Corner

Weekly update by Tamara Reichman

I write this report sitting at a large, sturdy dining room table in the spacious home of my friend’s uncle and auntie in Ramat Gan, in the glow of a TV blasting a reality show on Bar Rafaeli whilst I basking in the cool breeze of the wall-mounted air-conditioning. This set-up could not be more different to what Ma’ayan has experienced in the past week!

After experiencing what was a scene from a very sad but ultimately uplifting drama film (the Northerners, driving away on a bus. The Southerners, sitting against the wall of Beit Shmuel, sobbing and wailing - thanks Ella Sandler) it was time for Ma’ayan South, or rather now, Ma’ayan, to rebuild their kvutzah, and what better way to do that than to spend 4 days with nothing but the unbearable heat, rocks and trees to distract them from each other. Yam le yam is a renowned ‘tiyul’ in Israel that takes the hiker 89km from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Sea of Galilee in the east. Although we probably completed around a third of that distance due to the Israeli authorities cracking down on the dangers of doing high physical activity from midday to 6pm, we really made up for the lack of achievement in distance, with achievement in our experience as a group. We started in the evening, with a beautiful ma’mad at the campsite. Then it was bedtime, which was smooth after a… discussion about who would have to sleep on the bare ground and not on the mat. Arising at 4:30am, little did we know, the first day was the only day of real, arduous hiking - we trekked 19km with a 3 hour lunch break in which we all (adorably) napped in the shade. The rest of the days and nights were filled with games of categories, mafia, singing and the thing we have missed for months - sit around and just spend time with each other as a kvutzah. On the last day, we carried a guitar 3km uphill to spend a blissful afternoon frolicking in various natural springs - although we were still in the north, we were, finally immersed in Southern Ma’ayan.

On Wednesday we arrived at the banks of the Kinneret, running into the arms of our Hineni and Betar Machon friends, who we had missed for 2 long weeks, and greeting Lia, our beloved Australian ex-madricha. It was Rafsodia, a challenge for all Australian gap year participants to use only poles, rope and metal barrels to somehow build a raft that would sail over the Kinneret. We made many discoveries - the ingenuity of knots, the untapped friendliness of Habo Australians, the utter stupidity of hitching a ride on a teetering pile of wood being towed by a tractor… but the biggest discovery was how well we could work together to achieve what was seemingly impossible, coming second in the race.

Talking about working together… Kehila Seminar was an intense but also grounding 4 days of education, discussion, kef, pizzur, air-conditioning and bonding. It was exciting to meet the Noar Telem Garim, although they were outgoing in more ways than one - it was their last week of their Shnat. After the previous week, the seminar developed and cemented our identity as a kvutzah and had us looking not just to the immediate future of growing ourselves, but to our long term goals of improving our own Kehilot back home.


And here is a video by Yigal Sela, Head of the ZFA office in Israel-

+ Israel Update

Victory for LGBT Rights on Pride Month

Iris and Anna, citizens of Russia, met in 2006 and fell in love. As same-sex marriage is not an option in Russia, they tied the knot in Denmark in 2013 when it became legal for non-citizens to marry there. With one dream accomplished, Iris felt ready to fulfill her calling to live as a Jew in Israel. Anna, who is not Jewish, agreed and the couple decided to make aliyah in 2015.

In 2014, IRAC secured immigration rights under the Law of Return for non-Jewish partners in same-sex marriages, equal to the rights of married heterosexual couples. So if Iris and Anna were Danish citizens, their immigration application would have been granted without a fuss. But because Russia does not recognize Iris' and Anna's Danish marriage license, the Interior Ministry claimed that the 2014 regulation IRAC fought for did not apply to them. Instead of recognizing the status of the immigrants who were legally married in another country, the Ministry preferred to side with the country that was denying them their rights.

IRAC’s Legal Aid Center for Olim (LACO) appealed the decision, claiming that Anna had the right to new immigration status because she is Iris's wife. The Interior Ministry was willing to grant Anna a temporary, one-year working visa, but we were not satisfied and appealed the decision again. When the Interior Ministry didn't respond, we petitioned the Supreme Court in February 2016.

Last Thursday, the Interior Ministry informed the court that instead of opposing our petition, it would apply the 2014 policy to same-sex couples, like Iris and Anna, whose wedding is not recognized in their country of origin. This means that now, finally, ALL same-sex couples who marry overseas before making aliyah will be recognized by Israel as married under the Law of Return.

Same-sex couples still cannot get married in Israel. But victories like these are welcome steps in the right direction. With this year's Jerusalem Pride less than a month away, we have good reason to celebrate.

If you will be in Jerusalem on July 21, mark your calendars to come march with IRAC at Jerusalem Pride. Details will follow in the coming weeks.



P.S. We welcome yesterday's court decision sentencing Yishai Schlissel to life in prison plus 31 years for stabbing marchers and killing Shira Banki at last year's Jerusalem Pride march.*

+ International

June Opinion Piece By Dr. Ron Weiser

By the time this is published, all being well, I should find myself in Paris for the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting of the Jewish Agency (the Sochnut). The BOG meets in Israel 3 times per year, but every few years one of these meetings takes place instead in a community in distress or under stress – ergo the forthcoming meeting in France.

Such meetings serve a dual purpose – to show solidarity and to support those communities both by programmes and budget as well as to demonstrate to their governments that they are not alone. It is also usually very enlightening for us, the participants. The Jewish Agency has prepared some background on the French community and like all statistics, they have a margin of error and generate discussion, but they also present a pretty good general picture.

Here follows some of that information:

  • Before the NAZIS occupied France in 1940, the Jewish population was about 320,000
  • Approximately 90,000 French Jews were murdered during WW2 by the NAZIS aided by the Vichy French deportation of its own Jewish citizens
  • After WW2 many French Jews returned, as well as Jews from elsewhere and rebuilt the community
  • In the 1950’s and 60’s there was a great influx of Jews from Nth Africa with a doubling in the size of French Jewry
  • By 1990 the Jewish population of France was about 530,000 which has shrunk by some 30,000 Jews today
  • Approximately 40% of French Jews self-identify as Sephardi and just under 30% as Ashkenazi, as to the rest,????
  • About 13% of French Jewish families have at least 1 child enrolled in Jewish Day School
  • Intermarriage in France is around 45%.
  • From 2013 to 2015 there has been a 97% increase in the number of acts or attempts at anti-Jewish terror, murder, physical attacks, arson and vandalism
  • French Jewry is less than 1% of the general French population but is the target of 49% of violent racist attacks
  • Aliyah has gone from just under 2,000 olim in 2012 to just over 7,500 in 2015.
    As part of the meetings, the Israeli delegation will include some government ministers and opinion makers. One of those will be Sofa Landver from Lieberman’s party – Yisrael Beiteinu, who has re-joined the government and regained her old ministry.

Should be interesting.

**Dr Ron Weiser AM

The Zionist Federation of Australia Public Affairs Chairman and the Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW

+ 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-

With a lot of pride, It is time to release our Shnat Ma'ayan CD, on which our group was working on for weeks and weeks.

We would like to send a very special thanks to The Janner- Klausner Family, who donated the money for recording this CD and make it real.


Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, 

Lior and the Netzer staff




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