Young Zionist

An Active Activist Movement

Josh Marks, FZY Rakaz Darom 2017/18, explains how FZY is an active/activist movement.

Trump and Jerusalem: The views from our members

FZY is a pluralist youth movement. We have as many different Zionist opinions as we have members (if not more). In light of recent news about President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, we wanted to share with you a selection of ideas and opinions, as broad and as thoughtful as our members are.

A missed opportunity but not the end of the world

From my dinner table, watching the US President announce that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel I could hear the sounds of American flags burning the world over.

The announcement was both remarkable and a non-story. Presidents G.W Bush, Obama and Trump had all before taking office publicly stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The Russian foreign ministry announced in April they recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and now the Czech Republic and the Philippines are holding a similar position. What is remarkable as no US President has said that as President, making it official US foreign policy.

Jerusalem has been, since the 1949 armistice the capital of Israel as defined by Israel as a sovereign state. All the key factors that make a city a capital e.g seat of legislature and executive exist in Jerusalem. Beyond that, Jews have been the owners and settlers of Jerusalemite lands from as early as the time of Joshua.

I Chronicles explains that Joshua bought the site of the Temple Mount for 600 gold shekels (Verses 21:22-22:1). We don’t just have, as Jews a right to live in Jerusalem by conquest, but by recorded financial transactions that go from Joshua to Moses Montefiore buying the area that became Mishkenot Sha’ananim and more.

The US, Russian and other countries recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a logical recondition of the status quo.

Crucially, all the recognitions have had the proviso that it not change the status quo of the Temple Mount or prejudice the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump also made clear that while he recognised Jerusalem was the capital, its exact borders were not fixed. This leaves it clearly open for the expected deal to be Israel retaining sovereignty over West Jerusalem and Jerusalemite settlements like Ma’ale Adumim and the Palestinians getting East Jerusalem neighbourhoods as a capital. As for the sovereignty of the Old City, squaring that circle will be tricky to say the least.

Yet, the announcement by the US President could have been more, if it had been paired with clear Israeli concessions. This would have been the perfect time for the Israeli government to announce a moratorium on West Bank construction (with the exception of the Amona relocation). Then, trying to watch the international reaction being universally against the Jerusalem recognition would be fascinating, as the one issue the international community cares about is settlements. Whether justified or not, the UN and regional powers would have been on much weaker ground contemning the move as they would ahem seen clear Israeli concessions, and Israel still gets the Jerusalem recognition it has dreamed of.

Trump should have made that deal, but for reasons best know to him, he made a decision which was hugely divisive and benefits Israel infinitely more that it does his Arab allies or the Palestinians.

Dr. Husam S. Zomlot, the PLO’s representative in the US said yesterday ‘We recognise Israel on 78% of our land’. Unless this attitude towards Israel’s existence changes, even dividing Jerusalem won’t ensure there is lasting peace between Israeli’s and Palestinians.

Jerusalem compromises are still possible, Israel has in the past provided reparations to displaced Old City families after the 1967 war. Doing so for displaced Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem would be doable as well, subject to new free housing provided to the displaced. As for the reparations money, if the Israeli’s conceded on some East Jerusalem settlers the International community would happily foot the bill.

Peace is still possible, hard decisions and compromises must be made by Israelis and Palestinians. The US announcement on Jerusalem has not changed anything in that regard.

Yes to Jerusalem (No to Trump)

The Zionist movement is no stranger to controversy. Though its goal – summed up in FZY’s vision of the Jewish People living in peace in the State of Israel as one nation and as a light unto the nations – is an admirable one, it is an enormous understatement to say that there have been lapses in ideological clarity along the way.

One such lapse belongs to Herzl, the often credited visionary of the Zionist movement and of the Judenstaat, the Jewish State. One of his strategies for the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Eretz Yisrael, protected by law, required the support of the Ottoman Empire, under whose jurisdiction the land fell. Europe’s Jews would pay off the Ottoman Empire’s huge debt in return for the land and the establishment of a Jewish State therein. In 1901, after endless loose ends and raised funds, Herzl met with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to persuade him towards a deal. The meeting was only partially fruitful: the Sultan hoped that Herzl would improve the Ottoman Empire’s poor reputation during the period. Herzl, a journalist, would comply.

Herzl’s positive write-up of the Ottoman Empire was an implicit whitewash of Hamid’s massacre of unto 300,000 Armenians just five years previously. In extending a hand to Hamid, Herzl ignited fury within the Zionist movement. Bernard Lazare, another Zionist, resigned from the Zionist Committee in protest: if the history of the Jewish People was written in blood, how could Herzl “extend a welcoming hand to murderers”?

Fast forward. It’s 2017, and the President of the USA has rightfully recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It shouldn’t be such huge news. Surely, the greater shock should be that the USA has long operated a de facto embassy to Palestine in West Jerusalem. So do France, Italy and Greece. Surely there should be little controversy in these nations recognising Jerusalem as an Israeli city if they already recognise its uncontested areas as Palestinian? Indeed, it was not that long ago that the BBC listed the capital of Palestine as Jerusalem, but failed to list the capital of Israel. UNESCO’s frequent challenge to the city’s Jewish heritage is well covered. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city should be unanimously recognised and respected.

So yes. Yes to Jerusalem. Yes to recognising the rightful capital of the State of Israel, where Jews have lived since always. (The only time there was no Jewish presence in the Old City was between 1948-67, when Jordan razed Jewish settlements there to the ground.)

But no to Trump. No to Trump. No to Trump.

The Zionist Movement recognised women’s suffrage in 1898, long before women could vote in the US or in Europe. It should reject the man who bragged of sexual assault and who is embroiled in over fifteen separate allegations thereof.

The Zionist Movement cannot countenance a President who, when running for President, Tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton with the caption “most corrupt candidate ever”. The caption appeared blazoned across bank notes and in the shape of a Magen David, a clear antisemitic slur.

