Dear Parents, Sniffim and Shnatties. Shalom Rav,
This was an intensive week, it was a week that my son decided it was about time to take his first steps without holding on to anyone or anything, it was a week where even though spring has arrived, the cold (well more chilly than cold) and rain still paid a visit.
This past Tuesday we had a long yom tnua, Guy took our shnatties to Tel Aviv for an amazing siur about social differences. This Thursday our lovely British shnatties will be having there third and last Keshet seminar, our lovely South African shnnaties will have a day in Rannana with the TELFELD organization and we will be getting ready for our last week before our Pessach chofesh.
I want to invite you to follow us on facebook
I wish you a great weekend and a Shabbat Shalom.
Weekly report by Abby M. (Machon)
Well it is late on a Monday night, yet it appears it is already time for me to write about the ‘Machonikim’s’ week; alas, it has only been a few sunny days since you last heard from us. So, forgive me if this account lacks content, but I will do my best to entertain and inform.
This past week has been the standard, yet ever-interesting, Machon Netzer week. In order to fully convey what this may mean, I shall try to illustrate it through the medium of one thing that happened to each of us this week. As, truthfully, I am not sure what else to say (many of us were away this weekend, and we have only had two days of Machon). Here I go…
In alphabetical order…
Abby was presented with her first ever personally hand-knitted scarf today. It was special, and she will treasure the beautiful cream accessory forever. Thank you, Becca.
Ariel discovered the little boy still left in him. He was playing the computer game, ‘counter-strikes’ until the early hours of Saturday morning. He tells me now from underneath the bunk, “it’s still amazing.”
Becca is a different person this evening, to how she was Wednesday evening. No longer is the light brown hair, instead when you see her you see a dark brunette. We all concur that it looks fab.
Ben’s mother and brother were in town this weekend! As well as having a wonderful weekend, Ben also asks that I honour his victorious performance at snooker. He successfully beat poor Gideon 7-1. Commiserations, Giddy.
Benji took a trip to Ein Kerem this weekend, alongwith Ruthie and Dan Aron and Alyson from Etgar. They say it’s a beautiful area, a place worth visiting.
Jade received a not-so-ordinary letter today, much to her joy. It turns out her friend’s workplace is short on paper, but has surplus blue and orange post-it notes. Her letter was in many pieces.
Jess spent the weekend back on Lotan, but also preparing for the festivities of Jake’s Barmitzvah which we are all getting very excited about. Her legs are freshly waxed, her hair styled, and she has her make-up sorted.
Jordy was taken ill, briefly. She suffered from the infectious Conjunctivitis for one day. She soon recovered.
Lily had a very adventurous weekend. I am not sure on the details, but I know it involved a spontaneous camping trip and a number of Israeli cities.
Naomi has run out of shampoo. The shampoos of the room next door is struggling.
Noa, along with the many many South Americans (and Ariel) we share our home with, encountered an ex-terrorist. The concept sounds fascinating.
Ruthie nearly died. No, I’m so sorry. She didn’t at all. What I am trying to say is that she is well once more! We were all thrilled to see her back on her feet; now we can finally celebrate her birthday!
Shoshana has moved on to her next book. Having thoroughly enjoyed ‘Women in Judaism’, she has begun ‘Faith and Practice.’ Good on her.
Sophie, a Uke-ist, was surprised to learn that the song, ‘The Lime in the Cocunut’ is made up of just one chord.
Tara, after copious phonecalls, emails, money exchanges, got the package we had so long been waiting for. We are all very pleased, it really caused a lot of hassle over the last 3 weeks.
So that is our week pretty much. I just want to quickly mention this evening. I have just come from a session which Colin, the head of Machon, put on especially for us Machon Netzer. We are trying to understand our ideology, Reform Zionism, and where they each come from. It was a very intense couple of hours, the ice cream making it marginally easier, and we all came out with far more questions than we had before we went in. But as Colin wisely assured us, if we are not more confused about what we believe after all the discussions we have on Machon, then they are doing something wrong.
