6 days, Masorti youth leaders from 12 countries, 6 continents, all in one Sheraton hotel in Dallas Texas.
Now when I look back on it, it seems a little surreal and hard to believe it actually happened. However, at the time it felt like the most natural thing; to be spending such an intensive week with USYers from USA and Canada, together with NOAM Olami representatives from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, UK, Germany, France, Israel, Australia, Uganda and Ukraine.
On December 22, 15 youth leaders from Masorti youth movements around the world came together for our annual NOAM Olami seminar which takes place in a different country every year. This year it was hosted by USY in Dallas, Texas, on the weekend before their biggest event of the year, IC (International Convention).
For the first part of the week at our NOAM Olami Seminar, we were 15 leaders from all over the world. We first learned about the youth movement structure and activities in each of the different countries, and got a full picture of how different groups work in each place. We then moved on to discuss one challenge we all face today: The growing alienation from some of our basic values. The reason for this is not that we no longer believe in them, but rather that their expression in our reality has changed. Thus, there is a pressing need to redefine these values in terms that are relevant to the present day. As a result of this discussion, we had sessions about Zionism in the 21st century when the State of Israel already exists as a complex society, and a session about LGBT in Masorti Halacha and how we, as Masorti youth leaders, approach related issues in our day to day work with our youth. In the third part of the seminar, we took all of what we learned about each other and the knowledge we gained and shared, and tried to define what kind of joint projects we can do together as the global movement of NOAM Olami, and what the different countries can contribute to one another.
I think I speak for all the seminar participants when I say how eye opening, inspiring and empowering it was to realize that we share so much: our activities, our values etc. – even though we are all scattered around the world. In addition, it felt like what we learned during the seminar was just a taste of what we have to offer each other and learn from one another. The defining feeling we all left with was one of pride and motivation. We are proud to be a part of a global family and are motivated to use this great power and tool to develop our groups individually, with NOAM Olami as our global movement.
On Sunday evening, we joined 800 USYers at their International Convention. The opening session was outstanding and touching as all of their 16 regions went up to the stage to introduce themselves, and then we came up to introduce their 10 other ‘brother and sister’ youth movement groups from NOAM around the world. Even though it was the first time this had ever happened at IC, it felt like it had been part of the program forever. It was as if we were reuniting a family, in a very natural way.
During the next few days of IC, our representatives spent the time creating connections with the USY regions who they have been paired with for one of our new joint projects that will run during the year. In addition, they were all taking part in educational sessions, great meals and most importantly — having fun.
This event finally broke down barriers that have existed for no other reason than a simple lack of awareness of each other!
Now that we have a genuine feeling of a global movement, it is our responsibility to strengthen the connections and use the great strength it gives us to grow and develop NOAM Olami and the Masorti youth groups around the world.
Thank you again to all the participants, hosts and organizers who were involved in such a successful week. I look forward to continuing our work together!
Director of NOAM Olami