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2020 - don’t forget all of it

2020 - don’t forget all of it

By Anthony, Sheliach Habonim Dror in Mexico

Januca has come and gone, New Year is on the rise, it is time for the annual summary.

2020 has been a rocky year to say the least. Wherever you have been on earth for the last 12 months, you have probably learned new terms and experienced new things: COVID, N-95 masks, social distancing and off course, zoom. While some countries are rolling out the first vaccines, the reality we have faced during the last few months will probably last for a while until we can start living the way we used to.

Habonim Dror, as all youth movements around the world, had to adapt to this new reality, finding ways to connect without seeing each other, without hugging and without shouting. The situation has forced our movement's leaders, bogrim, madrijim y hanagot, to reinvent themselves almost on a weekly basis.

Who would have thought a year ago to do virtual camps? Who could have imagined our kenim would start live broadcasting their peulot? How could we possibly organize worldwide seminars tackling issues such as crisis management in only a few weeks?

Let me state this clearly, nobody wants to relive a year such as this one.

Yet, I believe we have quite a lot to learn from this special year, positive changes that should not be thrown away too rapidly. Here’s what I think is worth keeping

1. Technology Can Help

Being unable to get to the Ken, or the office, forced us to look at technological solutions to meet and lead the movement. Suddenly, we did not have to spend time and energy getting together for every single decision, not only saving our precious time, but helping on the ecological side. If we think internationally, then the COVID crisis probably helped us move forward like nothing else did. Shlijim started sharing experiences internationally, continental meetings were held on the different levels of the youth movements.

2. Recalibrate our focus

Facing such a crisis revealed our weaknesses and our strengths. Many of the regular processes within each ken, as well as in Israel, were viewed with a different eye, a different angle. Some were seen as vital, while others became obsolete. I am sure many can identify with this thought that many of us did have during this last year: ‘let’s do that project we never have time for’. For some reason, being far from each other helped us focus on the important projects and initiatives of each team.

3. Creative hearts

As usual, youth movements, and especially Habonim Dror, proved to be pioneers in their way of doing things. Nobody knew how to teach, how to bond in the virtual sphere, and only after a few weeks of confinement, our madrijim were teaching us how to use online tools. Once we got tired of ‘just seeing’ each other on screens, the leaders of Habonim created new ways for us to interact. The main lesson of this COVID year is that creativity can beat anything. So many new things were invented this year because of these extreme conditions. That creative spirit should be kept vividly alive while we ease our way back to normalcy.

In the Habonim history books, future generations will look at this year and wonder ‘how did they do it’. There is a lot to learn and to share from this unique experience we all had to go through. Sharing these lessons between kenim, between countries will help us grow as a movement.

On a more personal note, 2020 has been a challenge too. It started well planned and then everything went south, figuratively and literally. I got stuck in Latin America for a while, saved by the few European repatriation flights to be able to reach Israel before starting my shlijut in Mexico in the summer. I have not yet set a foot in our Ken in Mexico City, but Habonim feels family already.

Let us hope that 2021 will look different than 2020.

But let’s not forget about the good things that did happen this year.

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