Issue #367

Issue #367 – 1 October 2009 / 13 Tishre 5770

The leadership and staff of the World Union for Progressive Judaism wish you and yours a joyous Sukkot holiday!



IN THIS SPECIAL ISSUE
:

NETZER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HAILS RECORD SUMMER

FSU SUMMER CAMPS EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS DESPITE BUDGET CUTS

BANNER SUMMER FOR BRITISH REFORM YOUTH MOVEMENT

CLOSE TO A HUNDRED PROGRESSIVE GERMAN YOUTH ATTEND SUMMER CAMP

BARCELONA CONGREGATION HOLDS SUMMER CAMP FOR YOUNGSTERS

ADDITIONAL NETZER SUMMER CAMPS AND ACTIVITIES

UPCOMING EVENTS



NETZER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HAILS RECORD SUMMER

Netzer Olami, the World Union’s international Zionist youth movement, held a wide variety of summer camps and other seasonal programs in recent months. According to executive director Maoz Haviv, who also heads TaMaR Olami, the worldwide movement of Progressive young adults, the season was a “true celebration of the unique global success of Netzer” and came as the movement celebrated its 30th birthday.

“It was a true testament to the wonderful work being done by our sniffim [branches] and in our headquarters in Jerusalem,” Haviv said, “with pre-teens, teenagers, young adults and devoted staff members coming together everywhere to offer quality educational and cultural programming in Israel and worldwide. Netzer Olami will continue to provide our youth with an ideological home, and our global movement with future leaders."


Maoz Haviv


Back to In This Issue



The following reports represent just a handful of Netzer Olami’s recent activities.


FSU SUMMER CAMPS EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS DESPITE BUDGET CUTS

Close to 1,000 youngsters and young adults in the former Soviet Union took part of 13 summer camps held in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia despite initial fears that major financial cutbacks might even cancel the program for 2009. The camps were supervised by the leadership and staff of the local branches of Netzer Olami, the World Union’s international Zionist youth movement.

“These camps enabled children, youth, students and families to strengthen their Jewish identity and return to their traditional and religious roots,” says Alex Kagan, who oversees FSU programs and operations for the World Union. “Nothing is more important, as these people represent the hopes and future of Progressive Judaism in the FSU.”

According to Rita Fruman, FSU coordinator for Netzer Olami, the World Union’s international Progressive Zionist youth movement, the summer camps provide “some of the only time in which our youth in FSU can immerse themselves for one week in Jewish life. When I visit these camps, I see the enthusiasm of the participants, the hunger in their eyes and the desire to learn more.”

The camps, consisting of both sleep-away and day camp programs, were led by the World Union’s six resident FSU rabbis, as well as by Netzer professionals and Progressive rabbis and educators from Israel and elsewhere. They catered to various age groups, ranging from pre-teens through teens and up to university students and young adults.

One of the camps for teens included a special guest: Rachel Gershon of Chicago, who is active in the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) and traveled to Kiev just to participate in the camp. Another, in Minsk, focused on Netzer Olami’s 30th birthday, while the final camp, held for counselors at the conclusion of the camp season, was a “camp on wheels” that traveled from Poland to the Crimean Peninsula and on to Uman (burial place of the legendary Chasidic figure Rabbi Nachman of Breslav) and Kiev, taking in all the sites relevant to Jews and Jewish history.

Three of the camps were for young families. One, held in Lipetsk, Russia, was for Jewish, Armenian and Azerbaijani families and, according to Progressive congregation chairwoman Olga Zamatina, “was aimed at finding common ground and building friendships and long-lasting relationships.” The other, held in Moscow, was for families having children with special needs.

“One of the principal ideologies of the World Union is tikkun olam [repairing the world],” says Kagan, “and the example that comes to mind when I speak of practical implementation is this camp. It makes our community and children better and more patient people, more caring and sensitive, and I am very proud that our movement is actively pursuing this path.”


Photos from some of the 13 summer camps held this year in the FSU.


Back to In This Issue



BANNER SUMMER FOR BRITISH REFORM YOUTH MOVEMENT

RSY-Netzer, the youth group of Britain’s Movement for Reform Judaism, held what’s being described as its “most successful summer to date,” with more than 700 youngsters aged 10-18 having participated in its four Shemesh summer camps and its annual summer Israel Tour.

“It has been an amazing summer of activities,” said Daniel Lichman, RSY-Netzer’s mazkir, or general secretary. “We are delighted that we have been able to involve so many young people in a Jewish experience which will stay with them forever. People have made friends for life and learned more about what it means to be Jewish.”

Recent economic difficulties meant a 45% increase in requests for financial assistance. To meet this demand, and also to help fund regular yearly youth programming, the movement launched a special appeal in June, which raised £15,000, with 83 young people benefiting from financial assistance during this year’s summer activities.

According to movement chairman Stephen Moss,  "the Reform Movement, together with Reform synagogues and the UJIA, have been able to give a contribution to every applicant to ensure that no child missed out on the opportunity of going on Shemesh or Israel Tour due to lack of funds. We consider these experiences to be a key part of strengthening our children's Jewish identity and Jewish education. This is our next generation of youth leaders and community leaders of the future. We must invest in them now."