The Zionist Movement should reject the man who called Jon Stewart Jonathan Leibowitz, drawing attention to his Jewish heritage. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who refused to disavow David Duke, the white supremacist and former head of the Ku Klux Klan. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who imposed a travel ban on people for their ethnicity or faith, even when those people may have been fleeing violence or death. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who has defended violent neo-Nazi rallies under the guise of their entitlement to opinions.

Herzl slipped up when he defended Sultan Hamid II. Though we should recognise the integral centrality of Jerusalem to the Zionist principle – the Land of Zion and of Jerusalem, according to our anthem – we should reject fully Trump’s involvement in the process.

Trump and the Jerusalem Embassy

U.S. president Donald Trump’s recent decision to relocate the nation’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has created a great deal of controversy throughout both the Middle East and the international community. The schism between the state of Israel and the quasi-official Palestinian organisations which lay claim to the same territory has been clear for the duration of the Jewish nation’s official 69 year existence, and one must acknowledge that similar heightened periods of contention have often been inconsequential with regard to their effect on remedying this confrontational relationship. Living as a Jew in Britain and attending a school where opinions towards the state of Israel are generally apathetic or inherently negative, one must ask the essential question of why the British media generally adopts a similarly harsh attitude towards Zionism.

The overwhelming majority of the British population cannot judge Israel unequivocally due to their inability to view the country for themselves. The general public must therefore view Israel and the conflict that surrounds and occasionally engulfs it through the lens of the British media and – with increasing frequency – the views of major politicians. These two sources of information are intrinsically linked, with politically polarising major newspapers such as the Labour-oriented Guardian and the often brash Daily Mail usually aligning themselves with the personal views of the respective party leaders whom they support. The relevance of this to public opinion towards Israel is more apparent than ever, with the British media becoming increasingly left wing as a response to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is a self-proclaimed supporter of a Palestinian state, and inherently opposes Zionism more than any other politician in recent memory. His bold publicity machine has galvanised the youth of Britain to oppose Zionism, and the left wing press’ often biased coverage of Israel’s conflicts with the disgruntled Muslim population living in the area has simply accentuated this process.

In order to understand the significance of foreign powers’ actions in what would otherwise be a localised dispute (the physical magnitude of the so-called ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ is insignificant when compared to that of other global hostilities), one must study its roots. The principle of Zionism – the belief that the area specified in the Torah which extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea should be recognised as a sovereign Jewish state – was legitimised by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in 1917. The conditions under which the retrospectively named ‘Balfour Declaration’ was created were undoubtedly dubious, as British diplomats used Chaim Weizmann’s movement as a pawn in their power struggle with France following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Declaration is often hailed as a key moment in Israel’s history, although the unbecoming reality was that it was simply used as a ploy to destabilise the French colonial claim to neighbouring Syria, and that fundamental British political support for Zionism was no more entrenched than promises that it made to Feisal of Mecca, political leader of the Arab Revolt which had overthrown the Ottomans. The turmoil created when the British government failed to honour any of the promises it had made (to either the Arabs or the Jews) isolated all of the aforementioned parties, and was arguably the defining cause of the deterioration of modern relations between the Jewish and Arab worlds (this of course excludes fundamental religious opposition).

The very existence of the Jewish state is contentious, as was evidenced by the great opposition faced by Zionists in the United Nations in the lead-up to the organisation officially recognising its sovereignty in 1948. The nature of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours dictates that both sides often refuse to negotiate directly with each other, and this has had a profound effect on international diplomacy ever since the early 1970s. This particular time-frame is especially relevant to today’s U.S Embassy crisis, as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s initiation of ‘shuttle diplomacy’ – whereby he would act as an intermediary between Israeli and Arab negotiating parties – following the Yom Kippur War of 1973 cemented the Americans’ place as the primary external influence on Israel’s foreign policy. The U.S. retains that position to this day, and this is the fundamental reason why President Trump’s (arguably the most pro-Israel première this century) decision to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem is of such great importance. In other words, the American decision to unanimously recognise Israel’s true capital may mark an essential turning point in international relations towards Zionism and Judaism as a whole. While much of the British media has criticised Trump for igniting tensions between Israel and pro-Palestinian groups, there is a compelling argument to suggest that any hopes of a two-state solution to the conflict are ill-conceived, and that while the President’s actions have lacked nuance and appeared as callous towards the Muslim world, his decisiveness will hopefully propel the conflict towards a final peace and end the current stagnation of the process.

A statement that’s pushed the boundaries

The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump declared on Wednesday that “it is officially time to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” as he prepares to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a statement that has already started to have huge implications. Jerusalem is one of the most religious places in the world which holds holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians hence the reason declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital is so controversial. Just a day after Trumps speech conflicts have started to reemerge between Israel and Palestine with 31 Palestinians being wounded in clashes in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after protestors were setting fire to tyres and throwing stones at Israeli troops.

Mr Trump is no stranger to controversy and his latest statement has provided just that. Met with obvious support from Bibi and Zionists alike due to a major world power showing clear support for Israel it has not been so popular on the other side. Whilst Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to Mr Trump, on the Palestinian side Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas called for a “day of rage” on Friday and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”. In addition to this the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Trump was “throwing the region in to a ring of fire”.

In my personal opinion I do not agree with Trumps statement. Whilst it is well known Trump is an established advocate for Israel I feel even this statement have pushed the boundaries. I fear that already implications are being felt with riots and protests starting to emerge which is obviously not healthy for a region as fragile as the middle east . Personally asa zionist whilst I feel the support for Jerusalem and Israel from a major world power is extremely promising for Trump to publicly declare that Jerusalem was Israels capital and that is the reason he is moving his embassy there was unnecessary and has already started to cause more problems than it will solve and if I was an Israeli citizen it would be something I would be fearing a lot more.

Will it get the two sides sitting round the table?