Tomorrow we head to Tel Aviv for a Social Gap project. I wish I could tell you about it, but it hasn’t happened yet. Tune in next week to find out…
Weekly report by Rebekkah K. (Etgar)
The Shnattim started the week off right with Yom Afooch (Backwards day). Our lovely Rosh Shavuah Tzevet, Rebekkah and Naomi, got up in the early hours of the day to put clothes on backwards and cook everyone dinner. After the challenge of getting the masses up and ready earlier than normal, we all enjoyed a dinner of couscous, corn, pickles, and schnitzel at 8am. Asefah was then held, and it was noticeably quieter due to the absence of any and all mechanical toy noisemakers. We then had Hebrew, which was enlightening and educational.
A hadracha lesson with Guy and Noa left us all wondering with intelligence(s) we had. More asefah happened, and then we headed down for Tanak, but little did they know there was a surprise waiting for them…
Surprise! Our Tanak teacher was sick, so our beautiful Rosh Week Ladies had something in store: A scavenger hunt! Naomi and Rebekkah sent two groups out into the wilds of Jerusalem to complete twenty tasks, which my group successfully accomplished (the other group did not). If I remember, I’ll attach pictures from this adventure. We had to do things like tune-in around a light pole, get a shoe, pick up trash in the Old City, sing the Netzer song, and run an obstacle course, among others. Both groups had a really good time running around Jerusalem, and then met up in Talpiyot (one group taking taxis, the other a bus). The plan was to meet at the mall in Talpiyot, but there are four malls in Talpiyot. A half an hour of chaos ensued, with three different groups of people running around the entirety of Talpiyot trying to find the right mall and each other. Eventually we met up at Burger’s Bar and shared a nice meal together. We then traveled across the street to the mall, where Naomi and Rebekkah had a surprise for the group: Bowling!!! Two elevators took the Shnattim up a floor (well, one group went to every single floor below, and then up to bowling). We bowled. The very first ball rolled (mine) was a strike, jussayin’. Naomi was fun to watch, with her right arm in a cast. After a plethora of strikes, spares, and gutter balls, Dan R came out on top, with Josh following a close second, and Dan A and I in third and fourth. Ice cream and racecar games were played after, and then we started the journey home. It started off badly, with someone (definitely not me) accidentally bumping into a parked car and setting off the car alarm. While one group took a taxi, the others took a bus and got off at the right stop. Beit Shmuel was right around the corner, guys, according to Dan R. Wait, just kidding, it was actually really far away. Oh well. We eventually made it home, Emily made us all coffee, and five or six laptops popped open.
I sit here in the Internet Couch, gross plastic sticking to my legs and arm, next to Jake. Jake isn’t really doing anything, just watching Dan R, who is on the other side of him, surf the web. Alyson is on the Comfy Chair. She’s skyping, getting the ‘dish’ from her connections back home. Naomi sits on the couch, sucking her thumb, rolling her wrist, making cracking noises that make Alyson squirm. Was she supposed to take her cast off already? Probably not. But we all trust her to handle her own breaks by this point. Dan A sits on the Purple Couch making comments to aggravate and infuriate Alyson and humor everyone else. Liz has gone off to bed, and who knows where Kitty went. We usually never know where Kitty has gone. Josh is suspected to be in the toilet right now, but no one is really sure. Jeff and Jemma are off being treated to nicer things than our measly gap year wallets can buy.
