Canada - Ken Nir Oz
Canada - Camp Shomria
USA - Camp Shomria
Shomrim Ve Shomrot Chazak!
It has been another year since the last State of the Movement was written; a busy, exciting and meaningful year. I hope this State of the Movement letter finds you in good health, good spirits, and a good deal closer to what you too have been working towards. These are exciting and important times for a Socialist Zionist Jewish Youth and Life Movement.
On the one hand, there is a strong demand being placed on us to prove our current relevancy; why should Kibbutz members in Israel care that Hashomer Hatzair runs Kenim in North America? Why should our own North American Jewish communities care that we run some of the smallest groups around? On the other hand, while we struggle to prove our worth to the world in the way that it asks - in facts, figures and charts reflecting an upward curve in quantity - we stand firm in our understanding that we are an integral and meaningful part of the Jewish community, the North American reality, and the world at large; that we are of the highest quality. In a society where we are pressured to spend our time in front of a television screen, wearing the coolest clothes and leaving the important decisions to the adults, we stand strong as a hub of alternative youth who are proud to show the world that they matter, that they have a voice, and that they will act for what is right. From this place of understanding ourselves to be necessary in today’s society, we proudly take upon ourselves the challenge of growing our numbers and reaching more people.
This year, the Toronto Ken (Ken Nir Oz) has flourished; the Ken Hanhaga has been both younger and more active than in previous years; the hadracha has been more committed and intentional , meeting weekly in addition to the Ken activities for their own peulot and training; the chanichim have been attending peulot with great enthusiasm and consistency. Ken Nir Oz is truly exemplifying what it means to be Hashomer Hatzair. The American Movement has had a year of growth, beginning of the seeds of four new Kenim in Woodstock NY, Queens NY, Long Island NY, and Tenafly NJ. These Kenim represent the partnerships we have built with other community organizations in these areas to bring Hashomer Hatzair to more and more youth.
As the youth movement in both Canada and the United States grow stronger, so too is the process for the Kvutzot Hemshech - yedid, first, second and third year hadracha kvutzot (ages 15-19). What only a few short years ago did not even exist as a significant phase of movement life now has a clear structure and process. The Mamshichim are continuing to engage both as madrichim and chanichim in kvutzot. They are being guided by madrichim, Bogrim who are continuing to invest in their chanichim as they continue forward in their movement lives. This year, Kvutzat Hazorea had many of its members go to Israel on the Shnat Hachshara program, where they have continued their process , while also building their Shnat kvutza, Kvutzat Ga’ash. They will soon be coming home and we are looking forward to seeing them step back into the movement and sharing the benefits of their experiences with us.
The bogrim movement too has had a very significant year, continuing in its now more established structures of monthly North American seminars, local community events, and our winter Hagshama seminar in Israel, Mifgash. Both Kvutzat Orev in Brooklyn and Kvutzat Givah in Toronto have relocated to new parts of town, but have remained centres of movement life. Kvutzat Givah has hosted many seminars and community dinner nights. Kvutzat Orev has been home to weekly Shabbat dinners and Sunday afternoon yoga sessions, as well as taken concrete steps towards building an urban kibbutz in New York City. Kvutzat Shoresh, a new bogrim kvutza made up of members of Kvutzat Nachshon, was born last summer and will be moving into a communa in Toronto in September. In December, a group of Bogrim (Magshimim) actively living movement lives, came together to continue to carve out a path forward; Israel has been a main topic and we may yet see a Garin Aliyah in the coming years. All across the board, bogrim have taken on responsibility and the initiative to create movement lives, build up their local communities, and push forward towards Hagshama.
We see clearly now that if we truly want to be relevant we cannot only act for ourselves, but we must look outside of our internal community and be active agents in the world. To this end, this year’s Peulat Aviv, a North American level Mamshichim Seminar and Youth Movement decision making forum, will include a topical veida on defining the youth movement and what it means to be a leader in it. The Bogrim will be having their first ever veida this June where they will be dealing with the question of mission, particularly with regard to Zionist activism in North America, Socialist activism in North America and Socialist-Zionist activism in Israel. As old projects like Without Walls, Project C.L.I.M.B. and Project Equity continue to gain momentum, new projects abound, and Bogrim have joined political and social initiatives and organizations in their communities. This June, Bogrim will be participating and guest speaking at a U.S. Social Forum in Detroit where over 20,000 Leftists will be gathering. As we turn our view out into the world, the Tnua Olamit has also been an area of focus. Only a few months ago, a North American Tzevet Olami was formed. Since then, the tzevet has actively pursued the building and strengthening of connections and partnerships with Shomrim across the world. Members of this tzevet are involved in seminars of the European youth movements, and the Bogrim movement is beginning to develop there. This summer, if all goes according to plan, the Canadian, American and Mexican Kenim will initiative together a week-long intensive Hadracha seminar at the American camp in Liberty, NY. The Yedid Kvutza of Canadians and Americans (16 year olds) will then continue on to participate in the European Hadracha seminar in Bulgaria.
It has been a busy year for Shomrim and Shomrot. With this year marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the Kibbutz Movement, it is a perfect chance to reflect and take stock. The world around us continues to look so different from what we want to see and yet, there is a great passion and optimism in each of us as we look out into our community and see it strengthening. We know that to be a movement means to create both internal and external structures, we know that change requires building alternatives as well as fighting actively against what we seek to be rid of, and we know that meaningful change takes time. We are making great strides daily as we continue to bring reality in line with our vision of what the world should be. More and more of us are living our lives as Shomrim and Shomrot with confidence, and we understand that to continue to fight for our dreams is not only relevant, but crucial. The time is upon us to stand strong and assert ourselves as a meaningful force in society, and the future looks bright. We are proud and inspired to be part of this World Movement and we eagerly look forward to hearing from you.
Chazak Ve Ematz,
Hashomer Hatzair North America
Hashomer Hatzair North America