The Tnua in Times of Crisis
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
The Tnua in times of Crisis.
"Utopia is on the horizon. I walk two steps, she walks away two steps
and the horizon runs ten steps further.
So, for what does the utophy works?
For that, it is good for walking. ”
- Eduardo Galeano
A few months ago, together with other Rashei Chinnuch Olamim and Mazkirim Olami from different Tnuot in Israel we made an educational trip to Romania. As part of that trip we learned about the history of the community. One of many places we visited was the Jewish cemetery in the city of Isi, where we saw a monument honoring the youth movements of the city during the Shoah era. Young Jews wondered about what they needed to do during those times of crisis, they wondered what their role was in the face of such an extreme and unimaginable situation. Those were young people reorganized
the crisis and took action to help their community.
It was there that the penny dropped, it was there that I understood what the tool is to continue the relevancy of Jewish-Zionist youth movements. This tool is summed up as a valid question for any Tnua anywhere, anytime. The central question of the Jewish Zionist youth movements is summed up in this phrase: The role of each generation in the Jewish Zionist youth movements is to ask what is the main Jewish-Zionist challenge of their time is and to act accordingly. This means that one of the main exercises of the Tnuatit leadership is to stop every now and then, look around them, understand the reality that surrounds them, and based on their values and ideologies related to Judaism and Zionism they then need to define a plan of action and to progress in that direction.
The central question in today's generation, in the postmodern era, is precisely this, what is the main challenge of the Jewish people today and how can Habonim Dror, with its ideology and history, answer that question and carry out the task at hand.
There will be many different answers to this question and that is what makes each youth movement different. At Habonim Dror we ask ourselves if the main challenge will be the fight against anti-Semitism in the world, if it will be the fight against BDS, if it will be to promote the massive Aliyah to Israel, if it will be to promote social justice in Israel, if it will be to strengthen the identity of the Jewish diaspora, or if it will be the
fight for plural and egalitarian Judaism; amongst many other options. These questions are the driving force of the Tnua. There is not a single answer or a single constant big challenge throughout the history, but rather an answer that changes over time and there can be several answers for each generation. The problem is not changing the answer, the main problem is not having any answer, it is not having identified what our main challenge is.
The identification of the main challenges is not unique in times of crisis, it is real at all times and it is an obligatory exercise in all Tnuot that want to be relevant. However, it is always important to keep the ideology at the base as a compass.
In this historical journey, from time to time, specific challenges appear that do not have to do with the specific Tnua’s purpose. These challenges nevertheless compel us to act and raise the need to react. Perhaps this pandemic is one of those moments when we stop our Tnuati routine to ask ourselves what we can do specifically to help and be relevant in moments of Coronavirus. How can we, Habonim Dror, be relevant in COVID-19 times?
I do not come to you with an answer, each city, country, continent, will seek your own answer. I come to propose a way of thinking about how we can be relevant.
I suggest that you think about your Tnua and its circles of influence. As an example, I bring a vision where the Tnua has many circles of influence and we need to see how the Tnua can be relevant to each circle and what the challenges are for each circle. Remember, this based on the ideology and values of Habonim Dror !!
1- Chanichim: The first group of influence is the Chanichim, the first ones we think of. The first to whom we offer peulot, who we care for and try to entertain and educate, and help to pass this moment of crisis together. We can think of a process where they are active, where they create and where they are protagonists. Our educational work must continue with them.
2- The tzevet of madrichim (in which each country has a different name): The second group are the Tnua activists, those who decide, those who take action and take on the responsibility. How do we make “ourselves” relevant to our peers or be able to give them tools to be relevant?
3- Tnua families: The third group are the families of our Channichim. The brothers and sisters of our Chanichim who are also at home and for whom we can be relevant. The fathers and mothers whom we can help during these times, with content and activities and tools for the family to carry out games that we could provide, etc. In short it is Passover and we can help families to have a more fun Seder, as well as a more profound and thoughtful one. Even a Habonim Hagadah, which could be a great peulah itself. The grandparents, who are also alone at home and don’t have many visitors; we could bring them into this too. These are just some ideas we can work with.
4- The Jewish community: The fourth group is the Jewish community that surrounds us. How can we be relevant to those who are from our community and who need us. The elderly who have no one to buy their food, the elderly who need someone to talk to, the people with few resources who cannot stock up to avoid leaving home. Understanding which organizations and movements we can be relevant to.
5- The general community: The last circle is that of the community that surrounds us, the neighborhood where we live, the neighborhood where members of our Tnua live and even people who cross the street and need our help.
This is just a way of thinking and interpreting reality and a way of helping our thinking be organized, it is not a rule to follow. Rather, with this letter I hope to invite you to ask yourself what are your circles of influence and for who you would like to be relevant
to and how. This exercise is valid for the beginning of each year, but it is also valid for any crisis we face. Today we are facing a crisis and if we want to be relevant, and not just another talk in zoom, we have to stop and think together, based on our values and our ideology. One of the benefits we have in Habonim Dror is that we are global. No city, no country is alone in this, we are all together and we can help each other, we can give each other ideas and we can share material, we can give each other strength. Without a doubt, we are facing a situation in Habonim Dror where each country will choose how to act according to their reality and possibilities. But the more together we are and the more we help each other, the easier we are to overcome this challenge in order to focus again on the main Jewish-Zionist challenge of our generation.
But, Made, you didn't say anything about Hagshama! Of course not, because Hagshama is not a place you come to, it is not an answer but it is the path we choose to walk. I invite you to walk together, respecting all differences.
Machlaka Chinuchit Habonim Dror Olami
Habonim Dror Olami Education Department