Zeyo Zandra

Shalom Chaverimot! 

This past shabbat, Seminar Chazon concluded in the Philadelphia bayit. After we made the decision to focus on a series of kvutza seminars instead of a larger, movement-wide Winter Seminar, we invited the original Winter Seminar tzevet applicants and machaneh rashim to attend Seminar Chazon, or visioning seminar. The purpose of Seminar Chazon was to provide hadracha for movement leadership and start shaping a yeud for HDNA moving forward.

We spent the first two days preparing for and running Yom Lemida, our online day of learning open to the whole movement. We discussed our experiences as leftist Jews, exploring emerging tensions around Israel and Palestine in Jewish and Progressive spaces, while trying to situate Habonim within the increasingly charged North American atmosphere.

Over the next two days, those who were in person delved deeper into some of the conversations brought during Yom Lemida. We attempted to define and identify anti-semitism, we learned about the amazing social work the T’nua is doing in Israel, we made pickles, we dove into the history of Hamas. 

We argued. We argued about whether certain North American frameworks represented anti-semitism, intellectual laziness, or something else entirely. We argued about terminology and who gets to define prevalent slogans and buzzwords, like “Zionism” and “From the river to the sea.” We argued about which arenas in Jewish and leftist worlds Habonim Dror should be attempting to impact. We argued and argued, questioning our beliefs and changing our minds. I came to some conclusions, and I also came to some new questions. 

We laughed. We laughed playing no-teeth rabble dabble. We laughed while Julia tried to guess that we were a support group for bruised and rejected bananas while those in the circle switched seats whenever we made eye contact. We laughed making shark tank pitches to improve HDNA and playing Name that Tune with 2010s bangers. 

We cried. We cried hearing tribute to Vivian Silver’s life -- a Zionist force for peace and justice stolen by an ideology determined to prevent peace from ever becoming a reality. We cried grappling with the direction we should take as chaverimot of HDNA. 

Seminar Chazon reminded me of something Gavi said last month: “There is a Talmudic concept that is vital to the development of Jewish law: machloket l’shem shamayim, or an argument for the sake of heaven. It means an argument so just, so necessary, that it is holy... I would like to suggest a variation: in this moment, the Jewish people face..machloket l’shem adam, an argument for the sake of humanity. We are engaged in a holy disagreement - many of us find our hearts pulled in two directions, and they should be.” This is the sentiment I felt  at Seminar Chazon. In our laughter, in our disagreement, in our tears, existed a holy struggle. 

Not only did Seminar Chazon feel like a holy struggle, it answered the loneliness and despair I’d been feeling over these last two months. The space truly was healing. It reminded me that despair having allies does not mean hope can’t win. 

I am inspired by Vivian Silver. I am inspired to build the light against the darkness of Hamas ideology and Settler ideology. I am, as always, inspired by the Ma’apilimot of HDNA’s ability to hold nuanced perspectives, listen to each other deeply, allow themselves to build and be built by each other. I am an ally of Hope, and I invite all members of Habonim Dror to join me in this holy struggle. 

Aleh V’Haghem,