IBC Volunteering 2013
Participants on Israel by Choice at volunteering sites.
Filming: Gaby Grabin
Editor and Director: Yigal Sela
Participants on Israel by Choice at volunteering sites.
Filming: Gaby Grabin
Editor and Director: Yigal Sela
“It’s a really interesting way to get to know Israel from the inside,” said IBC Program Director Gabi Grabin. “It’s getting to know Israelis that choose a line of work that is hard every day. … It’s important to understand that these places won’t stop working. They bring such an interesting and fun vibe to these places. It just changes these places and brings a whole new light.”
Volunteers are given a variety of options that fit their interests. “We try to get a large variety of different places or would answer to needs, if it’s working with kids, adults or animals,” Grabin said. “We’re always open for new options as well. Giving it a try is a key. Sometimes you come to a place, and it looks like it’s not something where you want to be.”
Sophie Davies, from Melbourne, was volunteering at the Agam School, for people aged 6-21 who have disabilities. “It was a good place to help and see what day-to-day life is for people I would have never seen before,” Davies said. “In my class they don’t speak, but I can already see their personalities, and have made a connection to them.”
Daniel Edelman, from Melbourne, volunteered at Shikma, a village for people with retardation. “At this place, you can see a difference that you’re actually making,” Edelman said. “They learn your names, and they get excited when you come. It is hard, but fulfilling at the same time.”
Jessie Goldberg, from Sydney, chose Leket, Israel’s national food bank, where she could be hands-on and have a direct vision of her accomplishments.”You can see the effect you have. You can see at the end of the day 10 crates or 20 crates – that’s what I’ve done,” Goldberg said. “You know that it’s going to go to some place where it’s going to go to good use.”
MELBOURNE — More than 30 leaders of the Israeli communities from across Australia converged in the Beth Weizmann Community Centre on Sunday, 19 May, for the inaugural “Israelis in Australia” conference. It is estimated that more than 16,000 Israelis live in Australia, and representatives from communities from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast brought to the table their perspectives on issues, challenges and opportunities facing the diverse communities.
The conference was organised by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Association for Israelis in Australia (AIA). Its aims were to develop strategies to connect Israelis living in Australia with each other, with their local Jewish communities, with other Israeli communities across the world and, of course, with Israel.
We were privileged to welcome to the conference three guests from Israel: Brigadier General Azriel Nevo, the chairman of the Global Task Force for Israeli Communities; Monika Lev-Cohen, Program Director of Global Israeli Communities Program from the Jewish Agency; and Gary Vitkin from the Israeli Scouts.
Nevo highlighted the priority of working with the second generation of Israeli immigrants to Australia, to strengthen their connections to Israel, to the Hebrew language and to their Jewish identity.
This conference is the beginning of what will be a concerted process to develop initiatives in the areas of:
• Education and youth (“second generation”)
• Israeli Culture
• Business and networking
ZFA President Philip Chester said:
“This conference is the first conference which specifically brought together Israeli leadership from around Australia together with the Jewish Agency and with the local community. We are delighted with the enthusiasm, contribution and candour of the participants. Of course, it is a first step, and there is much work to be done as a result of it. We are hopeful that the recommendations made will result in stronger connections and activities between the Israeli and local Jewish communities and the State of Israel.”
Twice a year, youth movements across Australia gather at campsites across rural Australia on their Winter and Summer Camps. This year in July, each Zionist youth movement will be embark on their Winter camps of about 3-7 days each.
Camps are the pivotal experiences in the youth movement calendars. They allow the participants to be Continue reading
Participants on ZFA Israel Programs gap-year programs send greetings from Israel to family and friends in Australia.
To find out which Israel journey is right for you, visit http://www.israelprograms.com.au
Videos produced, edited and filmed by Yigal Sela.
Greetings to Melbourne
Greetings to Sydney
Greetings to Queensland
Greetings to Perth
Thousands across Australia attended commemoration events for Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at events organised by state Zionist Councils.
“It is of course sad that so many in our community have stories and memories of Israeli friends and family who lost their lives building and defending the State of Israel,” said Philip Chester, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia. “It is, however, very important that we pay respect those who gave their lives by commemorating Yom Hazikaron, and the fact that this commemoration has become so much larger in the last few years speaks volumes of our community’s wish to honour their memories.”
In each ceremony, friends and family members of those who were lost lit candles in their memory.
• Melbourne: Nearly 1500 members Continue reading
The Zionist Federation of Australia supports the work of the state Zionist Councils, Hagshama and their partners in celebrating the 65th anniversary of Israel’s independence.