Monday (formerly known as Sprite Day)
Monday Monday, what a day. It all began with a lesson on history. Well, kind of. I woke up in the dojo, having fallen asleep in the company of Dan A, Kitty, Jake, and Jeff, alone. A moment of confusion, and then I was on with my day. The few steps it took to get to the kitchen enlightened me as to why my friends stole off to their beds in the middle of the night: the dojo is really uncomfortable to sleep in; I was so sore. After a big cup of coffee and a refreshing shower, I began to detect the stirrings of my other flat mates waking up to the morning. Dan A first, like always, then a special guest, Jess. The rest woke up about five minutes before class at nine, which was unfortunate because we were all wrong: class was at 8:30. We learned, we learned, and then we learned some more. A break that was fifteen minutes long took about twenty-five minutes, and then we ventured out to the park. The Shanttim became NASA (USA ftw!) and figured out how to survive on the moon. We went back to class and learnt some more, and then I had my peer-led peula on Controversy within Netzer ideology. We had a debate about whether or not Hebrew is necessary in true debate form, and then discussed how we treat the importance (or lack thereof) and how it relates to how we teach our chanichim. I think it was the most amazing peula in the world and everybody learned so much, but maybe I think that because it was my peula. Anyway, when we got back to the flat and every single one of us walked into the kitchen to prepare and consume our fifth meal of the day so far, people were still talking about the topic and debating it, which I take as a sign of success. We ate, and then kept eating when Noa came over. We all got on the Netzer bus (plastic chairs set up in our living room) with Dan R as driver. He got to pretend to know how to drive and we were all subject to his crazy whims. Noa took us on a Powerpoint tour of Israel and all the wonderful possibilities for Pesach, like dancing the Horah, creating a play, watching Jake swim down the hall and swimming straight into a door, and playing Sardines. When Noa left, Naomi and Rebekkah (the most beautiful, wonderful, lovely, smart, awesome, amazing, nice, fair, and enlightening Rosh Week Tzevet of all time) went with her to have secret behind-the-scenes conversations. Later, Dan A and Kitty joined us to discuss Tiyul Tzafon (northern trip), but first we made delicious coffee in bowl mugs. We then discussed how much we loved the bowl mugs. Tiyul Tzafon will be an amazing week of SURPRISE!!! I cant tell you yet, but rest assured that it will be worth the wait. Maybe, jokes: most definitely, there will be a t-shirt. Maybe one for each day. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get Sprite Day t-shirts and all the seven other t-shirts we have planned oswoll.
The best part of the day, however, has just ended: dinner time. Liz and Dan R cooked about forty hot dogs for about five people and a ton of fries (NOT chips). As I sit here, there is still a big bowl mostly full of vege noknikiyot and an empty oily bowl were the fries once were. And don’t tell Jeff, but we’re drinking Coca Cola. Jake was the first to break Shomer Yom Sprite; he bought a Coca Cola and brought it to the park with us. And after we got our groceries delivered to us (yes, we’re that lazy, we do our shopping online and get it delivered to our doorstep), we realized we didn’t have any Sprite, just Coca Cola. So seriously, don’t tell Jeff.
After we finished eating, we sat around eating more fries and talking. What did we talk about? Well, I can’t tell you that. But I can tell you that it was fun, disgusting, wonderful, and made us all laugh way too much for the amount of actual humor there was.
We have a few new additions to the flat:
· - The Rota/Roster: Kitty and I spent a good half an hour making up problems with it to fix. It’s now perfect.
· - The Fun room poster, it’s beautiful
· - Etgar Quote Wall: it is a wall of quotes from Etgar, but you probably figured that out.
· - We moved the couches, and it doesn’t look like anyone wants to move them back, despite a couch blocking the entire hallway and a chair blocking to door to the Fun Room.
The wonderful life of… Kitty and Rebekkah!!! (black is Rebekkah, green is Kitty)
The best part about writing the weekly report is that I get to choose what gets said. And we can mention each other as many times as humanly possible. From this point on, you’ll be counting the amount of times were mentioned or have written the actual report ourselves. For example, I was gone last week on a Masa Building Future Leaders Conference, and I was in the flat and thus wasn’t mentioned in the weekly report (to read about what happened there, check out my blog: http://bekkah-netzer.blogspot.com/). This week, however, I think that the following insertion written by Kitty and I should be said, and thus here it is:
Sour Patch Kids and their implications on the lives of youth
To start off this article, we’ll begin by stating the 3 things we would do for Sour Patch Kids (this is a very hot topic in the Etgar Flat currently)
· - Trade my precious Skittles
· - Debate with Jeff
· - Walk anywhere near the boy’s bathroom after it’s been recently used
· Lick peanut butter off someone’s big toe
· Give Jake a piggyback to class down two flights of stairs to class 117.