Wow, what a day. As I sat around a kitchen table with some friends watching President Trumps’ speech I thought to myself is this what it felt like in 1947 on the 29th of November? As people waited for the votes form the United Nations on the partition plan of British Palestine. We waited in anticipation and then the President made the announcement that he had, ‘determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.’ The room let out a sigh of relief. It’s amazing to think that 70 years ago the United States was the first country to recognise Israel as a sovereign nation and now 70 years later it’s the first country to recognise Jerusalem as her capital. My personal view is that America and indeed Britain should move their embassies to Israel. I would consider myself centre left on the political spectrum in Israel and pray for peace frequently however, the notion that Israel will give up West Jerusalem in any future peace deal is simply wrong in my opinion. I would continue to advocate for peace and a two-state solution, with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of a newly formed Palestinian state. I think Trump’s move brings up deeper and much more complex issues around borders and land, which I won’t address now, but given that Israel has its Parliament (Knesset), Supreme Court and official residences of the Prime Minister and President I think it would be foolish to think Israel is moving anywhere. A rather frequent argument I’ve heard on LBC today is that it is a barrier to peace. I think the opposite, we haven’t seen real peace talks since 2000 at Camp David and I think such a bold statement from President Trump will hopefully get the two sides to sit down at a table and begin to try and make long lasting peace. However, unfortunately at the time of writing this I saw a notification form Haaretz confirming that Israel has struck targets in Gaza after Gaza launched a rocket this afternoon. My current worry is that before we can get both sides around a negotiating table this could turn into rocket fire and casualties on both sides. So my departing message is to pray for a peaceful end to the conflict but also that the situation doesn’t escalate any further.

Has there even been any real shift?

Trump’s midweek announcement that Jerusalem is to be recognised as Israel’s capital was not a fundamental ideological shift, but an acknowledgement of a decades-old political reality. Trump’s predecessors insisted that the status of Jerusalem was an issue for the future, with Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama repeatedly delaying the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Trump, however, has delivered a long overdue change in policy which will see the relocation of the American embassy to a city which has served as Israel’s capital since the country’s establishment.

The move has been construed by many as an abandonment by Trump of his “ultimate deal”; the declaration will please AIPAC, it is argued, but by further unbalancing peace talks it will only jeopardise Palestinian cooperation. The announcement, however, is an acceptance that there are far more challenging obstacles to a two state solution; the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the continued existence of armed terror groups in Gaza, and the question of Palestinian refugees are all of far greater importance. The 1947 “corpus separatum” proposal for Jerusalem has been all but discarded by the international community, and no peace agreement would involve the removal of Israeli sovereignty over the Western half of the city. In proclaiming her disagreement with Trump’s announcement, Theresa May reaffirmed the British position that Jerusalem should be the “shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states”. But Trump has made no judgement on the specific boundaries of the city, with the US president stopping far short of Netanyahu’s “eternal and undivided” rhetoric. Trump’s announcement cannot, therefore, be interpreted as an endorsement of settlement construction in East Jerusalem (over which Israel’s 1980 annexation remains unrecognised), nor does it remove the issue of Jerusalem from the negotiating table altogether, with the status of East Jerusalem and the Old City still subject to future discussion.

Home to the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court, Jerusalem has, since December 1948, been Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem’s administrative borders are of little historic or religious significance, and Israel’s claim to the entirety of the city is, at best, questionable. But Trump is merely acknowledging the reality, and in doing so, delivers a long overdue break with convention.

Trump acknowledging reality

Trump’s midweek announcement that Jerusalem is to be recognised as Israel’s capital was not a fundamental ideological shift, but an acknowledgement of a decades-old political reality. Trump’s predecessors insisted that the status of Jerusalem was an issue for the future, with Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama repeatedly delaying the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Trump, however, has delivered a long overdue change in policy which will see the relocation of the American embassy to a city which has served as Israel’s capital since the country’s establishment.

The move has been construed by many as an abandonment by Trump of his “ultimate deal”; the declaration will please AIPAC, it is argued, but by further unbalancing peace talks it will only jeopardise Palestinian cooperation. The announcement, however, is an acceptance that there are far more challenging obstacles to a two state solution; the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the continued existence of armed terror groups in Gaza, and the question of Palestinian refugees are all of far greater importance. The 1947 “corpus separatum” proposal for Jerusalem has been all but discarded by the international community, and no peace agreement would involve the removal of Israeli sovereignty over the Western half of the city. In proclaiming her disagreement with Trump’s announcement, Theresa May reaffirmed the British position that Jerusalem should be the “shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states”. But Trump has made no judgement on the specific boundaries of the city, with the US president stopping far short of Netanyahu’s “eternal and undivided” rhetoric. Trump’s announcement cannot, therefore, be interpreted as an endorsement of settlement construction in East Jerusalem (over which Israel’s 1980 annexation remains unrecognised), nor does it remove the issue of Jerusalem from the negotiating table altogether, with the status of East Jerusalem and the Old City still subject to future discussion.

Home to the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court, Jerusalem has, since December 1948, been Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem’s administrative borders are of little historic or religious significance, and Israel’s claim to the entirety of the city is, at best, questionable. But Trump is merely acknowledging the reality, and in doing so, delivers a long overdue break with convention.

Logic Vs Emotion

Critics of this measure argue that President Trump is now approving of Israeli ‘occupation’. Ever since the creation of the state of Israel, West Jerusalem has been part of the state of Israel. Only since 1967 has the issue of Jerusalem become such as contentious one, with the world claiming that Israel has ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem ever since. Therefore, the fact that West Jerusalem (the most likely location of the new US embassy) is not even contested territory, legitimizes any claim that Donald Trump is condoning Israeli occupation. Furthermore, the continued denial by other countries of the right of Israel to choose its own capital; is incongruous with every other nation in the world which has the prerogative to do so. Jerusalem is the location of the Israeli legislature (the Knesset), the Israeli Supreme Court, the homes of the Israeli President and Prime Minister as well as the location of almost every Israeli government agency. Consequently, it would be irrational for the Israeli capital to be anywhere but Jerusalem and a denial of Israel’s ability to do so would be a continuation of a complete double-standard against Israel. Fundamentally, I would contend that the condemnation of Trump’s action rather than being based on an objection to the measure to move the embassy, is more of a criticism of the symbolic message of this decision. This message is one that world leaders have either not yet realised or refuse to admit to themselves, which is that no peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will ever result in Israel not have sovereignty (or at least joined sovereignty) over Jerusalem. Therefore, whilst the world anxiously awaits to see whether this action of President Trump may have just catalysed the start of a third intifada as well as the outcome of the meetings of the UN Security Council and the Arab League on the issue this weekend, hopefully the world will put logic above emotions.

