[Blog] Empowering Progressive Jewish youth worldwide

Hannah Stephenson
7 February 2017

This year I travelled to Israel for Netzer Veidah, along with LJY-Netzer movement worker and my long-time best friend Hannah. Netzer Veidah is a space for 14 sniffim (branches) from around the globe to come together and discuss the next steps for the worldwide Progressive youth movement.

At the beginning of the programme, Netzer Australia ran some ‘get to know you’ games before an incredible opening ceremony and a very sad goodbye to our Netzer Mazkir (director) of 20 years, Maoz.

The next day each country made a presentation about their camps and how they are part of an internal and wider community, as the theme of this year’s Veidah was “united through connections”.

Our LJY-Netzer presentation focused on the community we create through our camps and with our bogrimot, which strives to be inclusive to all, focusing on the work we do to educate on mental health, gender and sexuality and feminism.

We also brought forward a motion to reaffirm Netzer’s worldwide commitment to feminism. The discussion had around this motion was mainly to do with using the word ‘feminism’ over gender equality, however since LJY aligns with the feminist movement we agreed that we need not be scared over using a word because it has negative connotations. Indeed the reason it has those connotations is why we should be using it.

We had a session with veteran LJY-Netzernik Anna Posner on how our Jewish communities differ from others, which included some text study leading to the question: ‘Can you be Jewish alone or do you need a community?’

For most of the people there, they found their Judaism in communities on camps and at other Netzer events, just as I do.

After a very wet walk to Kol HaNeshema we had a lovely Kabbalat Shabbat led by Noar Telem (the Israeli branch of Netzer), which focused on their community and the aspects they liked about it.

Although shacharit could not be held at the egalitarian section of The Kotel due to the weather, Netzer Barcelona ran a beautiful shacharit (photo above) that embodied community prayer with a twist, and saw us learning new songs, sharing tunes and connecting as a worldwide community.

Our next asepha (meeting) was highly anticipated. Last year it was decided that Veidah would be meat free and this year a motion was brought to make vegetarianism an option, and not obligatory, due to wanting education to be the motivator for decisions, not impositions.

Although everyone was heard, and it was acknowledged meat is a very big part of some people lives, the motion did not pass so Veidah will stay vegetarian.

Netzer Veidah was an insight into what Shnat Netzer should and could be; a programme of informal education, ideological debate and fun, with all the participants keen and motivated members of their sniffim (branches of Netzer). On returning to England I feel inspired to become more connected to our Netzer family and to continue the conversations that took place in Jerusalem within LJY-Netzer.

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