As you can see, Rebekkah’s list contains much more perilous things than Kitty’s does. Why is this? Maybe it’s because Rebekkah grew up eating SPKs and thus holds much higher value to them. She’d be willing to do much more for the taste of those delicious candies again. Kitty, however, does not even know what she is missing. Having had someone try and bribe me with this means, I have become increasingly more interested in the supposedly delicious taste Rebekkah claims they have. Which position is better? To know and enjoy a luxury item and then have it taken away and dangled in front of you, or to never know and thus be indifferent to the dangling? To have loved and have lost, or never have loved at all? Rebekkah pities poor Kitty, for she has never had the experience of tasting SPKs. Kitty seems to think Rebekkah is a little desperate and weird, bargaining all of this for a candy. Its really just sweets, I’m sure I can live without it, having lived a pretty average life without them thus far. As much as Rebekkah attempts to persuade Kitty, she just doesn’t get it. And Rebekkah is becoming more frustrated; trying to describe something she thinks is so indescribably wonderful.
(Cue here: un-PC jokes about the situation when you think about it from the American kid versus the African kid perspective)
After some conversation about this topic, we have come to one conclusion: it is favorable to experience as much of life as possible. Eat SPKs, go to Zorba, try shwarma, run an obstacle course in the Old City, live in a flat with eleven young Jews, go to Israel, go to China, go to India, ride a camel, meet an Israeli soldier, play loads of Jewish Geography, go to university, study something interesting yet completely irrelevant to your future, or wear a crazy hat. We do these on an almost daily basis, so we’re pretty much experts me thinks. Try it all, do it all. What is life if you don’t experience it? You grow up, follow societal expectations, and are nothing but a product of society. However, if you grow up your own way and have your own adventures and try as much as you possibly can, then you are the product of your life. To experience is to live, and to shelter your self away from the delicacies of the world (both culinary and not) is to essentially waste this one opportunity we are all given in this world.
I think I just figured out the Meaning of Life. I, kitty, have not yet reached the point of being able to relate the meaning of life to the wanting of SPK. Maybe I should try them? But then I’ll have to do one of those things that I said before that I would do for a SPK and I don’t really want to because its really late at night and summer just doesn’t happen in Jerusalem.
EXCEPT (yes, chevre, there is always an ‘except’), what happens when you develop an attachment to something and then are no longer allowed it? A country you’ve fallen in love with and then have to leave? A food you can only have when in one region of the world? A view that can only be seen from one spot, one singular spot in the entirety of the huge planet we live on? A person you have to leave, or who leaves you? Or, for those of us who live in a different hemisphere and don’t know what daylight savings is, it might be people that have changed your life, and only having a limited time to talk to them. To be with them, to soak up every possible morsel of their being. Having a limited time frame for friendships in an environment like that of shnat is probably one of its biggest downfalls. I can’t imagine a shnat without the Northerners, and all too soon, I know that this will be a reality, and that I will spend the rest of my young adult life trying to reconnect with these people but knowing that we might not ever be a platform for that kind of relationship. I’ve just reached that stage of existential crisis and am now wondering why I spent the last four hours in the flat making signs and sticking them on the walls, instead of living. I could have been exploring Judaism in one of the holiest places on earth! But I wasn’t. I was here. You were there. And we were listening to Beatles songs and wondering why Josh had to poop so many times today.
Is it worth it? The pain and that sharp feeling of loss that comes from having something taken away from you, or even worse: having to leave something. Is it worth having had it at all? On one hand, the period spent grieving may outweigh the joy the thing brought you. In its most extreme form, grieving may never end, and it has the potential to destroy lives. One the other hand, the joy can outweigh the grief and feeling of loss. If anything, we can take in and realize that in our most depressive states, there is something we miss that touched us so deeply that we feel that way. Something touched us and gave us such joy and happiness or something that it was able to make so much of an impact on us. Its people and places and things and times that make us realize just how precious each and every Sour Patch Kid is and how we should taste and savor the deliciousness in every minute. Yes, we are grieving and yes we are sad and yes we have a catch in our throat and a pang in our chest, but the knowledge that something was so detrimental to us in such a positive way can carry us through. Using memory, it might even help to dwell on that pain. There are a lot of reasons people say pain is good: it makes us stronger, it means we’re healthy enough to detect it, etc. Another reason could be: Pain is good because it means that we were once healthy, happy, whole. In this moment, with Dan making tea out of boredom and looking around at all the new signs depicting rules and regulations or even just the laundry roster, I’ll know that once there was a real purpose from nothing, from boredom and that pro-activism, in any sense would make the world a more colorful place where rosters are fun and everyone knows when they can do laundry. Yes, my arm is broken, but that means I had such a long time with full use of my arm, I could do so much with that arm? Remember all those baskets I dunked, all those poems I wrote, all those hugs I gave… Yes, I’m now sad that I am moving away from a close friend. But I’m sad because that friend made me so happy, and I’m lucky to have had such a good friendship. I miss friends. Yes, I miss SPKs, but I am so lucky to be privileged enough to live in a society that gives me such luxuries, so lucky to have experienced such a tasty treat, so lucky to be fed and happy enough to have frivolous things like SPKs in my life, so happy that I have nice little things in my life to miss and look forward to.
