On July 31, Netzer Olami hosted its annual celebration of all Progressive and Reform youth and young adults visiting Israel on summer programs, called NetzFest. This summer’s megaevent welcomed over 650 participants from around the world:  250 participants from the UK on RSY-Netzer; 250 North American participants from NFTY in Israel; 100 Israeli participants from Noar Telem; 4 Shnat (gap year program in Israel) participants from Australia; one Shnat participant from Colônia da CIP, Brazil; and many visitors from partner organizations.

This was the biggest NetzFest event in over a decade, combining fun, teen spirit, and Progressive values. Fully sponsored by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), NetzFest was intended to be an event where Reform Jewish teens from around the world can meet each other and get a sense of their being part of a larger movement with like-minded individuals from around the world who share the same values and vision for a better world. NetzFest was a great example on how Netzer Olami is the connecting platform in Israel for engaging teens from reform communities around the world.

This year the event included two hours of structured free time with dinner, pool, outdoor challenge games, Netzer store, where 10% of the incomes was donated to Keren B’kavod, for humanitarian aid and social action, and a table to recruit interested parties in Shnat Netzer, our Israel gap year program.

Later in the evening, participants gathered around the main stage and enjoyed dancing and short videos produced by each group to capture their summer Israel experience. The event closed with a musical singalong of camp, dance and pop hits by Shimon Smith. The vibe was amazing and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves and make new friends.  

Anat Manilevich, Director of Noar Telem, Israel’s national branch of Netzer, shared that her participants, “[kept] talking on how much fun they had and that we have to go every year to meet new Netzerniks from around the world. It was an empowering and uplifting evening for all.”

Photos: Gidi Avinary | Netanel Tevel | Roy Elman