November is an exciting time for matrics, the prospects of the big wide world are almost in their grasp with exams being the final hurdle. For Netzerniks it becomes the time to prepare for the upcoming year unanimously agreed as the most amazing year of your life – Shnat, Shnat Netzer.
Shnat is when the movement sends these enthusiastic individuals on the great trek to Israel to come back as well rounded competent leaders ambitious to take on the management of the movement and implement the ideology. When phrased like this, it sounds like indoctrination machine designed to churn out Netzer gimps and visionaries. Essentially the Netzer Year is indeed a chance to live out the Netzer Ideology but through extensive learning, touring and experiences in a multitude of contexts.
Firstly ‘Shnatties’ are exposed to and live with other Netzerniks from across the globe. Australians Germans, British and Americans are but a few of these. So, in addition to being immersed in the overwhelming Israeli culture, they too have to endure the Australian slang and American twang. This exposure allows Shnatties to actually engage with the international Diaspora whilst relating and evaluating the Movement in other branches of the world.
Secondly the statement ‘Shnat makes a leader out of you’ doesn’t mean you come back with the notion that ‘Herzl is your homeboy’. The rigorous leadership training provided on shnat through the four month programs of the pluralist Machon and progressive Etgar, are informally structured. This means learning ranges from classroom and theory based study to peer led initiatives. Leadership training is a focal point of the many structured hikes, tours seminars and events shanties partake in.
Finally, Shnat above all else is an introspective experience in coming to terms with ones newly established independence. It is a chance to obviously grow as a person but through the ideals espoused by the movement. Shnat, (besides being a hell of a lot of wacky fun) is that surge of idealistic optimism, that powerful adrenalin rush that is sorely lacking in the youth of today. This formative year equips young people with passion and conviction for their Judaism and for their belief in the ability of the youth to change the world.
Nilmad ve’na aseh – ‘we will learn and we will do’
Rosh Chinnuch Cape Town
Netzer South Africa