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Topic: Hakhel Blog

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Five (March 18, 2016)

by Morriah Kaplan Member of GariNYC: Brooklyn, NY We started off the day early at the Waldorf-Hassidic school that the community ‘garin’ within Moshav Shuva built. Their pedagogy is inspired by teachings of the ancient commentator Rabbi Chiya, who insisted on teaching the Torah to his students in an experiential way. We spoke with the kindergarten teacher, who described how they teach the students to appreciate and honor individual differences, to have patience that success won’t come in a single day, and to connect with their world – including their religion – in an emotional and experiential way, rather thing simply using their intellect. Building this school was a huge accomplishment of the Shuva community, and it’s brought more young families to the area, particularly those who wish to teach their children Hassidic values along with a solid secular education.   We then traveled to Be’er Sheva to enjoy a delicious breakfast and conversation at Café Ringelblum, a coffee shop run by a community called Kehillat Kama which emerged a decade ago to revitalize the Daled neighborhood of Be’er Sheva. The café employs youth-at-risk, and has graduated over 60 youth with a high success rate of employment retention, educational attainment, […]

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Jewish Intentional Community Tour of Israel: Day Four (March 17, 2016)

by Tamar Fendel currently living in Jerusalem, member of Berkeley Moshav in Berkeley, California This morning started out on a different note than the earlier days of the tour. Instead of having breakfast together at our hostel and then heading out to visit an intentional community, we woke in homes scattered throughout Jerusalem, after a lovely night of home stays in the Horesh community in Kiryat Yovel or with friends. We reunited at a lovely cafe, where we met with two staff members from the Ministry of the Diaspora of the State of Israel. This is one of Israel’s newest executive agencies, which is focused on supporting Jewish communities throughout the world. It is a bold new concept that Israel can have a role in developing Jewish life in the Diaspora, in conjunction with Jewish communities in the Diaspora supporting Israel financially and politically. We had an opportunity to learn about the ministry’s forward thinking global efforts and share about each of our projects. It would be wonderful to continue this collaboration between Hakhel and the Israeli government moving forward. Our next stop was in Lod, where we met with Garin Elyashiv, a community committed to acts of hesed. The […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Three (March 16, 2016)

by Gulienne Rollins-Rishon Work at Home Mom & Pop: Brooklyn, NY Wow. I’ll start with wow. This trip has been incredible so far. I’m beyond exhausted but in the best possible way. Today we switched gears a little bit. We’ve been experiencing non-Orthodox Jewish intentional communities so far, some of them more Jewish because they’re Israeli and composed at least mostly of people who are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and some of people who are intentionally intricately weaving Jewish practice, spirituality, and identity into their communal lives. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen so far, but was wondering where I, as a person who values adherence to halakha as a part of my manifestation of my Jewish identity, could fit into a community so warm, trusting, and intentional. Maybe not me myself exactly, but someone like me at least. Where was this level of intentionality, trust, and ability to be authentically and fully onesself and discuss that self with what’s basically an extended warm, unconditionally loving and accepting family, in a space where if that self also wanted to keep kosher and be shomer Shabbat, it would be fully integrated with the community life? Today, I got some answers. We began […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Two (March 15, 2016)

by Geulah Finman   In the summer of 2011, I found myself half-awake attempting to sleep while my mind drifted to the scene around me. Guitar strumming mingled with the sound of young passionate voices engaged in a dialogue. The social protest movement that gripped Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel felt hopeful but confusing and at the time directionless. What were we asking for? What did we really want? In the first two days of Hazon’s Jewish Intentional Communities tour, I met individuals who are living in Israeli society and responding with meticulous intent to these social, economic challenges that in fact plague our entire globe. “We as humans, we as Jews, are in a state of peril” says Muki Tzur, the famous Kibbutz historian. He presses on further, “Do not accept collectivism as a form of activism or individuality as a negative source of ego.” Being in community is not enough. How are we helping those beyond ourselves? In what ways can intentional community fill the gaps we no longer depend on our governments to solve? Today we met young people filled with a deep sense of conviction speaking of the past. Revolution needs to occur in […]

