Written By: Kathryn Henning (Rosh Gauteng)
At the end of every Netzer camp, we have a talent show. Stock standard tradition, it isn’t camp without it.
Now, we all know that sometimes kids aren’t as good at what they do as they think they are in their heads, but they’re only 10, so we all know they’ll get there eventually. But this year, true to form, we had some late entries into the show. This little boy stood up and wanted to sing a song. He said he’d been practicing and despite the looks on the maddies faces as he stood on the stage, he truly blew us all away. Granted, he was 10 and not as good as he thought he was in his head but damn did he make us proud. If you had asked me at the beginning of camp ‘Which kid would sing at the talent show?’ I would never have put my money on this guy!
But that’s the thing about Netzer, there’s something magical in the air that makes you want to challenge yourself in ways you didn’t even know were possible. It makes you want to try new things, explore new avenues and think so far outside the box, that you can’t remember where the box is in the first place. Those two entirely too short weeks over the December holidays are only the beginning of a life long journey with the values that Netzer, as a movement, wishes to in still in its channichim.
It’s not just all the fun stuff like going to the beach or sleeping in tents or sneaky after hours dorm room chilling (even after the maddies have told you to go to bed). It’s not the Talent Show or Colour Wars or even the amazing peulot that fill your day. No, it’s really all about the people you meet, the maddies that inspire you and the ways that two weeks with Netzer can change your life forever. It’s the unexpected friendships, the pride at overcoming challenges, the excitement of being able to fully embrace yourself, without being told ‘No you can’t!’ or ‘You’re too weird!’. It’s about being accepted for who you are, by people that truly love you and want the best for you. It’s about the ups and the downs of growing up, but even when times get hard, you know that your Netzer family will always be there to pick you up, dust you off and continue this scary journey by your side.
It’s about the shared experiences and the memories that last forever. It’s about being a part of something bigger and more exciting than can ever be explained in words, because Netzer is for the dreamers, the believers, the explorers, the philosophers, the nerds and the artists and everyone in between. Netzer is for everyone. Progressive Judaism. Reform Zionism.
We will learn and we will do.
*First published in the Beit Emanuel Weekly Bulletin, week ending 5 June 2015.