BogSem in Budapest: Legacy of Herzl

Leo BroshWritten by Leo Brosh, an FZY Boger

Theodore Herzl is a legend within the millennia-old movement to return the exiles of Judea and re-establish our national home in the Land of Israel.

For the first time in FZY’s 107-year history, the Bogrim Seminar (BogSem) took place outside the UK, in Budapest.

Budapest is where Herzl was born, in what is now the complex of one of the largest synagogues in the world. 120 years ago a man was born who lit the fire of political Zionism which had been on a quiet simmer for too long.

He famously wrote:

“It goes without saying that the Jewish people can have no other goal than Palestine and that, whatever the fate of the proposition may be, our attitude toward the land of our fathers is and shall remain unchangeable.”

Today FZY, a movement born just thirteen years after the first Zionist Congress, returned to pay respects to the dream of Herzl and show that the fire he breathed into Zionism remains burning fiercely in the moment that fights to pursue his dream.

BogSem was longer than normal, starting with an early morning flight to Hungary and then a bus to our site in central Budapest.

Before long, we were engrossed in the classic FZY Shabbat, the best kind of Shabbat a person can have.

After the full array of services, we went to a kosher restaurant to eat. In doing so, we raised the roof and the smiles of the restaurant and the other diners with our energy and ruach. It was truly amazing to be a part of.

The Oneg and kumzits were the funniest in a long time: full of games, challenges, banter and ‘high kicks’!

Shabbat day began with services and Open Spaces which were focused on Magen of the Jewish people, whether on campus or in the media. Lunch again was a powerhouse of ruach where even the older diners were clapping and singing to our classic Shira.

An afternoon of peulot and food culminated in Havdallah. We waived goodbye to a unique FZY Shabbat and embraced the new week.

That new week began with us enjoying all the delights Budapest had to offer be it food, drink or showers!

Sunday was supposed to be a day of touring Jewish Budapest. Instead our contingency plans kicked in and we went riding scooters around the city, going over bridges, past palaces and in between bemused locals and tourists.

We could not get enough but sadly it was necessary to move on and have lunch with our Hungarian compatriots to learn more about their lives. During a cultural exchange with food and conversation between British and Hungarian Jews, Tarbut was brought to the forefront in a way we have never done before as a movement.

Herzl would have been proud today of the fact that not only is there a State of Israel, but that Zionists are thriving and working continuous both within and outside of Israel to make the world a better place (Tzedakah).

While this trip did not conclude with us our aliyot to Israel, the commitment of the Bogrim to do more for the movement, to inspire, to lead and to live out our values was far greater than a standard British BogSem.

Leaving Budapest was sad as we knew we needed to return to our ordinary lives at work or university. However, we left with a new appreciation for Hungary, a strong relationship between Bogrim and a renewed passion for the movement we believe so passionately about.

Herzl, I’m sure, would have been proud.

BogSem in Budapest

Balfour 100

Joe Woolf, FZY Mazkir 2017/18, gives a greater insight into the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration

Celebrating Balfour

Josh Marks, FZY Movement Worker 2017/18 takes a closer look at the sixty-seven words that paved the way for a Jewish State

Today, 2 November, marks the centenary of The Balfour Declaration. On a scrap of paper no larger than A5, Lord Arthur Balfour dictates the all-important sixty-seven words to Lord Walter Rothschild:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

One hundred years later, the letter has become a contentious marker of the fine line that Israel has had to tread as an independent, democratic state, Jewish in nature and responsible also for its non-Jewish inhabitants. In an atmosphere of soundbite comments, hot-headed and short on nuance, here is an almost word-by-word of the promises that Lord Balfour makes, and an analysis of their respective successes.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…

This is the easy bit. Note how the Conservative Balfour speaks on behalf of the Government, outlining the stance taken by the Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The coalition was broadly echoing an opinion that the Labour party had endorsed just three months earlier in their War Aims Memorandum. That means that support for Zionism was truly a cross-party matter.

…and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…

Did they? On the one hand, the British Mandate for Palestine had the establishment of a Jewish home as a stated aim, recognised by the League of Nations. It facilitated the establishment of the Jewish Agency and oversaw an estimated 360,000 legal Jewish migrants between 1920 and 1945.

On the other hand, the British Mandate in Palestine allotted 87,500 acres of land to Arabs to be cultivated and only 4,250 to Jews. A 1939 White Paper forbade land sales to Jews in 95% of mandatory Palestine.

…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…

British Jew Herbert Samuel, the first High Commissioner of Palestine, limited Jewish immigration to protect ‘the interests of the present population’. In 1980, the Jerusalem Law ‘secures rights of members of all religions’. All Orthodox religious ceremonies performed in Israel, under any religious auspice, are recognised. The Basic Law (1992), which outlines the ‘values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state’, protects the lives, bodies and dignities of all people. There have been two Arab judges on the Supreme Court of Israel.

After gaining control of the West Bank in 1967, Israel guaranteed Muslim access to mosques and Christian access to churches. The Israeli Defense Forces foiled a Jewish attempt to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and continues to protect this site from attacks by non-Muslims. The city of Jerusalem has given financial support to religious Muslim activities.

There is still some way to go for this promise to be realised. All 137 official designated holy sites recognised by Israel are Jewish, and there is markedly less civil liberty guaranteed in the areas that fall under the governance of the Palestinian Authority. In spite of that, there is de facto recognition of other faiths and their religious rights, as demonstrated.

…or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Unfortunately, this was the promise that was hardest for Balfour to ensure. In the decade that followed Israel’s declaration of independence, approximately 850,000 Jews were persecuted, expelled or evacuated from Arab and Muslim countries. In 1948, there were approx. 35,000 Jews in Libya. Today there are none. In 1948, there were approx. 135,000 Jews in Iraq. Today there are 5. In 1948, there were approx. 30,000 Jews in Syria. In 2014, there were just 17.

