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Shalom Israel as Aussie gap year participants arrive in Israel

Stacy Hayman 

The Australian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC) and the Zionist Federation of Australia welcomed 131 Shnatties in Israel with an incredible opening seminar on 2 February 2018, full of ruach and excitement for the year ahead.

After a long flight Shnat participants arrived in Israel for the 6 day AZYC Opening Seminar, a unique opportunity for participants from Bnei Akiva, Betar, Habonim Dror, Hineni and Netzer to join together as they prepare for the year long journey ahead.

Special guest, Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan warmly welcomed all Shnat participants to Israel at a Gala Dinner at Neve Ilan. “It was my pleasure to be at the dinner and I got a real buzz from all the energy, enthusiasm and commitment from what seemed like a terrific bunch of young people.” said Ambassador Cannan.

Bnei Akiva, NSW Shnattie Rebecca Lazarus commented “The AZYC seminar was an eye opening experience for all the different participants. It was fascinating to see how each youth movement connects differently with Judaism and admirable to see how despite differences everyone came together. Through taking part in the AZYC seminar we discussed our differences and bonded over our similarities. It was an enjoyable experience and a perfect way to start off our year in Israel.”

The Shnatties first days in Israel were filled with activities and varied experiences designed to challenge, encourage and help set the framework for the year ahead. Program highlights included the screening of the AFL Peace Team documentary followed by a meet and greet with some of the players and a Saturday night drum circle session.

No introduction to Israel would be complete without a visit to the Kotel, which was a first for many or walking through Machane Yehuda market before Shabbat followed by Pluralist Friday night services together with a joint Shabbat dinner filled with ruach and singing.

The shnat programs focus on education, leadership training, Jewish learning, community service, touring, hiking and more. The programs give the participants skills to be educated, competent and passionate leaders in the Jewish and wider community.

“I am incredibly excited to act as the new chairperson of the AZYC this year. Together with Tomer Cohen (Deputy Chairperson elect), I look forward to serving all the youth movements to help empower Jewish youth and better our community.”   Chaya Herszberg, AZYC.

To date over 200 participants have arrived in Israel to participate in Shnat programs and long term Israel programs including Israel By Choice (IBC), Aardvark Israel and the Hebrew University.

For further information on the different Israel programs available, please visit the ZFA Israel Programs website www.masaisrael.org or call (03) 9272 5584.