Shnat 2011 Departure
The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) is delighted to announce that 247 young adults departed Australia this week to undertake long-term Masa Israel Gap-Year programs in Israel. Monday’s departure saw 144 Shnat and 44 AUJS Aviv participants gathered at airports around Australia for poignant farewell ceremonies tinged with anticipation and excitement for the adventures to come.
Also on Monday, seven participants departed on the inaugural Maccabi Australia-Israel Leadership Program and on Tuesday, a further 41 participants on the ‘Israel by Choice (IBC)’ program.
ZFA President Philip Chester spoke to the Shnat participants on Monday at their farewell ceremony at Melbourne airport noting, ‘it’s wonderful to see participants from all of the movements represented on Shnat 2011. Once the group get to Israel they will take part in a huge opening seminar where they will meet other Shnat participants from across the globe. Australian youth movements have an outstanding reputation and we wish this year’s participants all the best to do us proud by continuing this trend.’
On behalf of the Australian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC), Outgoing Chairperson Dion Gery said, ‘these young adults are about to embark on an exciting year of adventure, discovery and personal growth. As they explore and grapple with their Jewish and Zionist identities in Israel, we look forward to their contribution in various communities in Israel and to the Jewish people at large.’
The participants will spend between 5 and 11 months in Israel, living on kibbutzim; attending educational programs; travelling independently and in groups; and developing unique perspectives on what Judaism and Zionism means to them. They are part of a group of over 350 young adults who have chosen to embark upon a Masa Israel Journey program in the 2011/12 season.
Shai Feniger, Shaliach from Habonim Dror Sydney said, ‘after being in Australia for more than two and a half years, I find it very exciting to see the Shnat cycle beginning each year. I feel it demonstrates the strength of the youth movements and shows their importance within the community. The fact that every year we have people committed to the movements, that we have participants who want to go to Israel and that they come back to Australia reinforces Zionism and the Jewish community.’
Taryn Abrahams, leaving for the AUJS Aviv program said, ‘I haven’t slept this last week because I’ve been so excited! Knowing I was going away on Aviv was what got me through VCE and so it’ll be really great now to relax, meet new people and have a great experience in the Holy Land.’
AUJS National Chairperson Jono Lazarus noted that, ‘at AUJS, we are excited to have our biggest ever Aviv contingent heading to Israel this year. The 44 participants are embarking on a phenomenal program, comprising a unique blend of AUJS’ pluralist, Jewish, Zionist and activist themes that will transform their world view. I think they are going to have an absolute ball over there.’
The anticipation was palpable amongst participants who expressed sentiments of excitement and nerves fused with delight at the prospect of travelling to Israel with friends. ‘It’s my first time in Israel so the uncertainty of what it’s going to be like is exciting. I can’t wait for what everyone says is one of the best years of their life’, said Jordane Hyams from Netzer. Brittany Jaffe from Habo voiced her enthusiasm at the prospect of immersing herself in the new culture saying, ‘I’m looking forward to making friends and really getting to know Israeli culture. I’m excited to not just be a tourist, but to “live as an Israeli” as much as possible.’
Incoming AZYC Chairperson Ellie Golvan is joining the participants for the Shnat opening seminar in Israel. She said, ‘I hope they all have the year of their lives and take every opportunity available to them during their time away. I look forward to them learning a lot from their experiences and bringing it all back to the Australian Jewish Community’.
Masa Israel Journey offer young people a sundry of programs ranging from volunteer and community service to academic, graduate internship and career development programs. All programs provide participants with the opportunity to define their Jewish identities, whilst building skills and knowledge in a dynamic global field. Significant subsidies are available to eligible participants aged 17 – 30.