Written By: Kendyll Jacobson (Netzer South Africa)
In South Africa, we learn from a young age about diversity and unity, about how human beings are all different, about how unity makes a larger impact on situations and that we need to be united fronts for whatever we choose to be a part of. These concepts were and are seemingly contradictory, especially to a self-proclaimed logical thinker like myself. Joining Netzer at age 10 only added to the confusion as these ideas were emphasised in a Netzer fashion. I’d always been Jewish, always attended shul and always lit shabbos candles and I had always been South African, born and bred and loved being a part of the Rainbow Nation yet going to Netzer made me proud to be a Jewish South African… or a South African Jew (I still haven’t decided what I prefer).
To cut a long story short, only (a few months short of) ten years down the line after joining Netzer, I, good old Kendyll, the ‘lone soldier’ from Durban and the “underdog” chanicha was sent to represent my entire country of Netzerniks in Israel at Veida 2015. With the knowledge I had of Netzer SA, Netzer Olami, Judaism and Zionism I eagerly hopped on that plane to Israel… not nearly expecting what I was about to experience.
Try and imagine a room of just over 20 young people. Now picture that group of people representing 14 different countries. The one obvious South African response would be; ‘this won’t work, we are all so different’ yet the other could be; ‘this will work, we are all so different’. So which one should I agree with? I chose to not go with either but to rather enter the room with an awkward smile. So what came out of this international room? How about progression, positivity and a new path!
Netzer Veida 2015 inspired me to keep on going in this movement, this movement that is greater than me, greater than my snif and greater than my country yet values me, my snif and my country. If I am being honest I had a terrible time as rosh machaneh in December and was at the brink of leaving Netzer but after Veida I know I am here to stay (I’m in denial of the ‘honeymoon phase’). Veida taught me how to be ambassador for my channichim and madrichim to ensure I wasn’t letting them down. Veida taught me to remember what I have been taught in the past, a lot of what I learned I was actually relearning but it was still so relevant. Veida taught me that I love Zion but not just love Zion, I want to embody the love of Zion. Yes, there was history and talks and information passed onto us that some people may never be able to learn and thank goodness for our brains and the ability to remember because this information needs to be passed onto to as many people as we encounter. Veida taught me to teach and learn simultaneously.
However, the thing I gained from Veida more than anything else is this incredible sense of understanding and being understood. Meeting my peers – who I like to think of as the ‘German/Australian etc version of me’ or that I’m the South African version of them – the people who understand what it means to run Netzer was incredible. When they spoke I was relating their actions back to South Africa and vice versa. Inside and outside of the classroom the unification of Netzer Olami reached the potential that no one could have imagined leaving all of the participants as friends, colleagues and family. This is what Netzer is all about!
Standing together singing shehechianu in a circle, with the Old City looking on as we sang our lungs out, well what better way to be Zionists, to be Jewish youth and to be Netzer.
Anachnu Ha chaltzuzim shel Netzer.