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

We hope you are well.


Our shnattim had a big change this week- they left the big city and moved on Sunday to Kibbutz Lotan, which is located in the south of Israel. It is hard to explain this huge change, but I can sum it up with a this sentence sent by the shnattim "We love it here". That is all I needed to hear this week! The first three days of the week were dedicated to orientation to the Kibbutz, and starting Wednesday, the shnattim started working together in the date fields. Who knew 5:00AM is a real hour?!? Wishing them the best of luck and much enjoyment in this period of Shnat- which is also their last!

+ The Southern Corner

Weekly update by Ella S.

On Saturday night, many of us made the familiar trip of late night bussing into Jerusalem, reminiscent of our time on Machon/ Etgar, praying that the light rail has started up again after Shabbat. We arrived, only to see the Etgar flat dirty and messy as always, immediately dreading the clean up the next morning. However, our newest member, Judith, from Netzer France, (who will be joining us for lotan) met us with bright and warm smile that marred our lack of excitement to clean. Despite the language barrier, Judith is already a loved member of our kvutzah and we can't wait for the next two and a half months with her! After two hours of cleaning the seemingly unclean-able Etgar flat, we were on our way to Lotan.

Three and a half hours later, we found ourselves in 40 degree heat in the middle of the desert with an excited Debby and Mark, our Kibbutz Lotan madrichim. The afternoon began with a scavenger hunt which was followed by a dinner prepared by the Israeli shinshinim, who are Israeli kids our age taking a year off before going to the army. The day ended with a ma'amad (creative prayer service) on the grass in the middle of the kibbutz, which was special as it was the first time us all being together again after five weeks ❤️❤️

The next day we woke up to do an ecological tour, which inspired and amazed us all to change our lifestyles when we get back, which was followed by a fun session of making mud bricks with Mark. We then watched a movie on the history of kibbutzim, forcing us to contemplate the concept of kibbutzim and of course, socialism.

Tuesday began with a 6am start, which will be standard for the next two and a half months. We started working in the garden, which was both physically draining and fulfilling. We spent the rest of the day learning about Lotan; its history and it's current community which really gave us an insight into this inclusive and amazing community that we are joining. After a nice night of games and bonding with the shinshinim, we were all in bed by 10:30 ready for our 5:30 am start the next day.

Thus began our first day of picking dates. It was hard, it was hot, it was tiring, it was tedious, but it was fun, we sang together, had banter and philosophical discussions, we felt like chalutzim and we obviously ate a few dates on the way. After eight hours, we are all pretty exhausted but are looking forward to many more 5:15 wake ups. The vibes are good and the spirits are high, and we are all excited for the spiritual journey that awaits us on Kibbutz Lotan.

Ella Sandler

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  • In the Mo'adon in Lotan*

Weekly update by Nancye K., coming back from leading at RSY- Netzer

For the past few weeks I haven't really been on shnat, but rather experiencing, leading on and learning from RSY Netzer in the UK. This intense, crazy, challenging, unbelievable and amazing experience began with 'Mega Chalutz', a seminar for all 200 madrichim of RSY Netzer. This was an amazing seminar and opportunity to learn from the best educators that RSY had to offer, including our very own Orit Shoshani from Netzer Olami (whose every session I attended and loved). Mega Chalutz also gave the madrichim different opportunities to run discussions and sessions for each other and it was truly amazing to see how so many young reform Jews are so passionate and engaged!

After Mega we said goodbye to everyone and were left with just out Tzevet, I lead on Emunah (13 year olds), and we were given time to finalise out peulot to make sure that we were conveying the information we wanted to in a fun and engaging way, as well as bond the Tzevet and ensure that everyone felt that they were ready to take on the next two weeks. The time soon came when 120 thirteen year olds joined us in Llangranog and camp began! The next two weeks were filled with little sleep, running lots of peulot on Reform Zionism, engaging with the (sometimes spoilt) youth of North London, singing, dancing, learning and most of all having lots and lots of kef!

Although RSY is much bigger that Netzer Australia, runs differently and is situated half way across the world, it was crazy to see how familiar the Netzer environment is and how the camp atmosphere allows both Chanichim and madrichim to experience camp magic and foster lasting friendships and help create a strong sense of both Jewish and personal identity. I would like to thank my amazing Tzevet for helping me make this experience as meaningful and wonderful as it was! As well as being given the opportunity to practice and develop my hadracha (leadership) it was really special to see firsthand how some of our northerners, our missing half of Ma'ayan, experienced Netzer in their lives both pre and post shnat (it was also amazing seeing their beautiful smiling faces again!)

Experiencing and leading in a different sniff is an amazing opportunity that I would encourage everyone to do, it has not only deepened my understanding of how Netzer works globally and helped create networks between the different sniffim, but was also an incredible learning opportunity for myself and has helped me push my boundaries and become more confident as a leader. Thank you RSY Netzer for an incredible couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to rejoining all my lovely shnatties again! :)

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+ Israel Update

74% of Israeli Jews would prefer Egalitarian Jewish wedding ceremonies (taken from Hiddush Newsletter)

74% of Israeli Jews would prefer to have egalitarian wedding ceremonies for themselves or their children, including an egalitarian exchange of wedding rings and an egalitarian Jewish marriage contract, which would include equal obligations for both spouses. 92% of secular Jews and 81% of traditional Jews would be interested in having egalitarian wedding ceremonies. Among Zionist Orthodox Jews, 69% are opposed, but 31% support the idea. The relatively high level of support for egalitarianism among Orthodox respondents once again indicates that the battle for religious freedom and diversity is not between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, but rather between those who embrace democracy and progress, and those who would see Israel become a theocratic, pre-modern state.