To conclude, then, we should celebrate with pride the Balfour Declaration, with its historic promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. We should be unapologetically proud of the role that young people played in establishing a Nation-State for a displaced people. And whilst we should note that some promises remain unfulfilled, we should continue to struggle towards the ‘infinite dream’ that is Herzl’s Zionism, and that is beautifully and succinctly summarised in Balfour’s sixty-seven words.

Succot & Bar Kochba

Joe Woolf: Mazkir 2017/18

Reflections on Netina 2017

By Issie Levin

Issie LevinIssie has just returned back to the UK after being a participant on Netina, FZY’s new social action and leadership Kedma summer programme in Ghana in partnership with Tzedek.

I was lucky enough to spend the past three weeks as part of 18 Brits on an FZY and Tzedek UK organised, social action trip to Tamale in the North of Ghana leading and preparing a summer camp for 120 local children in the rural village of Nyankpala. Our efforts had an educational focus, with each day themed on issues such as: Sanitation, Environment, Dreams & Ambitions, Identity and many more. We worked alongside 16 local Ghanaian youth leaders, simultaneously teaching them leadership skills while educating the children on issues which are rarely brought up within their homes or at school due to a more limiting, traditional approach towards these kids’ future. Through a range of games, songs, sports, artwork and much more the children were able to learn interactively, creating a fun yet serious learning atmosphere across camp.

Netina - 2However, the immense poverty within communities such as Nyankpala were clearly at the forefront of our minds during our time there. A low supply of clean water from the pump where the children would be expected to wash their hands, children without shoes and the littered grounds were just a couple of the obvious challenges we were not used to facing and had to adapt to. When not at camp, we were encouraged to question and ponder on the most effective way to partake in social action projects. Frequently, a couple of us would vocally doubt the relevance and effectiveness of our work, questioning whether a few songs and games were all these kids were absorbing and whether this was a satisfactory outcome to the project. Words such as ‘voluntourism’ in particular stuck in my head at times as we admired the magnificent elephants of Mole National Park and the beautiful monuments and buildings, within Accra (the capital city), in which we could compare and see where government funding was aimed at. The fact the kids we led were unlikely to have ever had the opportunity to appreciate theses sights was certainly thought provoking. These points were challenging, I began to doubt, despite the fact I was loving every minute spent leading the kids, to what extent we seriously impacting this community, and if we were, was it more harmful than beneficial?

NetinaAs the camp and relationships with the kids progressed I began to appreciate further the intelligence of the kids who advanced and learnt, watching them gain in confidence and putting into place more and more ideas which we’d taught them. I came to the conclusion, with the help of fierce debate and discussion, that trying to lay the groundwork for a minor, yet sustainable difference is better than doing nothing at all. Undoubtedly, education has to be the focus for developing countries such as Ghana and although we (as a group of 18) may never clearly see how effective our programme was in making a difference, we can hope we learnt a small helping hand towards that larger shift in attitude. We, and a number of Ghanaians that we spoke to, hope that the ambitions of the future generations within these countries will be prioritised and nurtured. Hopefully, these countries can continue to enhance on their developing rights, primarily to provide successful education across the whole country, especially deprived areas outside Accra. Throughout this trip my perspective has shifted in terms of a range of topics, by tolerating and appreciating the views of others more seriously than previously, I was able to understand and even strengthen my position on widespread issues that were discussed. I believe that this trip challenged me significantly in numerous ways. It allowed me to partially burst my bubble of privilege and self-importance in order to appreciate the differences in lives, cultures and views of others (both Ghanaian and British) and how best we can work together in order to allow countries, like Ghana, to naturally evolve and progress for the better. This may act as an alternative to just throwing money and resources unsustainably at an area, potentially leading to more wealth & social inequality and damage in the long term.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the 17 loving people who spent the past three weeks challenging and supporting me, or the wonderful and optimistic Nyankpala community for their welcome and enthusiasm.

Thoughts from the FZY Mazkirim: Outgoing & Incoming

Noah Levy: FZY Mazkir 2016/17

Noah LevyMy very first Shabbat with FZY was around 7 and a half years ago, FZY Israel tour orientation of 2010. I was perplexed, didn’t have much belonging, had very few friends, it’s fair to say it was a puzzling time for me; then I had to choose which service to go to. Rumours going around that the orthodox one is best because you can sit at the back and do nothing, others suggesting the alternative service because they meditate, someone else suggested reform because ‘it’s just a sing along’. Flash forward to last Shabbat, my final FZY Shabbat, Kesher 2017, I was lucky enough to sit in on three fully functioning services led by madrichim whose sole aim was to offer our chanichim different ways to celebrate Shabbat. I danced in a circle in the orthodox explanatory service, I partook in a discussion about feminism within Judaism in the alternative discussion based service, and I harmonised melodies in the reform service, albeit not very well. Then I sat in the dining hall and was simply overwhelmed by the sound of Shabbat songs sung by people from such diverse backgrounds; people from up north, people from London, Essex, Scotland, the south coast, Israel and even the security guard from Hungary sang along. This is what FZY is all about, not necessarily identifying as a type of Jew, but as a Jew.

I’d like to share with you three areas of the movement that I believe we have excelled in over the past year: inclusion, chinuch and new opportunities.

Firstly, inclusion. FZY at its pinnacle is a youth movement, a group of people who come together to celebrate their Jewish and Zionist identities. But this year, we have sought to go beyond that, we have made it a priority to do what we can to ensure we are being as inclusive as possible. Whether that is through training sessions with Keshet UK, or having pre-camp sessions about the language we use, or through the changes we are making to our application forms, we are proactive in seeking to celebrate identities rather than just accept them. One of my fondest memories of the year has got to be Veida; yeah, numbers aren’t quite the same as they were several years ago, but the quality of debate and passion of our members is second to none. But this year we introduced a ‘Veida Buddy System’ to partner experienced members, with the younger members. Because of this, we had every single member participating in debate. But what we should really be proud of, is the fact that one of the youngest members present at Veida put forward a motion to make mental health training mandatory on every pre-camp, it passed unanimously. That is the type of atmosphere we are creating at FZY, one where we empower our youngest to speak, and one where we are starting conversations about things that young people should be talking about.

