99 youth movement gap year participants meet in Israel for ZFA/AZYC Sikkum Seminar
November 4, 2013
Now in its sixth year, the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC) Seminar brought together 99 gap year participants from the six Australian Zionist youth movements for a closing seminar.
The three day program provides a platform for the participants to review their year in Israel and to discuss their return home, their commitments to their movements and the wider Jewish community.
99 chanichim from Betar, Bnei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Ha’tzair, Hineni and Netzer were transported from their programs all over the country to stay at Moshabe Hasade in the Negev. They have been participating in programs at Kibbutz Lotan, Sde Boker, Be’er Sheva, Kibbutz Givat Oz, Jerusalem, Modi’in, Rishon Letzion and Acco.
Head of Education at the AZYC, Sarah Raymon, said: “This year’s Sikkum Seminar focused comprehensively on life after Shnat. Chanichim were given a chance to explore the future of their Jewish and Zionist expression in the context of their communities back home. After this seminar it is clear to see that the six youth movements have indeed fostered successful and active members of the Australian Jewish community.”
The participants engaged in discussions on a range of topics including the Australian Jewish diaspora community, Zionist expression, Jewish identify in Australia, volunteering and youth taking responsibility.
A highlight of the seminar was a ceremony marking the anniversary of the charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade in Be’er Sheva in 1917, which was organised by the Be’er Sheva Municipality and the Pratt Foundation at the Park of the Australian Soldier.
Reuben Bolaffi, Head of AZYC, spoke at the ceremony: “By doing our bit to create a better world around us, we strive to do the brave ANZACs proud. Our volunteering efforts in both Australia and Israel aim to benefit both societies individually, as well as together. It is our belief that activism, particularly through informal education, can close social and economic gaps in society, heal intra-societal rifts, and also bring our two distant nations together.”
The participants were joined by Israeli peers to volunteer in local impoverished neighbourhoods, led by “Katef le katef”, which translates to “Shoulder to Shoulder”.
Chantal Borik from Habonim Dror said: “Being in an environment with people whom we started the year and now finishing with them, it is exciting to know we have all developed so much in our year abroad. I can’t wait to return back to Australia and work with my friends in other movements within the Zionist movement in Australia.”
Reuben Bolaffi, Head of AZYC said: “The closing seminar has been a very important and successful tool in analysing the exciting challenges that the participants will embark upon on their return to Australia. The community can be very proud of the next generation of young leaders that will return to Australia. These inspiring young leaders are unlike any of their generation and are enthusiastic, passionate and genuinely want to make our community better.”
“The AZYC closing seminar was a wonderful way to put our year into perspective, and whilst the end of Shnat seems daunting right now, it is exciting to know that we are returning to thriving Jewish communities back home. The seminar sparked much thought about our future contributions to the community and about how we, as future leaders of our movements, can work towards common goals despite our differing ideologies”. Said Roni Froumine from Bnei Akiva.
A new tradition was initiated as all of the youth were presented with two small lapel badges of the AZYC and the ZFA, signifying the completion of their year in Israel.
Yigal Sela, ZFA Israel Office Director said: “For the ZFA, the Seminar is a wonderful opportunity for the shnatties to reflect on their year and the impact it had on them personally and will continue to have on their communities on their return. It’s the juncture of a fun-filled, educational year in Israel and a productive, ongoing contribution to the Australian Zionist movement. These energetic young people will lead and shape the community on their return and we commend them for their commitment.”