Etgar Weekly Update by Sophie Phillips and Sharon

It’s 10AM on the 2nd of June, meaning that we have now officially entered a period of time known as A.S. – After Square. None of us really knew what A.S. would look like, and none of us could really imagine getting to a place where we had accomplished and finished Square; no more 8AM rehearsals, no more all night script writing sessions, no more hoarding of Holy Bagel boxes to use for set and costumes. Looking back over the last 24 hours, I don’t think any of us have ever experienced such a wide array of such intense emotions in such a short amount of time. We woke up frantic – not stressed, exactly; more of a quiet crescendo of energy which began to carry us all away with it as soon as we entered the theatre at 3PM. The dress rehearsal in the theatre was hectic. I found myself queuing the lights and managing the sound (two new experiences, though I think I did a pretty good job and underplaying my inexperience), we had many moments of collapsing into laughter on stage, and it took everyone a while to get used to a much bigger practice area than the foyer of Level 4 in Beit Shmuel. We finished the run through at around 6:30PM, and suddenly it was go-time. People were getting their makeup done by a variety of well-wishing volunteers, around the theatre and the flat you could hear people going over their lines, in every bathroom you could find another dance routine being practiced. But at 7:30PM, we all gathered backstage in some kind of meditative silence. Hand in hand, we all took a moment to breathe, look around us and be grateful for the opportunity we had been given and the amount of work everyone had put in. Truthfully, from that moment, everything blurs into one. Our audience was a very decent size of 80, we had a lot of online viewers, and the show went amazingly. Better than we’d ever rehearsed it – better than I’d ever have thought. The feeling after the final curtain went down was complete and utter euphoria. Love, so much love, surrounded every single person, and we were all completely and utterly carried away by the weight of our own achievement. We ended the night with a surprise pizza delivery (given to us by our favourite people in the world; the Netzer tzevet) and then partied the night away. Wednesday 1st June 2016 will be engrained deep into the memories of every member of Etgar Ma’ayan, as the date that we really went over and above ourselves and created something truly special. What a way to transition into Sikkum seminar next week.

Machon Weekly Update by Beth Raphael

Amidst the trepidation of both our Northerner’s departure and the ending of Machon, us Netzer Machonikim have still managed to continue on with our lives and make the most of the last few moments on Machon. The last week has been filled with emotion, frenzy and a lot of being together. We spent Friday together at the dead sea, listening to music, eating sandwiches and floating around in the water until we could no longer bear the pain and the stinging. The relaxed environment epitomises our Netzer Machon kvutzah, close and comfortable and yet happy to do our own thing.

That night, Chloe, Ben R, Ella J-K and I went to Sarah Mali, our Machon director’s house for Shabbat dinner. This was interesting as we saw a new side to her, other than the powerful, smart, inspirational and intimidating side that we see in her professional environment. It was really empowering to give voice to our concerns and wants to improve the Machon program, as well as just having classic Shabbat dinner conversations with someone whose opinions we deem so valid and we value so highly.

In my eyes, the Ma’ayan CD was the climax of us as a large kvutzah. As tedious and long as it was (Miranda and I sought refuge as we made a quick escape to Terem to put her shoulder back in it’s socket), the day represented so much that we have been working towards; a sense of community, leadership (from many individuals, whom we thank so so much), a bit of banter and of course, good ma’amadim (creative prayer services). The CD was a huge success and you should all get excited to listening to our beautiful and angelic voices!

Thus begins our last official week on Machon. Whilst each class finishes with a cliched and cute conclusion, with the classic teacher telling us ‘It’s been great teaching you, please contact me if you need anything more’, our famous or infamous leadership class (depends who you ask), left many of us in awe and others in tears. We reflected on the almost tumultuous but exciting and emotional journey of the discovery of our ‘system’, and how we are going to change these things that seem inherent within us. We left with the understanding that this journey is not over, and our progress to a better self will continue and probably linger for the rest of our lives. We had our own respective dinners in our Chaverah groups on the Sunday night, where we were invited to our Chaverah leader, Inbar’s house for hummus and pita, which was very warm, intimate and cosy. For our last Yom Israel we visited Palmachim beach with the whole of Ma’ayan, which was filled with fun, music and photos really. It was so nice to be together and just hang out, read our books and talk, yet again, about something ideological.

Our last week has been filled with enjoyable and sentimental things. One thing I am trying to focus on doing, is to be mindful of everything I am experiencing, to enjoy the company of those around me, to let myself be upset and sad about the change I am about to encounter, to be excited for the future and just to continue be grateful for the opportunities I have had and the people that I have met. So todah Netzer (and parents) xxxxx E-Sandzzz

At the end of our last Yom Tnua on Tuesday, our last movement time, Lior called our time together “a home”, where we can take off our masks and show our true selves and emotions. This resonated with me hugely, having shed a few tears during our weekly ma’amadim. This is when it dawned on me that the end is coming and I was only a few weeks away from losing this safe space where I have found unconditional love, support and irreplaceable banter. Having felt like the end has been coming since Machon started, nearly 4 and a half months ago, watching all the other machonikim as new shnatties, I thought the end would be simple. Devastation would strike, I would have an emotional plane ride and then sleep for a week. Believe me when I say, it is much more complicated than that. I feel so grateful to have met such wonderful, vibrant people who have become my family here but angry that it will be expensive, time consuming and difficult to see many of them again soon. I’m excited to see my family, friends, drive and have my bed again but also terrified of leaving this comfortable and exciting environment that also feels very much like home. I can’t wait to put everything I have learnt, attitudes and new perspectives into practise but what if nothing will ever be as good as this? As you can see, a multitude of emotions and conflict going on here. Leaving our southerners here, our other half, feels unnatural and scary but seeing them progress through the first part of their shnat, having given so much to us northerners, I am eager to see what they make of the rest of the year and how they grow as individuals and as a kvutsah. Both of Livluv north and south warned us about the north and south union nd shnat as a whole, but nothing could have prepared me. I have grown so much that I am not entirely sure how to return back to my normal life and I often wonder about going straight to university instead of coming on shnat… I can’t think of anything worse. So, as we finish machon and then begin our sikkum activities as Ma’ayan and the northerners, we will enjoy our last days together and try to say goodbye as calmly as we can. I am forever grateful to my kvutsah and to Netzer for this unforgettable year.