The second thing that I believe FZY has excelled at this year, is the level of chinuch that we provide. Remembering that FZY is pluralist not only religiously but also politically, this year we have engaged with a number of new practical ways to explore Judaism, Zionism and Israel. On Israel tour, we created a brand-new conflict seminar, where we brought together professionals from Yachad and StandWithUs to provide expert education, which our Madrichim helped to facilitate. For our participants, it was a totally new opportunity to engage with Israel in a challenging and innovative way. At Veida we were also mandated to work with organisations who educate on minorities in Israel and who focus on co-existence projects. And on Kesher – Summer Camp – we transported Chanichim each day to different places in Israel. Over the fortnight, we ran activities that were deeply thoughtful, engaging not just with Israel and Jewish identity, but also with how these themes overlap with social media, selfies, self-esteem, self-image, and growing up as Zionist millennials. These are just a couple of examples of high level education from the past year.

The third area of FZY that has been massively strengthened is our new programmes. Hadracha aleph, for the year group after tour, was totally revamped this year. It now intensely focuses on our movement, and is tailored to educate Madrichim on this day and age. We had almost 100 participants across the country, just one of the many new mini FZY communities that we’ve built. But this year we also offered a new leadership opportunity to the UK community through Diller Teens, something that my successor will speak about later on. This summer however, my focus has been on Netina, our brand new social action project with Tzedek. Acting on Jewish values, 16 fantastic madrichim are running a 2-week summer camp in Nyankpala, northern Ghana. New opportunities such as Netina and Diller are enabling our members to solidify their FZY identity, at the same time as celebrating and acting on Jewish values.

This year has been great fun. For any ex movement workers in the room I’m sure you’ll agree, leaving movement work is not only a huge relief, but one also carries a great deal of pride that you’ve been able to shape the movement that you love in so many different ways. But for me, this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for those who helped me get here, those at UJS who helped me develop myself on campus, UJIA who provided me with hadracha, and everyone who was a part of my FZY journey. However, I want to make special reference to the outgoing movement team, Leo and Charlie. You both made the decision to dedicate two years of your life to this movement, and there have been challenges, but you’ve made it! On behalf of the movement, a massive thank you and Kol hakavod, and from me, I couldn’t have had a better team! Leo, we go back as mates for many years and we’ve followed the same FZY journey and to be honest, I’m still a bit shocked that we both ended up here, but it has been special. Charlie, you have been an absolute rock in the office, whenever I’ve needed a bit of sense and logic, you’ve slapped it into me, and for that, and everything else, I am incredibly grateful.

Dagan, shlichut is about directly implementing Israel into everything we do, you have done that plus more and you’ve always offered a positive approach and consistent reality checks for when I go off on one. Mor, although you aren’t here, the same goes for you and I know that you are going to work wonders next year as a campus shaliach. Emma Kimche and Emma Nagli, the Emmas, I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for you both, and for the care you have for FZY. And there is one more person who I wold like to thank and that is Joel, I won’t delve into detail, but FZY is incredibly lucky to have you, not only as an employee, but also as a mentor for all movement workers.

I must say, I am a little jealous of next year’s team. Things are really looking up for FZY, and I am fully confident that valuable partnerships will be developed and chinuch provisions increased. The movement is in strong hands and I am excited to see what you will achieve.

I found myself at that Israel Tour orientation in 2010 because I wasn’t ‘frum’ enough for BA and I was too ‘frum’ for habo (that’s a mancunian mentality by the way), but from this there is actually a profound message. FZY brings people together who may not have an established identity, but when people come together they celebrate what is mutual, and within FZY that mutual thing will always be Judaism, Israel and Zionism, in so many different ways. The movement that’s provided Abba Eban, Chaim Herzog, Sasha Tal Gold and Paul Lenga, it has been an honour to be its Mazkir.

 

Joe Woolf: FZY Mazkir 2017/18

Joe WoolfThis year, I truly believe is an exciting year for FZY. With various changes to our programmes, restructuring of our team and significant, historic events both for FZY and for Israel – the next year is going to be a jam-packed and memorable one.

First things first – Our vision. Together with the rest of the incoming movement team and with the help of the previous team, our members and of course Joel I want to present to you our vision for the movement. This is a vision based on our values and ideologies as a movement, something we have incorporated into all our programmes throughout the year. For 107 years FZY has been a central part of the British Jewish community, providing expert education, life changing experiences and shaping the lives of 1000s of young people – including many of you standing here. As a movement, it is our job to understand young people today, to understand what it is that they need now and how that differs from the programmes we have offered in the past. Over the past year we have started to do that with successful programmes such as Netina and Diller Teens. This year we are looking to build on these successes and encourage a cohort of new FZY participants to continue with our Kedma, post tour options in what is fast becoming one of our most popular and exciting age groups. As well as the current programmes on offer we are launching a new Kedma option ‘The Next Step’. Through FZY I have gained work experience in various fields of work and so with the help of our alumni community, we are looking to pair our post-tour participants up with them for mentoring and work experience.

One significant milestone for FZY this year is the 25th anniversary of FZY summer camp – Kesher, to mark this we are going to be tailoring the programming to the community’s needs. In the past we have been predominantly targeting large Jewish communities such as London, Manchester and Leeds, this year it is our vision to explore the country, break into provincial Jewish communities and connect them with both what FZY does and their children with the rest of the FZY community. We are also looking to get back in touch with various past participants to mark this anniversary of what has historically been a backbone of FZY Summer programmes.

Furthermore, we are looking to develop Israel Tour and Year Course. For decades tour has been a major summer programme offered by FZY, we want it to remain this way as we see the great importance of an informal, educational trip to Israel such as tour in carrying out our aims. We are looking at how we can work alongside other trips offered today, namely the year 9 Israel trips. We are looking at restructuring tour to frame a ‘second timers trip’. This will run alongside tour in a similar way, but will focus intensely on elements of Israel that they perhaps haven’t seen on previous programmes.

