[EDITORIAL] Reflections on her First Months as Netzer Mazkira

Orit Sagi, Director of Programs of Netzer Olami and Tamar Olami; Rita Fruman, Director of FSU Programs and Operations; Nicki Braun, Netzer Olami Mazkira; and Lior Argaman, Director of Youth and Young Adults Engagement.

In early December, I left Netzer offices in Jerusalem for the cold and windy Chicago, USA to attend the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial. There we had the opportunity to network and bond with other like-minded people from all over the world. The most exciting part for me was getting to know more about NFTY, Netzer’s youth movement branch in North America. I got to spend time with NFTY leadership and teens, sharing stories of summer camps and weekend activities, singing and more.

With the kids of Colônia da CIP, in São Paulo, Brazil.

From the US, my adventures continued, and I headed to São Paulo in Brazil for the summer camps of Avanhandava and Colônia da CIP, our two Netzer branches in Brazil. Not only was I welcomed by the warmth of summer, but also by the leaders and members of Congregação Israelita Paulista.

At Avanhandava camp I learned how participants built their entire campsite out of bamboo and cooked their meals on a fire. They even taught me to safely use an axe. At Colônia camp, I enjoyed colourful and exciting activities filled with costumes, face paint, and dancing.

The two branches of Netzer are very different from each other and that is what makes each of them so special. Even though it was brief, I was able to build friendships with the leadership of both the Netzer branches and learn a lot that I can share with other Netzer branches.

Once I got back to Jerusalem it was time for the annual Veida Olamit, our five-day summit that brings together leaders from Netzer branches around the world. This year welcomed 38 people representing 16 countries. Together, we delved into the topic of ‘Netzer: Past, Present and Future’, learned from guest educators, met with Netzer Olim, celebrated Shabbat, toured Tel Aviv and grew from our discussions with each other.

These past few months have taught me more about Progressive Jewish life around the world than I ever knew before. I continue to believe in the importance of recognizing the ways we are different and similar in our beliefs and practices, and of course appreciate how lucky I am and we are to have like-minded friends active around the world.

Nicki’s travels would not have been possible without the generous support of ARZENU, Tamar Olami, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO).