At the end of February the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s Anita Saltz International Education Center held the Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leadership, which was attended by 26 leaders from 10 countries. This prestigious seminar, which was held for the 12th year, is intended for community leaders from reform communities world-over. During the seminar participants learnt about Zionist, political, social, religious and historical issues through ancient and modern texts, and they participated in meetings and tours of historic, Zionist and social sites. Each participant had to be recommended by a rabbi or a community leader, with the purpose being that upon their return to their communities, they will assist in building and strengthening the ties between the community to Israel, they will focus on Israel and Zionism as key topics in their community agenda and will take on key roles within the World Union.
The seminar offered a variety of subjects and activities, including: prayer workshops, tours of sites from First and Second Temple periods, meeting local communities, tours of Zionist sites, such as Mt. Herzl, Yad Vashem, the Diaspora Museum, Independence Hall and Sde Boker, they also visited environmental protection enterprises and reform kibbutzim in the Arava Region - Yahel and Lotan.
The members of the “Etgar” Project recently began the volunteering stage. The Netzer Olami “Etgar” members (the World Union’s Zionist youth movement) come to Israel to participate on one year (gap-year) program in Israel in which they choose either the World Union’s “Etgar” course or the Jewish Agency’s “Machon L’madrichei Chutz L’aretz” component. “Etgar” members take on the task of volunteering from March, and one of their tasks is to collect and pack food for the needy. Later they participate in the “Israel and the Periphery” Seminar in order to strengthen their Jewish and Zionist identity and to strengthen their ties to the country, they will also take a weeklong tour of southern Israel – a weeklong hike, where they will get to know the land and the country “through their feet”. The program is very important to the shaping of the member’s Zionist identity, and for strengthening the participants’ ties to Israel, forming and strengthening their Jewish identities, and developing their leadership skills.
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