Of note: Among voters for the Zionist Orthodox Jewish Home party, 51% would be interested in having egalitarian wedding ceremonies. This is likely due to the high percentage of non-Orthodox Jewish Home party voters.
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The survey underscores the degree to which the Jewish community, including a growing percentage of the religious community, is growing away from the archaic institution of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. The public has clearly expressed that it does not prefer the antiquated and anti-egalitarian wedding ceremony imposed upon it by the intransigent Rabbinate. Many want a Jewish ceremony, but one that matches their values and ways of life, namely a modern, egalitarian ceremony. Nevertheless, the Chief Rabbinate and the Orthodox political parties insist upon non-egalitarian Jewish wedding ceremonies; they are Judaism's number one enemies and breed hatred in the hearts of the public toward Judaism.

The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, according to Jewish law, designates men an active role, and designates women a very passive role - one of consent and silence. The man places the ring on the woman's finger, he "sanctifies" her as his own, and only his obligations are outlined in the Jewish marriage contract. In recent years, opportunities for egalitarian weddings have increased in Israel; and in honor of the Jewish holiday of love (Tu b'Av), Hiddush explored the level of public demand for them.

Unfortunately, due to the intransigent ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate's monopoly over Jewish marriage and divorce, egalitarian Jewish weddings are not recognized by the State of Israel, unless citizens get married outside of Israel. Even then, married couples who wish to divorce may only do so via the official Israeli Rabbinate in non-egalitarian, Orthodox ceremonies. Israel is the only Western democracy that denies its citizens the right to marry as best befits their beliefs, values and lifestyles, as evidenced by Hiddush's international marriage map, which provides a comparative analysis of marriage restrictions in some 200 countries around the world. [see:]

The obvious solution is to demand that the civil political parties pass a law, legalizing civil marriage and divorce. Unfortunately, the current Government has set new records for submissiveness to the ultra-Orthodox parties' political blackmail and coercion; and the opposition parties have been making great efforts to remain in the ultra-Orthodox parties' good graces. Until the Rabbinate's monopoly is finally done away with, citizens must vote, and continue to get married in independent, egalitarian Jewish ceremonies, which aren't yet recognized by the State.

The question was worded as follows: "If you or one of your children wanted to get married - to what degree would you be in support of or opposed to a wedding ceremony that is gender egalitarian, for example: a mutual exchanging of rings and a Jewish wedding contract, which includes equal obligations for both spouses?" It is important to note that the survey did not examine theoretical support, but rather personal preferences, related to the respondents and their families. Further, the survey did not mention the legal question of doing away with religious ceremonies or instituting civil marriage, but rather whether the respondents would or would not prefer egalitarian versions of commonly accepted Jewish wedding customs.
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As noted, 74% of Israeli Jews, three out of four, would be interested in having egalitarian wedding ceremonies for themselves or their children. As expected, there was a difference in responses between men and women. 78% of women and 70% of men favored egalitarian wedding ceremonies. Among left leaning voters, 100% preferred egalitarian ceremonies, as did 94% of centrist voters. Only 58% of right leaning voters favored having egalitarian wedding ceremonies, for most Zionist Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox voters are right leaning. Among immigrants from the former Soviet Union 83% favored the idea, compared with 73% of native Israelis. This is likely due to the relatively low number of Orthodox Jews among the immigrant population. 87% of voters for the opposition parties preferred egalitarian wedding ceremonies, as did 77% of voters for the non-religious Coalition parties. However, 61% of voters for the ultra-Orthodox and Zionist Orthodox political parties were opposed.

This survey was conducted by the Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel ahead of Tu b'Av, the Jewish holiday of love. The survey was conducted by telephone on July 25-27 among a representative sample of 700 people from the adult Jewish Israeli population. It was conducted with generous support from IREP - the Israel Religious Expression Platform. A recent Hiddush survey, also sponsored by IREP, found that 71% of Israeli Jews attach great importance to the issue of marriage freedom, and 60% of the Jewish Israeli public supports the involvement of American Jewish organizations in advancing marriage freedom in Israel. [Click HERE for more]

+ International

Update from Netzer Sydney

Last week in Netzer Sydney Jess H. organised for the community to bring all their spare foods for the Asylum Seekers Centre, who’s food bank is currently running low!

It was a really big success and we had a huge amount of donations from the whole community!!!

We thought you would be interested in this amazing day that Jess organised as the Rosh Chinuch in Sydney, and especially because of the tikkun topic for this year.

Here are some pictures from the day.
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Israeli Arabs in Abu Ghosh celebrate relative's gold medal By Yori Yalon
Villagers proud of native son Ahmad Abughaush's achievement, which also brought Jordan its first Olympic medal • Restaurateur Jawdat Ibrahim: I felt like Israel had won. We plan to invite Ahmad to meet Israeli athletes, all in the name of coexistence.
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Ahmad Abughaush flies the Jordanian flag after winning the gold (Photo credit: GettyImages)

+ 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

Short and sweet hello from your kids J -

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, 

Lior and the Netzer staff



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