Find where you can celebrate it in your area in 2013. Continue reading
In honor of the International Day for Commemorating the Holocaust & Israel’s National Day for Countering Antisemitism, the World Zionist Organization launches:
Worldwide Rallies Against Antisemitism!
Sunday, 27 January 2013
In light of last year’s steady rise in anti-Semitic acts around the globe, the time has come to stand up and declare “Enough!”
Never again will we keep silent in the face of racist and genocidal hatred!
Nearly 1000 came out to organised events in Australia and New Zealand on 27 January coinciding with the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel’s Day for Countering Anti-Semitism, which also was the launch of the World Zionist Organization’s “Hate Stops Here” campaign.
About 140 post-secondary young adults from Zionist youth movements departed from Australia en route to Israel on their gap year on shnat, 10-month programs in which they are immersed in Israel’s culture. At a farewell ceremony in Melbourne, Philip Chester, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, addressed about 250 parents, madrichim and shnat participants.
“We are living in a time where the lines between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are often dangerously blurred. This usually manifests itself in an image of Israel that is removed from the reality of Israel’s vibrant society,” Chester said. “It is significant that the Shnat participants are departing on UN Holocaust Commemoration Day and Israel’s National Day for Countering Anti-Semitism: There is no more powerful response to the anti-Zionists and anti-Semites in our midst than the large numbers of proud Australian Jews making a significant commitment to engaging and immersing themselves with Israel on experiential programs.”
Also in Melbourne, the Jewish Holocaust Centre organised a Holocaust commemoration ceremony, with about 200 attendees. Nina Bassat AM, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, was the keynote speaker.
In Sydney, 300 people attended an event in association with the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. Attendees listened to personal accounts of the Holocaust from Olga Horak, NSW Labor MP Ron Hoenig and Regina Feiler, who recounted the story of her husband, Jack; and Christopher Woothorpe read a message from UN President Ban Ki-Moon. Anthony Levin, Horak’s grandson, delivered a keynote address about the responsibility of third generation survivors.
“I would encourage a shift away from the rhetoric of ownership, and towards one of custodianship,” Levin said. “Custodianship conveys the sense of something entrusted to us, to guard, to maintain, not to own, but to pass on again. It concerns our responsibility to public memory.”
Two events were held in New Zealand. In Auckland, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key addressed about 200, describing his mother’s escape from Europe. Joint sponsors were Auckland City Council, the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, the Raye Freedman Arts Centre, and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.
In Wellington, Vera Egermayer, who survived the Terezin Concentration Camp, encouraged continued vigilance against hate through remembering, archiving and memorialising. Sponsors were Wellington City Council, the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, the Wellington Regional Jewish Council, B’nai B’rith and the Council of Jewish Women, and the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.
“The Holocaust is still with us today – it affects all humanity across time and space and it addresses all generations,” Egermayer said. “That is why the children of a small school in New Zealand were able to identify with children, like themselves, whose lives were cut off before they could be lived- decades previously in distant lands. And that is why they decided go beyond sentiment and take action.”
J-Wire contributed to this report.
More than 360 Australian young adults aged 18-30 will be on long-term Israel programs facilitated by the ZFA and supported by MASA Israel Journey during the 2013 calendar year, breaking the previous record of 345 in 2011. This is a 20 percent increase from 2012.
“I always wanted to be in Israel for a long period of time, to get to know my heritage and my roots much better and also to have personal growth,” said Alan Stein, from Melbourne, on Betar’s shnat program. “It will be great to be back in Australia (next year) and to pass to Australian Betarim all of the things that I will learn in Israel.”
A large number of teenagers, madrichim and family members gathered at the Melbourne, Sydney and Perth airports on 27 January for ceremonies to farewell shnat participants from Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC) youth movements. In all, 140 participants from across Australia from Betar, B’nei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Hineni and Netzer plan to arrive in Israel by 1 February.
ZFA President Philip Chester addressed the Melbourne shnat farewell: “The ZFA is involved to try to get you thinking about when you come back to Australia because you’re going to be leaders here not only in your movements but also in the community itself. You’re going to learn a lot, and you’re going to have fun. You’re going to come back with a lot of knowledge, experience, spirit and ruach – all of the things to make our community a better place.”
Gap-year programs AUJS Aviv and Israel by Choice (IBC) have a combined 50 percent increase in participation compared with 2012. There are 88 young Aussie adults on other programs.
