Dear Siach Community,
Spring is in full gear now, and we can’t believe that in just ONE MONTH we will be meeting with so many of you at Ohalo Manor Hotel in Kibbutz Kinneret for the second gathering of the Siach network! The Siach Team is working hard on the final details to make sure you have a meaningful experience. In this edition of the newsletter, you can read about how the different geographic regional cohorts are continuing the conversations between conferences.
In addition to the upcoming conference, so much is happening in the Siach network these days! Have you heard about the new partnerships that have emerged between Siach members? Did you have a chance to listen to our webinar on the topic of gender segregation in the public sphere? Have you stopped to consider the tribal aspects of your Jewish identity and what that means for how we relate to others? The answers to all these questions and more are included in this month’s newsletter, so make sure to read through and see how our network is developing!
As always, wishing you the best,
The Siach Team – Judith Belasco, David Brown, and Limor Friedman
“It was a great privilege to meet a group of such passionate and talented leaders from across Europe and to hear of their inspiring work, grounded in Jewish values, yet impacting positively on people of many faiths and backgrounds all over the world. They are a living example of the Jewish renaissance happening in Europe and represent what I call a Judaism unafraid to engage with the world. I wish the members of Siach continued success in all they do.”
-Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks
Last week, the Israeli cohort met for an orientation day in Tel Aviv. It was great seeing everyone together, returning and first-time Siach members seamlessly molded into one solid group. Here, new Siach member, Gideon Sylvester, shares his take on the day:I have to confess that I was a little nervous as I entered the stunning building where our Israel delegation’s pre-Siach seminar was taking place. Would the day be interesting? How would “the new boy” get on with all the seasoned Siach participants? I need not have worried. After brief introductions, I quickly realized that I was in the midst of a warm, highly professional, and idealistic group.
Continue Reading “A Fresh Perspective on the Siach Network…”
By Judith Belasco, Director of Programs, Hazon
“Not an Israel Organization, But…” was our first Siach sponsored, community-wide event. The program explored the tensions around Israeli politics that have so polarized conversations that Jewish engagement groups whose missions are not specifically targeted toward Israel advocacy have come to experience any Israel-oriented work or conversation as a ‘third rail.’ Avoiding anything to do with Israel might be a good way to protect one’s organization or oneself â€” but is it right for the Jewish people? What about for those of us who strongly wish to include Israel among the other crucial pieces of Jewish identity our work touches?
The program drew upwards of 30 participants, mostly from groups working in the field along with a few folks from funding organizations. Programmed speakers came from Avodah, Limmud NY, Shalom Hartman North America, and New Israel Fund, with other participants from a range of social-action or Israel oriented groups and others working in the broader Jewish innovation sector. Roughly half were new or returning Siach participants.
By Ariella Sidelsky, New Israel Fund, Director of Strategic Partnerships
Three weeks ago, New Israel Fund (NIF) took out ads in the New York Times and the Forward, as part of a million dollar matching gift campaign funded by a longtime donor. The ads featured a news photo of a billboard in Jerusalem: a poster of a woman that had been defaced by ultra-Orthodox residents, and the words “What happens when extremism crowds our equality and democracy in Israel.” The campaign met with overwhelmingly positive responses, but there were also several irate ones. Nobody argued with the accuracy and importance of the problems the ad raised; at issue was the venue, a non-Jewish (and at least to some minds, anti-Israel) publication. One response posted on our Facebook page read: “On Erev Yom HaShoah, this is the image that the New Israel Fund wishes to convey to the American public about Israel?!” In short, what is known in Jewish-American as “a shanda before the goyim.”
By Yonatan Glaser, Director, B’Tzedek, (and Manager of the joint initiative in India), and Nir Lahav, Director, Project T.E.N. and the Director of Young Activism Unit, The Jewish Agency For Israel
It is with great excitement that the Jewish Agency’s Project T.E.N. and B’Tzedek recently announced their partnership to create a volunteer center for service learning and international development in India. The Directors of T.E.N. (Nir Lahav) and B’Tzedek (Yonatan Glaser) met for the first time at Siach. The T.E.N.-B’Tzedek center will serve Jewish young adults from around the Jewish world (including Siach’s ‘Israel, North America and Europe’ formulation). The program will embody and build Jewish peoplehood, engage in service projects based on the insights and principles of international development, and deepen and carry forward the agenda of Tikkun Olam. It will launch with the first cohort on August 6, 2012.
By Sybil Sanchez, Director, COEJL
When it came time to decide whether to attend the first Siach conference, I needed some convincing. I wasn’t sure what the outcome or my role would be, or how cliquey or ‘insider’ the conversation would feel in nature. Yet, as I watched it come together and heard who else was going, I ultimately decided to go. At times, the conference did in fact feel a little cliquey or like we were spending a lot of time navel-gazing, but we also had some very important and dynamic conversations and I made some useful connections.
What’s interesting is the impact Siach has had on me long after the fact. I knew that having a conversation about having conversations, networking in order to better network, and taking time out to identify more of our collective views were inherently valuable exercises. What I didn’t foresee was the tangible impact that these kinds of discussions would have on me and my own organization in such a short period of time.
We hope that you find this newsletter as meaningful and inspirational as we did, and we would love to hear from you.
- Have updates about your social justice and environmental work?
- Want to be the next newsletter’s featured partnership?
- Do you have a mazal tov announcement that you would like to share with the rest of the Siach community?
- Would you like to contribute an article to the next edition of the newsletter?
Please email us at Siach@heschel.org.il to share!