Back to In This Issue



CLOSE TO A HUNDRED PROGRESSIVE GERMAN YOUTH ATTEND SUMMER CAMP

Jung und Jüdisch (Young and Jewish) Junior, the German branch of Netzer Olami, held a two-week summer camp for 90 youngsters aged 8-18 from throughout the country, as well as from Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Israel and the US. The camp was held in southwest Germany, near the city of Trier. The staff of 20 was led by Gali Reich, youth director of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany (UPJ) and Israeli shlicha (emissary) Sivan Gaides, with assistance from Hanna Brada, from the reform Netzer movement in Britain, RSY-Netzer.

The theme of the camp was 100 Years of Tel Aviv, and several of the main activities touched on various aspects of the city and its centennial. Most of the daily activities were held outdoors and included hikes, swimming in a natural pool and a visit to a water park. Each evening there was a special program, with campers performing in a special musical on the final night. There was also a special tour of Trier, considered the oldest city in Germany.

Shabbat was celebrated twice, with campers and counselors leading services and baking challot. There were special study sessions on the parashat hashavua (weekly portion), as well as on Jewish holidays and the symbols and ceremonies of Judaism. A special arts and crafts session was dedicated to making a tallit (prayer shawl) to mark the 30th anniversary of Netzer Olami.

“The machane [camp] was fantastic,” said Reich. “There were several terrific programs connected with the theme of Tel Aviv’s centennial, and we had lots of interesting and fun activities. The madrichim [counselors] worked very hard and also learned a lot about their role as responsible young adults. We explored our identity as Jews and human beings, and got to think about our role in the world and what we believe in. Through it all, we made lasting friendships. We look forward to the next time we all can meet.”


Scenes from the 2009 Jung und Jüdisch Junior summer camp.


Back to In This Issue



BARCELONA CONGREGATION HOLDS SUMMER CAMP FOR YOUNGSTERS

Some 90 children and teens aged 4-16 from Communitat Jueva ATID de Castanyer, the World Union affiliate in Barcelona, took part in a two-week Netzer summer camp at a retreat center in Castellar de N’Hug, about three hours outside the city. They were led by 20 counselors, all trained by Netzer Olami.

The programming included typical summer camp activities, such as swimming, hiking, sports and arts and crafts. There were also prayer services and study sessions on various aspects of Judaism, with a focus on tikkun olam, the responsibility of each Jews to repair the world.

“In the eight years since the first Spanish-speaking madrich (youth leader) returned from Shnat Netzer, the Netzer year program in Israel, the youth group has become the center of activity in ATID,” said Yuval Nemirovsky, Netzer’s coordinator for Spain and Latin America. “I had the chance to speak with the madrichim and the kids, and each one was grateful and proud to be part of the movement.


A group shot from this year’s summer camp at Castellar, near Barcelona.


Back to In This Issue



ADDITIONAL NETZER SUMMER CAMPS AND ACTIVITIES

Summer camps were held by other regional branches of Netzer Olami. For example, LJY-Netzer, the youth arm of Britain’s Liberal movement, held its Kadima camp for 200 youngsters, while Netzer-Panama ran a summer camp for 50 participants from that country and El Salvador. Noar Telem, the Netzer branch in Israel, held its annual Havaya summer camp for some 500 children and youth. In addition, the North American Federation of Temple Youth hosted thousands of youngsters at the 13 NFTY camps located around the continent.

Summer 2009 saw many World Union affiliates send groups on Israel Experience tours. Aside from the four from Britain’s RSY-Netzer mentioned in the item above, there were 15 NFTY groups from North America, a group from Britain’s Liberal movement, and for the first time a group from Netzer-France, accompanied by its shaliach, Yonatan Gozlan, and by Rabbi Celia Surgette.

Netzerfest, the annual day-long gathering of all Netzer members spending the year or summer in Israel, took place in mid-July. There were over 300 participants (most of the NFTY groups had already returned home before the British and French groups arrived), and it was prepared and led by 11 shnaties (year program participants) from Australia. The day proved very successful in building connections and instilling a sense of being part of a global movement.

Netzer groups also took part in a "mega event" for all teens on summer programs in Israel. It was organized by Lapid, the newly established coalition for high school-aged programs in Israel, in association with the Israel Experience, which specializes in organized trips to Israel for teens and young adults, and the Maccabi youth movement.


Shabbat at Noar Telem’s Morton and Beverley Rechler Family Foundation Havaya Camp at Kibbutz Shefayim in Israel.


Back to In This Issue



UPCOMING EVENTS

October 9-11, 2009 – Dedication of Moscow Center for Progressive Judaism

November 4-8, 2009 – Biennial of the Union for Reform Judaism, Toronto, Canada

January 28-31, 2010Union of Jewish Communities in Latin America Biennial, Panama

January 28-February 7, 2010 – Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leaders, Jerusalem

March 4-7, 2010European Region Biennial Conference, Paris, France

April 16-18, 2010Liberal Judaism Biennial Weekend, England

May 15-17, 2010 – Biennial of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism, Durban

May 28-29, 2010Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism Biennial, Israel

November 25-28, 2010 – Biennial conference of the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, Asia and New Zealand, Canberra, Australia

February 7-13, 2011 – CONNECTIONS 2011, USA




Back to In This Issue

Recent Issues