by Tash Shaw
The cuddles, tears and long extended goodbyes were a familiar sight for airport staff as 13 RSY-Netzer leaders boarded a flight to Israel – excited to start on Shnat Netzer, our gap year programme.
Yet the usual concerns of how to whittle down a year’s worth of belongings into 20kg and arranging phones and bank accounts were accompanied by the ongoing news of dozens of Israelis and Palestinians being killed and seriously wounded in attacks recently.
Organising a programme around times of security concerns unfortunately isn’t a first for RSY-Netzer or our partners.
We’ve had groups on Shnat and Israel Tour during periods of unrest, including during the second Intifada and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Every year our participants experience something unique and the years when Israel is in the headlines are no different.
Our programme adapts, keeping security as the highest priority, but being in Israel during these times also gives our participants an insight and education into the real-life issues that Israelis have to deal with on an all too regular basis.
We support Israel in times of struggle as well as calm.
As proud Zionists, we continually engage with Israel, fostering a deep connection to the state in all its complexities.
There is never a question of our participants’ commitment and relationship with Israel and not one person considered pulling out of the programme because of the situation this year.
Shnat Netzer is an exciting, challenging and stimulating way to spend a year in Israel and to be part of a youth movement that means so much to so many in our community.
Why have we sent our shnatties to Israel in 2015? Why we sent them to Israel in 2014, 2013, 2003 and 1983. We have and always will.
• Tash Shaw is a RSY-Netzer movement worker