So although the pain of leaving might be hard, it is worth it. It is always worth it. Every bad thing, every pain means we were once happy. That we’ve grown and that we’ll continue to grow on this extensive journey called life.
Yes, Kitty doesn’t miss Sour Patch Kids, and doesn’t have the frustration and longing that Rebekkah now feels. But she has never known this little luxury, has never had that experience. Maybe Kitty feels more content with her life right now, but Rebekkah really has had more: more experience, more life (in this specific example of SPKs, not in general side-by-side comparison of our lives). Content is an over statement, I don’t think one will ever be content. It’s human nature to want more, to be more, to love more (whatever that may mean to you) but one will never truly sit and look at ones life and say that they’re done. That, this is what they have done and that they’ll want to stop. No one should want to stop and that’s the beauty of happiness. More. Ah, the wonderful world of existentialisms. The solution to our problem, and maybe all problems ever:
Jeff needs to share his damn Sour Patch Kids.
Tuesday, March 27th
Loneliness, quiet, and solitude were the thoughts going through my mind last night. Alyson was in Tel Aviv with her dad and Naomi and Emily were in the guest room, so I was all-alone in the room. I don’t have loud roommates, but their presence is definitely something I have been taking for granted. I finally fell asleep.
My infamous alarm woke me up at 8:00am, and then I went back to sleep. I woke up again at 8:30am and got out of bed. I went to the bathroom and put on my face, and then went to my room to clothe myself. I realized I had no idea what the day was going to be like, so I checked the weather in Tel Aviv via the Internet. I learned that it was going to be too-freaking-cold, and raining, so I dressed appropriately, as did the rest of Etgar. I did the normal things, like brush my hair and put on deodorant, and then I went downstairs. The whole group met in the lobby and waited for the bus there. Emily and I made a bet: she thought it would take one hour for Jeff to notice I was wearing his shirt, I thought it would take three and a half hours. When we all boarded the bus, we were greeted by Machon and were off to Tel Aviv. Eventually, after a nap that was definitely not long enough, we arrived in Tel Aviv. One thing I can say with complete confidence about our group is that we definitely retain our childlike sense of play: our first stop was a playground, where we went crazy on the swings and slides. Much to our disappointment, we had to stop playing. Our guide for the day taught us a new game, one which we all enjoyed. It was educational, too: Kitty told us all about the new American states: Canada and Cincinatti. When we actually started to learn real facts, we learned about Tel Aviv and how it was formed and how it all relates to the idea of Zionism. We walked through the park and into a neighborhood. We saw a dog and a lot of donkeys. Like, real donkeys (well, you could argue that they were mules, there was a debate). We walked some more and saw a school that had afterschool and extra curricular activities run by a religious political party, Shos. From there, we headed to a neighborhood that had been superficially renovated by one political party when they had the majority of the government. We discussed how to change a deprived area into a thriving one. The next place we visited was an area just next to the Central Bus Station (the biggest bus station in the world, we learned) that was the main HQ, you could say, for all the foreign workers in Tel Aviv; it, too, was a depraved area. While we were talking about the situation the workers were in, how the world’s governments deal with it, and what should be changed, I watched a plastic bag being carried up by the wind, across a vacant lot, and into a tree in someone’s yard. The whole vacant lot we were in looked like something you would imagine in a third world country. A dirt lot with a carpet made of trash, and chickens picking their way through it all to find a good meal. Destination ba’a was a park. But not just any park. This park was home to countless amounts of people. These were not foreign workers; these were the immigrants and refugees. Although not many of them will receive official refugee status from the government, they are all here, some after a desperate and life-threatening journey. They are illegal, but have a better life here than anywhere else. We were talking about some ideas of plans to carry out so