Weekly update by Miranda Robshaw
We all knew that someday this final report of Shnat would have to be written, have to be typed up, have to be sent to Lior and in turn the recipients of this newsletter. But somehow, we didn’t really believe it ever would. Back in October, eight months seemed like a lifetime. Now, sitting in a bedroom on Lotan writing this, it’s too easy to believe the whole thing never happened at all. We might have longer hair, more piercings and look less tidy, but there is really no significant change to our appearance. You might only realise the intensity of the time that has passed if you had a conversation with one of us. We are all infinitely more mature, and a sense of calm prevails over the group that was absent before.
This could be because as a group, we have experienced some of our highest highs and lowest lows. We have been to Karmiel and Jerusalem, lived together, cooked together, sung together, travelled together, danced together and learnt together. These kind of experiences must have had an impact upon our group dynamics and the difference in atmosphere is almost tangible.
Over the course of this year, we have met many interesting people – the esteemed Michael Livni, founder of the political philosophy Reform Zionism; Mike Nitzan, founder of the Netzer kibbutz; Danny Freelander, President of the World Union of Progressive Judaism; and Anat Hoffman, founder of Women of the Wall, as well as many others. The interaction we had with Anat Hoffman a few months ago was particularly memorable – a quote that had a strong impact on all of us was “there is a lot of untapped nuisance in this room”, a remark that sits with many of us today. Indeed, one southerner friend of ours described the lecture as having given her ’emotions she had never felt in her entire life’! High praise if there ever was any.
We have learnt a huge amount about Progressive Judaism and how it relates to our lives, and I know that from a personal point of view, I have learnt how to express my Progressive Jewish identity in a meaningful way – through Jewish music, Jewish celebrations, and marking Shabbat with Kabbalat Shabbat services (which have held a special place in our group this year). I believe this is true for the whole group.
Shnat has also offered us the opportunity to explore Zionism and how it fits in with our beliefs. I now say with confidence that most of us are 80% sure what Zionism is.
I can also say with 100% certainty that wherever we choose to live in the future, Beit Shmuel Jerusalem is a place we can always call a home.
This year has been highly formative for us all, and, to tentatively repeat the cliché, the best year of our lives.
This is Miranda Robshaw, with the last weekly report of Ma’ayan North.