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Introduction to Intentional Communities in Israel: Day One (March 14, 2016)

by Rabbi Deborah K. Bravo, Founder and Spiritual Leader of Makom NY: A New Kind of Jewish Community Today was our first full day of learning about intentional communities at the Hazon Hakhel Israel Seminar 2016. We came together as a group of individuals of varying ages and backgrounds from across the Unites States and Israel, representing a variety of very different intentional communities at home. Not only did we spend the day getting to know one another and our communities, but we were also introduced to the framework of intentional communities in Israel. We began the day by visiting the Kinneret Courtyard, where we learned from Muki Tsur, a giant in the history and understanding of the Kibbutz movement. We had the opportunity to really understand and discuss the beginnings of the Kibbutz movement, which truly are the basis for intentional communities in Israel today. We then drove on to Kibbutz Degania Aleph, the first Kibbutz to be opened in 1910. Though the Kibbutz movement today is nothing like it was then, it planted the seeds and thoughts for what would be created nearly a century later. Our afternoon conversation began with a discussion about Makom, the umbrella organization […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Seven

by Liz Savage What an incredible week; we’ve met such an amazing and diverse collection of people and institutions all around the country, all with their individual takes and structures about and around intentional communities. I don’t know quite what my expectation was going into this trip- maybe just touring around the dusty remnants of a bygone era- but the reality far surpassed all of what I imagined. The tour began in the wake of the election results here. For the 30% who voted for Netanyahu it was a great result. But the mood for some, myself included, was depressed. There was a real sense of gloominess in Tel Aviv, a place that overwhelmingly voted for fresh ideas and perspective. Israel has so very much to offer the world; its grit, its heart, its innovation, its beauty, and the notion that this election would further distance and divide the Jewish community in America was gut wrenching. And so with somewhat of a heavy heart, the tour began. First we went to the north, to learn about the beginnings of kibbutzim movement at Chatzer Kinneret and Degania. There, overlooking the glimmering Kinneret, we heard some history- Kibbutz 101, as it were-which […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Six

by Gavriel Meir-Levi As an Israeli who served in the IDF with Druze soldiers, it was a great privilege to visit the village of Beit Ja’n. Our guide and interlocutor was a young woman named Maya, herself a success story of the Druze community organization Ofakim L’Atid. Ofakim L’Atid means future horizons, and has branches in 8 out of Israel’s 18 Druze villages, with 2-3 more villages likely joining in the near future (note: this does not include the Druze populations of Ramat HaGolan which are in a separate category). Their activities include bike rides, distributing food to the needy, classes in nutrition and youth lounges for thousands of participants throughout Israel. Unlike any of the other communities we visited, the Druze Ofakim L’Atid community is run ENTIRELY ON A VOLUNTEER BASIS. No one is paid for their work, in fact often the organizers proudly pay out of their own pocket to help make sure a program is successful. The initial core group was made up of Druze IDF officers, but has since grown to over 100 male and female community leaders of various ages. Maya, our guide, participated in the youth programs as a teenager and then joined the […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Five

by Hart Levine of the Beis Community in Washington Heights, New York After a brief morning visit to Jerusalem, we visited two urban kibbutzim in Gilo and Lod. Bet Yisrael is a more or less pluralistic urban kibbutz in Gilo. Kibbutznikim in Bet Yisrael are all interested in leading a spiritual, Jewish life, but not necessarily in a formally observant community. Members work for the most part outside of the community. Some 9 core families pool wages. Many others live in the community, participate in some of the social action projects and learning with the bet Yisrael kvutza. About half the families are drawn from the mechina (service learning) year prior to army service. Bet Yisrael’s key social projects revolve around the education of youth with preschools as a primary focus uniting members from Bet Yisrael with other residents in Gilo. Bet Yisrael’s community version of Jewish practice was unique among the groups we visited, and spoke to many of us in the HAKHEL network. At its core, the et Yisrael community searched for the essence of Judaism to unify the secular seekers among them with the religiously observant members. Their solution was to emphasize Hillel’s Torah on one foot—clearly […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Four