that these people wouldn’t have to live in this park, when a man walked by our group. He seemed under the influence of something, he was slurring for sure. The man was black and stumbling, as well. We started yelling to us, trying to talk or start a dialogue it seemed. Guy tried to talk to him away from the group so we could continue our discussion, but he came back and was yelling this time. It was all in Hebrew, but we didn’t need words to detect the animosity in his message. After a while he walked on, and we talked on. Another occurrence of note from that park was when someone asked what all the bags and sleeping bags were for, like was another youth group here or something? But no, those belonged to the people standing and sitting around the park, alone or in small groups. And we were sitting in their bedroom and in their living room. It was a surreal experience but we had to move on. The next place we went to was a shuk for lunch. We all got pizzur and were sent off. I really wanted falafel, so we walked through the shuk trying to find falafel, but alas, there was none. So we walked out to the main road and down the street until we found a suitable falafel place. We were considering one place when the workers came out and told us ‘yesh makom lkulam bifnim,’ and I used my ever-increasing Hebrew skills to alert the rest of the group that there was space in side for us all, and we went in. They told us to sit down and relax, and then brought us out salad, six falafels, fried potato crisp type things, and a bottle of diet Coke. Our meal was practically catered: all the food for the most cheap!
We visited Rothschild Boulevard next, after a quick ice cream stop. Emily and I made a pact to always tell each other if we have food on our face or other embarrassing things like that, and I am now much more comfortable in life knowing Emily is looking out for me. We saw where the first tents that started the tent cities were, and then we did a very Netzer-y thing: we made a Big Circle With Everybody In It in the middle of a public place. We read resources and talked for a while, but then we headed inside this very cool building. As we walked up a story, we saw that the walls were covered in graffiti and posters and slogans. A man met with us to talk about the tent city protests and social justice. While the conversation was very enlightening and gave us all much more knowledge and many more ideas, the one unifying thing that happened was a movement that caused every left leg to rest on top of our neighbor’s right leg. Don’t ask me why. Another highlight was the meal of pizza that followed the discussion. Of all the Yom Tnuot pizzas, I think this was the best.
Just before the pizza, however, Ben led us in a discussion about social justice and what should we do about it. We talked for a while, and then came up with real concrete ideas that will not only make a tangible impact, but might actually happen. Some of us are researching some ideas to determine the feasibility of our ideas and are going to put them into action at the next Yom Tnua. We are all pretty excited for this to happen, and are equally (if not more) excited that the twenty-five of us managed to have a civil and productive conversation that happened without yelling or interruption on a mass scale.
The bus ride on the way back to Jerusalem was full of songs (Disney, rap, and everything in between) and girl talks. The back of the bus ran the song sesh, but up at the front we girls chatted it up the whole way.
When I asked Dan R is he could have anything in the world right now, he replied with this little nugget of wisdom: ‘I’m pretty happy right now.’
I know I can’t speak for all of Etgar (despite that being the exact point of the weekly report), but the general feeling is that of happiness.
I’m sitting in the Comfy Chair sideways, which is rather uncomfortable, but from here I can see Liz on the couch, Jeff with his huge red headphones and business to do, Dan making friends with Alyson’s dad (Dan is the most friendly to strangers), and Alyson and her dad, reunited for the first time since she flew away almost six months ago. Kitty and her skype friend on a tour of the flat, and Emily having a computer crisis. Dan A coming in to say something odd and then leave, and Jemma running around looking confused. Josh and Naomi are in the bathrooms, his second time and her first today according to the Poo Log. I’m not sure where Jake is, but you can almost always find him in the kitchen or the dojo or the balcony.
The week’s not over, but we’ve had a grand ol’ time so far.