Year course is another essential and important programme we offer, that further helps us carry out our aims in general, but more specifically it is the programme we offer that exposes our members to the opportunities of Aliyah. The vision is, for them to move to Israel, build the land and inspire others to do so. Over the coming year we are looking to change how the programme is run ensuring that FZY and our aims and values are central to everything that is done whilst on year course. Our new accommodation in Tel Aviv is also an exciting prospect for year course participants in the coming years.

Yearly activities run by FZY are just as important as our summer programmes, and whilst over the last year our Kedma programmes have made significant steps in reinvigorating weekly activities, with over 100 people nationwide participating regularly in programmes such as hadracha, it is our aim to increase participation at important yearly events such as Veida and shabbatonim.

Veida this year is going to be held as an overnight shabbaton – Members Seminar followed by a one-day Veida in a convenient location to maximise the pinnacle: policy, constitution and voting for Mazkir/a. A stronger mandate makes a stronger movement.

Bogsem is another shabbaton that this year we are aiming to re-excite our members by looking into holding this event in Budapest. Together with the Jewish Agency we are hoping to make Bogsem both affordable and a thought provoking and educational experience. Aiming to connect our university members with their Jewish heritage and the movement’s Zionist ideology. This will be another expectation of all tour madrachim applicants to attend. The reason we have decided that this seminar is important to change and attempt to attract more participants is because we truly believe this seminar is a critical point in developing the leaders of whom go on to lead camps and tours with FZY and further, be involved in student leadership at their universities.

After mentioning throughout my speech the significance of the hadracha programme in previous years, we have decided to reinvent the programme and have included a shabbaton, which will be for both hadracha alef and bet. This shabbaton has the aim of not only educating and inspiring the chanachim, but also encouraging peer leadership, something we believe is an essential step in creating future leaders. Helping us to develop FZY leaders, and future the leaders of the Jewish community.

The Diller Teen Fellows programme is an immersive leadership programme for select teens across the UK. Diller is currently running in 6 continents and 32 communities, with FZY being the movement to bring Diller into Europe. As part of the programme in the UK we are twinned with the Diller Tiberius group with both cohorts working together throughout the year. This year we are offering Diller to post-tour participants across the UK. The programme is made up of 5 shabbatonim, one community mifgash and a 2-week trip to Israel in the summer.

Lastly, this year is a significant year in Jewish and Zionist history. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first world Zionist congress in Basle, 100 years since the Balfour declaration and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of The State of Israel. All of these milestones will be marked by events run for our members to inform, educate and celebrate these historic anniversaries.

Already this year we have spoken to our members about all our ideas and we look forward in continuing to grow and shape FZY into the movement that our members want it to be and the British Jewish community of today need it to be.

Thank you for coming today and I look forward to meeting with you all individually, and seeing development between FZY and your organisation.

FZY Israel Tour; Perspectives from the Chanichim

Read here the speeches written and delivered by a couple of the FZY chanichim at the FZY Maccabiah Event ceremony

Roni Altman; Tour 5

Eretz Zion, Yerushalayim. Those three words have been said and sung by Jews; young and old all over the world. Despite monotonously reciting them at practically every Jewish event ever, I never fully understood their importance before tour.

Israel is only one sixth of one percent of the total landmass of the Middle East. Israel has the most geniuses per capita. Around 70 unique communities are present in Israel. Statistics such as these are so easily overlooked, especially living abroad. it’s not until you tour Israel and see the high-tech city of Tel Aviv, see the multiculturalism in cities such as Haifa, see the mingling of old and new, all in a land so small, that these facts come alive.

Facts alone cannot capture the smell of spices sold at Machane Yehuda, the feeling of a warm, welcoming FZY Shabbat, or the passion felt by people of unparalleled diversity. As much as facts learned outside of Israel may help to begin to appreciate Israel until you arrive here, the connection so many people have to this land is almost incomprehensible.

When Israelis refer to Israel, they call it ‘ha’aretz,’ the land. Through exploring and working on the physical land, with Hashomer Hachadash, I understood the importance of caring for the land in Israel, as well as being connected spiritually to this country. Their message of ‘shomer achi,’ my brother’s keeper, inspired me to take action towards the issues I care about.

Connection is something I have learned a lot about so far on tour. Whereas visiting the Kotel helped reaffirm my own connection, exploring the Baha’i gardens and Druze hospitality helped me better understand other connections to Israel, as well as my own.

In truth, I am in the privileged position of having visited Israel many times, yet every time I come, I learn and experience Israel in different way. Often, many people already have a view or opinion about Israel, largely due to influence of family or friends. Yet, through the different talks and experiences unique to FZY and Young Judaea, I have not only been informed, but more importantly given space to allow me to form my own opinion about issues that concern Zionists everywhere, not just in Israel. When I return back to rainy old Manchester, other than leaving with a carry on full of duty free Toblerones, I will leave with a new sense of connection and comprehension of Israel. Many times, when I come to Israel I come on holiday, yet this time when I came with FZY, I came home.

Guy Rapacioli; Tour 2

A few days ago, our Madrichim asked us “what’s the most important thing about Judaism? What does being Jewish mean to you?” Despite some more outlandish suggestions such as “Chamantashen, Rabbi Slaznic and being able to prove everyone wrong”, it was overwhelmingly suggested that the most important things for us as Jews is the family and community, the food, the culture. Being on tour with FZY has allowed us to discover this culture in the very land where it cultivates. We’ve visited historic sites like the Kotel and the Old City in Jerusalem, and forced ourselves up Masada at 5am to experience the best sunrise you can ever hope to witness. And what’s more, we’ve done it all with smiles on our faces from start to finish, and a constant ruach that makes the FZY Tour experience so unique.

So, what gave us the motivation to do all of the amazing activities and once in a lifetime opportunities we’ve been offered, to crawl out of bed as early as 3:30 am to discover Israel? What strength did we gather to hike Masada? We’ve all been swept up by an amazing spirit and atmosphere that has lead us from one amazing experience to another. Of course, it wears off at times, like when our madrichim takes us on a sea-to-sea hike just to find the bus, or when you’re desperate to go to sleep but there’s a drum and base rave happening outside your door.

