Netzer Olami

Netzer Olami is the Zionist youth movement of Progressive Jews throughout the World. It is the youth movement of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and of ARZENU, the Zionist arm of the worldwide Reform movement.

Shnat 05Netzer Olami aims to serve the educational needs of all young Progressive Jews and Reform Zionists wherever they may be, helping to create a strong and meaningful bond with Israel and Jewish tradition through shlichut (emissaries), Israel programs and camps around the world. Netzer Olami is currently active on six continents and provides services to all communities that make up the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

For more information, contact Netzer Director Maoz Haviv

What does Netzer mean?

Netzer " is an acronym for Noar Tzioni Reformi, which means Reform Zionist Youth. The idea of a world movement was formed in the early 1980s in Jerusalem at a forerunner of what we still call today the worldwide Netzer veidah (conference). The name given to the world movement was Netzer Olami (World Netzer). The Jerusalem office of the World Union is the headquarters for all the Netzer sniffim (branches) around the world.

Who belongs to Netzer Olami?

There are today approximately 16,000 young people connected to the Progressive movement worldwide, with 3,500 participating in summer and winter camps run by the different sniffim of Netzer Olami.

Netzer Olami was founded simultaneously in Australia and South Africa through a partnership of community members, shlichim (emissaries), rabbis and young people themselves. Young leaders from Progressive communities with the aid of their rabbis from the Progressive movement brought shlichim to various Progressive communities to help guide the building of the new youth movement. The shlichim came as educators to impart to young people a knowledge and experience of the state of Israel and to help them build the classic framework of youth movements.

In 1982, the United Kingdom joined the movement when Reform Synagogue Youth (RSY) became a snif of Netzer Olami. The Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues Network of Youth Clubs (ULPSNYC), also in the U.K., became a snif in the early 1990s.

At this time, Netzer Olami entered a new phase with the addition of the first non-English speaking snif in Argentina, created as a result of a joint rabbi-shaliach initiative among the young people there.

In the mid-1990s, Netzer Olami sniffim were created in the former Soviet republics of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In 1997, Netzer was established in Holland; in 2000, Chufshah, the youth group of the Shalom Synagogue in Sâo Paulo, Brazil developed a closer relationship with Netzer and in 2001, Netzer Olami was established in Spain.

The Israeli Progressive youth movement, Noar Telem, has always had a close relationship with Netzer and decided to officially become a Netzer Olami snif in 2002. The largest Reform youth movement, the National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) in the United States, voted to join Netzer Olami at their convention in 2005.

As the youth movement of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Netzer Olami is always looking to have contact with Progressive communities around the world, and to the possibility of new sniffim developing in the future. Netzer Olami has connections with Reform Jewish communities in India, Singapore and Hong Kong, and potential exists for the establishment of sniffim in Germany, the Baltic states and Brazil.

What does Netzer Olami believe?

The rabbis, shlichim and young people who established Netzer Olami were inspired by the traditional chalutz (pioneering) Zionist youth movements of Eastern Europe in the first half of the 20th century. They founded a youth movement to empower young people to lead others, make decisions for themselves and to run their own programs.

Netzer sniffim, being a part of the Progressive Jewish community, embraced Progressive Judaism, its beliefs and values. They also embraced Zionism as had the traditional youth movements. Although the Reform movement originally struggled with the idea of Zionism in its early years, from the 1930s on, the movement re-evaluated its position and the state of Israel became a stronger focus.

Netzer Olami aligned itself with the ideology of Reform Zionism, believing in a particular vision for Judaism, Israel and the world. While the sniffim often share a different vision of the world than their adult Progressive communities, Netzer Olami believes that this is a healthy and vital element of a youth movement, even if it means sometimes being at odds with those older than us.

The decision to establish the Netzer Olami headquarters in Jerusalem was an ideological statement of the movement's Zionist commitment and its aim to be the link for all the sniffim around the world. We encourage as many chanichim (participants) as possible to come to Israel on short-term summer tours, on our ten-month program, Shnat Netzer, and for various others seminars and conferences. We also send shlichim, who are Israeli citizens, to visit and help the sniffim to work with the movement. One of their important roles is to develop and implement educational programs and materials about Israel.

As a youth movement, we believe in empowering young people to run things for themselves and to take responsibility for the major decisions affecting the movement. The movement's ideology is taught through informal education using a creative multi-method approach. Each year Netzer Olami conducts a worldwide veidah (conference) in Israel where the young people who constitute its leadership set policy for the whole movement.

As noted above, we also believe in a particular ideology Reform Zionism and we believe in taking an activist stance to bring about the practical realization of that ideology in our world. Some of the key ideas and concepts of this ideology are: Reform/Progressive Judaism, tikkun olam (repair of the world), aliyah nimshechet (continuing immigration to Israel) and Reform Zionist community.