“I’m going to Israel because I love the country and I want to spend a long amount of time there and embrace the culture and Judasim,” said Jessica Steinberg, 18, from Melbourne, who starts AUJS Aviv this week. ” I went to (Mount) Scopus (Memorial College) since I was a baby, and I’ve heard about Israel my whole life. It’s amazing to see it when you’ve heard about it for all of those years.”
As long-term Israel programs begin, 235 young adults recently completed short-term organised Israel programs over the 2012-13 Australian summer season: three buses of 40 young adults each on AUJS Taglit-Birthright Israel, two buses of 40 young adults each on Chabad on Campus Taglit-Birthright Israel, and 35 on AUJS Academy. Taglit-Birthright is the free 10-day tour of Israel for young adults aged 18-26 who haven’t been on an organised program to Israel, and Academy is a six-week program and tour.
1. Members of B’nei Akiva at a ceremony before departing for shnat, 27 January at Melbourne International Airport.
Photo by Ginette Searle/ZFA
2. Shnat participants at Sydney International Airport, 27 January.
Photo by Yuval Nemirovsky/Netzer NSW
3. Members of the welcoming committee that met youth movement gap-year program participants arriving from Australia at Ben Gurion Airport at the end of January.
Photo by Yigal Sela/ZFA
4. Youth movement gap-year program participants, shortly after arriving in Israel, tour Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, during the ZFA/AZYC Opening Ceremony.
Photo by Yigal Sela/ZFA
In shows of solidarity, around 4500 supporters of Israel attended rallies across Australia on Sunday, 18 November, wearing red in line with the “Code Red – Stop the Rockets” campaign, which draws attention to the 15 seconds Israelis have to reach safety at the sound of the “Code Red/Tzeva Adom” siren.
The Zionist Federation of Australia, along with the respective state Zionist councils, Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and Australasian Zionist Youth Council (AZYC), coordinated rallies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The rally in the Australian Capital Territory was coordinated with the Israeli Embassy.
Community leaders and politicians spoke at the rallies, unequivocally voicing their support for Israel’s right self-defence and showing sympathy for Israeli citizens who have been living in fear for the last 12 years as 12,000 rockets have been released by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Follow-up: Community solidarity evening and tefillah, 20 November, 7:30 pm, Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (Toorak Shule)
Others in attendance: Ian Britza MP, Member of the Legislative Assembly, representating WA Premier Colin Barnett
Location: Outside Israeli Embassy
Location: QLD Jewish Community Centre
Highlights: At the State Zionist Council of Queensland AGM, the board passed a resolution supporting Israel and condemning Hamas
The rallies and the Code Red campaign have been extensively covered throughout Australia, Israel and internationally.
Individuals’ relationships with Israel are complex and unique, but there are certainly generalities which define groups and generations. Just as Israel’s economy has transformed from largely agricultural to one based on technology, science and intellectual endeavour, so has the dominant perception of Israel morphed from the kibbutz lifestyle as an exemplar of equality and egalitarianism to a more high-tech, culturally creative one.
The paradox of this culturally vibrant, creative and productive nation thriving in an environment where it faces geo-political and security challenges is a critical discussion for Israelis and diaspora Jews alike, and it is one of the themes that the Zionist Federation of Australia’s guest speaker David Hazony will be exploring during his November Australian visit.
Hazony is a contributing editor to the Jewish Daily Forward, and he was the former editor-in-chief of Azure magazine of the Shalem Centre. In his writing he has a broad repertoire of topics around the relationship of Israel and the Diaspora, Culture and Zionism.
“Israelis have secretly transitioned from poorly importing much of their cultural life to unselfconsciously striking out on their own, compiling and recombining and remixing and creating until things are produced that are not ‘Zionist’ or even ‘Israeli,’ but just whatever they are, amazing new expressions of human and machine and creative and artistic and bold,” Hazony wrote in a 9 April 2012 piece on the Forward.
Hazony is the featured speaker at the ZFA’s 45th Biennial Conference, Nov. 11, in Melbourne, and he will deliver interactive presentations to myriad community groups in Sydney and in Melbourne from 7-13 November. Click for more information about his public events
“The ZFA is proud to bring such a highly respected, esteemed writer and Zionist thinker to the community,” said ZFA President Philip Chester. “David will bring to our community a contemporary take on the perennial issues – how we relate to Israel, what Israel means to us in the Diaspora and how we can improve our relationship. Whilst David has serious academic and literary credentials, he will explore these and other issues in an interactive and engaging way – as befits our times.”
26 October 2012