FZY Tour is a once in a lifetime experience for all of us that we’ve taken so much enjoyment from, and will cherish forever. What is Tour all about? We’ve all had fun times relaxing at free time and enjoying time with our Tour, but these are not the memories that will stick with us forever. So, what will we remember FZY Tour for? It will be remembered as one of the best summers we’ve had, for the chance to connect with the Jewish faith and Israeli culture, to experience some of the country’s most incredible sights and activities, and for the bond we’ve forged with our fellow chanichim.

I can’t not mention that we’ve visited one of the worst places in Israel, and I’m not talking about the boys’ apartment after a 5-night stay in Beit Ar-El hostel. I’m of course referring to the Gaza Strip, where we got a glimpse at a strip of land where everyday people live in horrible conditions, and terror rules. What has FZY taught me about this place, and the ongoing battle Israel fights every single day? One of FZY’s mottos is the idea of pluralism, the idea that everyone can coexist. There may never be peace in our time, but if each of us can be sure that we are spreading the message of pluralism as far as we each can, we’ll make the world that much brighter.

One of the highlights of all of our experiences in Israel so far has to be the night out we spent in Ben Yehuda Street Jerusalem. For hours we ate great food, haggled with Israel shopkeepers and danced in the streets. Most importantly, at no point in the evening did we feel in any way unsafe. This encapsulates the spirit of Israel that we’ve all experienced. Yes, there are challenges every day, but life goes on. Life thrives.

FZY tour has been one of the best experiences we’ve all had, for countless reasons. For this we must thank our madrichim for planning all of our activities, looking out for us every step of the way, and pretending not to see when they spot us out of our bedrooms a few minutes after curfew. I’d like to finish with a motto they taught us, perhaps the one takeaway from this experience that will endure when all of the memories have faded. If you want it, it’s not a dream. Thank you for listening.

Pride 2017

peterOver the last few months, FZY have taken steps to improve inclusivity within the movement, and we are pleased to bring you this inspiring blog from Peter Strauss (Hadracha Bet and incoming Year Course participant), who shares words about his identity as we celebrate Pride this weekend. To everyone who will be attending the Pride parade, have a fabulous time – it’s a time to proudly celebrate our identities!

As I sit down to write this, I’m thinking about the recent dispute between Rabbi Dweck and parts of the Jewish community. While it is not my business to discuss why I do or why other people don’t support Rabbi Dweck, I do think that it has brought an issue to the immediate attention of the Jewish community. The issue of Homosexuality and Judaism coexisting and the issue of how Judaism deals with homosexuality.

When people ask me how long I know I’ve been Gay for it is a really difficult question to answer…. Yes, I came out as Gay to my friends in November 2014 aged 16 however, before I came out I had thought for some years that I might be. When I did come out to my friends, it felt like a secret that I had been carrying around for several years had finally emerged and a huge weight was lifted of my shoulders. However, I knew deep down that I still needed to tell the most important people in my life… my family.

For me there hadn’t been an issue telling my friends at school for the simple reason that not many of them were Jewish or had strong Jewish identities. Conversely, I was worried that my family wouldn’t have accepted my sexual orientation; there was this strange idea that the words Gay and Jewish could appear in the same sentence. I was completely wrong. When I eventually plucked up the courage to tell my family they couldn’t have taken it better. They were so pleased that I had told them.

With a little encouragement from my mother, I went to my first Friday night hosted by the Jewish Gay & Lesbian Group (JGLG). It was a mind-opening experience meeting people who like me described themselves with the words Gay and Jewish in the same sentence. However, reflecting on that first meeting a few days later I still felt that I had a real issue with describing myself as both Gay and Jewish. Having leyned the verse:

“הִוא תּוֹעֵבָה,:אִשָּׁה מִשְׁכְּבֵי תִשְׁכַּב לֹא זָכָר וְאֶת”

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination”

I still felt like I was toevah [an abomination] for me I couldn’t see a link between the Gay part of my identity and the Jewish part. Through JGLG I was introduced to a Rabbi, Daniel Lichman, who helped me through this identity crisis and whom I am eternally grateful to. For me this is when I first began realising there was a connection between the two identities. However, it still took me another year and a half of research and reading until I finally came out on Facebook and to my parent’s friends.

When I think of my Jewish identity and Zionist journey there are various components that make it up but by far the biggest component for me was when I went on Israel Tour in Summer of 2015 with FZY #Tour8Turtles4Ever, and this was when I fell in love with Israel. Yes, I’d been before with family and even gone to summer camp there but this was different. I was thrown in the deep end of all different Israeli cultures and found the experience beyond rewarding. The biggest thing I realised was the diversity in Israel, take the two biggest cities in Israel. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Many people would say that the two cities are complete opposites… Tel Aviv the cultural capital of Israel with this amazing acceptance and vibrancy and then Jerusalem the religious capital of Israel steeped in history but with a much more closed of society. In general, the two cities have very different general stances towards the LGBTQ+ community. In Tel Aviv over 250,000 people attended the Gay Pride March making it one of the largest pride marches in the world. This compared to Jerusalem in 2015 where an Ultra-Orthodox Man stabbed seven people injuring six and killing one.

In September, I fly out to Israel to go on Year Course with FZY. I am really looking forward to this experience. We divide our time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Many people would say that the two cities are complete opposites… Tel Aviv with this amazing acceptance and vibrancy and the Jerusalem steeped in history but with a much more closed of society.

For me being Gay and Jewish for a long time didn’t fit. But now having experienced and seen many different sides of Jewish life I’m beginning to find a way to put the two together. There will always be people who will say that I am toevah but there will also always be people who will say I am B’tzelem Elohim [made in the image of G-d] and as such will always be loved. I think that both have weighting in my life but thankfully I now feel more loved by the Jewish and LGBTQ+ community than I did but also able to use the two words to describe key parts of my identity.

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