by guest authors Roger Studley of Berkeley Moshav and Jeff Levy of the Jewish Community Housing Initiative (Boulder, CO) Today was about crisis and renewal. We woke to a beautiful day at Kibbutz Yizreel, had coffee overlooking a verdant valley, breakfast with marmalade made from produce from the kibbutz, and prepared for our day. The night before we’d learned about Kibbutz Yizreel, how they were one of the few kibbutzim to emerge strong from the crisis that decimated most of the 270 classic kibbutzim that had been created between the 1930s and 1980s. Today at breakfast and on the bus, we learned about this crisis. By the 1980s, the purpose of the original kibbutzim had largely been fulfilled: The swamps had been drained, the roads had been built, the borders of the country established, an economy and army had been created. Youth movements in Israel (such as Dror Yisrael) and the diaspora (such as Habonim Dror) were still cultivating young Jews and instilling in them the values of the movement: Love of Israel, collective responsibility, socialist ideals. But these young Jews no longer felt compelled to actualize these ideals by joining kibbutzim, largely because the mission of these kibbutzim no […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Three

by guest author Sara Shalva, Lev B’Lev member What a day! Continuing our exposure and exploration of the history of the development of communal life in Israel, today we visited and toured 3 urban kibbutzim.  In the morning, we woke from our home stays with families Garin Ometz and in the bus shared that we were so impressed and inspired by the generosity and openness of our host families.  We then dealt with some hard questions about Zionism and the nature of many of the mission driven intentional communities located in the periphery of Israel, dedicated to helping at risk populations.   Much of the discussion was in the shadow of the recent elections and the reality that many of us were very disappointed with the results and concerned about the future of Israel under this leadership.   Our first Kibbutz visit was to Mishol, an urban kibbutz in Nazareth Illit.  Now the largest urban kibbutz, we had a lovely home made breakfast and a wonderful tour and presentation.  I was most interested in learning that kibbutz functions in small groups, makes decisions based on consensus and works hard to differentiate between methods and values.  For example, Mishol uses consensus as […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day Two

by guest author Harriet Schiffer, Berkeley Moshav member Our first day was a feast of new ideas and perspectives. In our first meeting with James he gave us a key to help us framework our journey. He entreated us to seek out the stories of the lives of the people in each place we visit and use those stories for inspiration and tachlis… Tachlis. A new word for me meaning, practicality. We were to use others’ stories to inspire us and to help discover the tools that worked in each community facing unique challenges. We traveled to Degania, the Mother of the Kibbutzim. Degania was the historical and classical springboard for all kibbutzim to come. We heard about young men (and some women) 16-18 making their way to Palestine to fulfill their Socialist Zionist dreams. Young, passionate, idealistic and determined. I thought about my grandfather who had travelled east across the Eurasian continent in those same years. He was escaping the same pogroms. In both situations, these young men had tough options before them and their lives seemed harsh. In both cases they were leaving family and all that was familiar behind. But my grandfather was completely alone and these young Socialist Zionists […]

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Hakhel Seminar: Day One

by guest author Sara Zebovitz, GariNYC founder and member Tonight, we spent some time with residents of Kibbutz Yizreel, a kibbutz built in 1948 and still going strong. My personal connection to this kibbutz is strong – Yizreel was founded by Habonim Dror, the movement I am a product and part of. Kibbutz Yizreel was described today by a few people as a utopia. Here, families of all generations live side by side, working through issues together, supporting each other, creating a safe and comfortable community for all who pass through, and sharing their lives financially, emotionally, and physically. The children have a sense of independence and also feel supported. The members have the opportunity to work outside of the kibbutz in the work in which they are passionate. The kibbutz, though it has struggled in the past, is financially well-off. Money is not a stress factor for the most part in the day-to-day operations of the kibbutz, as finances are shared and equal. Decision-making power is shared, but priority is given to the younger generation – to the future. For the past 15 years, I have learned about the evolution of the kibbutz movement. I have learned about the […]

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