Last month, representatives from 13 sniffim (branches) of Netzer Olami, the worldwide reform youth movement, met in Jerusalem for the annual Veidah.
The six days were spent hearing from speakers on Zionism, visiting Sderot and, more importantly, debating proposals that will affect the future of the movement.
It was inspiring to meet smaller sniffim and hear how they are pioneering the movement’s expansion – and to discover how lucky we are to be living and running a Jewish youth movement in the UK.
One motion in particular proposed jointly by the entire British contingent, RSY and LJY, caused a split between the sniffim.
If passed, it would make all events run by Netzer Olami vegetarian, so as not to contribute to the environmental damage caused by the meat industry.
The British sniffim see this as a vital way of enacting the movement’s pillar of tikkun olam (world repair).
Both movements have been vegetarian since 2009.
Concerns were raised regarded the Shnat gap-year programme, which people feared would diminish in size due to potential participants being put off by the idea of a year without meat. But Netzer does not seek to be a universal organisation.
It has an ideology.
For example, Netzer espouses Progressive Judaism.
That is bound to put some people off. So adopting one more ideological measure – for the sake of tikkun olam – may disappoint some but that in itself was not a reason for inaction.
Ultimately, it was decided Netzer Olami events other than Shnat would be vegetarian, and compulsory education on the meat industry’s impact on the environment would be run on all events. Although a small change, it’s an important step towards a worldwide vegetarian movement.
RSY and Australia then jointly proposed a motion that Netzer should create a framework to facilitate the process of Aliyah Nimshechet, continuing to enact reform Zionist ideology after moving to Israel, for bogrim of the movement, which was passed unanimously.
A va’ad (committee) was formed to work with the Netzer staff to create the framework.
The ideology marches on!
• Oli Whitehouse is an LJY bogrim (graduate)