Noah Levy was Mazkir 2016-17. Here are his final thoughts in the role.
My 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 is Mazkir 2017-18. Here are his thoughts at the beginning of his term.
This 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.