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Celebrating Heritage and Resilience

In March, the HaNoar HaOved youth movement organized two inspiring conferences - "Shorashim" and Основа (Asnova), both aptly meaning 'roots', bringing together twelfth graders and gap year participants to explore the rich history and contemporary challenges of their unique Jewish communities.

Teens met new friends from their community at the Shorashim conference

The Shorashim conference provided a platform for teens from the Ethiopian Israeli community to delve into the courageous narratives of their families' journeys to Israel. Many participants were hearing these stories for the first time, gaining newfound appreciation for the resilience and bravery that characterized their community's immigration experience.

Shorashim participants had a chance to get to learn more about community traditions

Yerus, a participant and youth movement educator from Be’er Sheva, reflected on the profound impact of the conference, highlighting the transformative power of reconnecting with one's roots and the sense of responsibility it instills to create positive change. "This is my second time at the Shorashim conference and every time I am surprised how much magic there is in it. To see those teenagers, the connection they have with their roots, the understanding that they are part of a powerful and heroic community.” Yerus explained that, “it is really significant to hold the seminar precisely at this difficult time. It reminds us that even in days like these it is possible to create change, even in a small way.“

Simultaneously, the Asnova conference brought together Israeli teens with ties to the Former Soviet Union (FSU), offering them insights into the struggles and triumphs of Jewish life in the USSR and the subsequent immigration to Israel. The conference featured guest speaker Sylva Zalmanson, a former prisoner of Zion, whose remarkable story of resistance and activism captivated the audience, emphasizing the importance of understanding one's roots and history. 

The Asnova conference focused on the history and future of the FSU Jewish community

Sylva Zalmanson shared her heroic story with the teens.

Libby, a gap year participant, shared her experience of learning about her heritage and the historic challenges faced by Russian-speaking olim. “As the daughter of parents who immigrated from the former Soviet Union, it was important for me to learn about the difficulties the Jews experienced in the USSR before immigrating, about their identity there and the struggles they fought. It is important to know where we came from and what our history is. And most simply, I had a lot of fun at the conference!”

Both conferences served as poignant reminders of the diverse tapestry of Israeli society and the shared heritage that unites its members. As the conference’s graduates step into leadership roles within the youth movement, they carry with them a commitment to inclusivity and social justice, ensuring that all Israeli youth, regardless of background, find a welcoming home within HaNoar HaOved. Their dedication to fostering unity and understanding embodies the spirit of Israeli resilience and solidarity.

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