Monday, February 15, 2010

Open Letter to NMW 2010

The following is the text of a letter that Garin Tzedek sent to National Midwinter Convention in Austin, TX to be read out to the convention body.

"To the 2010 NMW Convention Body,

Garin Tzedek is a movement within Year Course started by a small group of seniors last year who wanted to bring Young Judaea back to the program. Our group embodies the ideals of tikkun olam, peer leadership and kehila that are so much a part of what makes Young Judaea unique. As the year progressed we began to realize that many of these principles are lacking in the current Year Course program.

At this pivotal moment for Year Course, when you have the ability to reshape this program, we hope you will take the opportunity to make this something all Judaeans can be proud of. The following are some ways we believe Year Course can be improved.

(a) Tiyulim- (consisting of overnight camping trips) should be reinstated. Not only is it an opportunity for participants to bond but also a chance to explore different areas of Israel. One big tiyul when participants first arrive in Israel should also be brought back.

(b) Recreation center in each section - There should be a centralized location open to all Year Coursers (where a madrich or shomer is not required) to hang out as an alternative to the local bar.

(c) Education - All yearcourse members should achieve a basic level of understanding regarding Israel, Judaism, and Zionism. Every yearcourse member has a different potential, but all individuals should be pushed to reach their own.

(d) Siyurim- Siyurim are a wonderful element of the program and are very often the highlight of the week. But they are not put into context. There should be some form of activity, discussion or background information before or after the Siyur.

(e) Kibbutz -Kibbutzim have historically been an influential aspect of the Year Course experience, and despite the fact that they no longer hold as much prominence in Israeli society, we maintain that there should still be a kibbutz option for Year Course chanichim.

(f) Optional intensive Ulpan track- participants should be given the option of joining a track for no extra charge that provides classes, activities or trips for anyone who wants to seriously pursue learning the language.

(g) Making Garin Tzedek an optional track- Garin Tzedek should be a formal track available to all Year Coursers to join at any point in the year. It is a garin for anyone interested in peer leadership and social action.

In general our suggestions revolve around three basic values: altruism (tikun olam), relationships/fraternity (cheverut), Zionism (tziyonut). Our structural suggestions are all minor in comparison with the ideals they represent. We have felt the absence of true social action outside of our garin activities and a half-hearted attempt at building groups (Kvutzot) on the program. To put it into a phrase, Year Course needs to reconnect with the movement (Young Judaea) in the future. We want to be a part of Year Course as a larger mission to a) build and improve Israel, b) individually mature, grow, and find our place within the larger Zionist movement and c) form lifelong bonds to maintain the brotherhood and sisterhood that are essential aspects to Judaism and Zionism.

We sincerely hope you take our suggestions into consideration.


Garin Tzedek"

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