Davka Achshav - Wartime Decision-Making in Our Sister Movement

By Benji Sharp, Boger of HDOZ and Rakaz of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed’s Snif Bat Yam

Between the sixth and seventh nights of Chanukkah, I participated in the national Moatza Chinuchit of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed - the Israeli movement's equivalent of a veida. While democracy happens by the actualised decisions of chanichim and madrichim on a regular basis, holding a national congress happens much less frequently, presumably due to the size and logistical nature of an event of this scale, as well as hoping to implement resolutions with a much longer-lasting impact.  For reference, the last national veida was held in 2015, and Rabin addressed the one before that in the 90s.

With this movement memory, I was excited to attend an event like this that has the potential to erect another stepping stone in the pathway of the movement... less so were parents from Bat Yam. With the Moatza being held two months and one week after the breakout of the war, sirens blaring every few days in the centre of the country, and a continued shadow of uncertainty looming overhead, I could understand parents' reluctance to send their children to an event like this. While I could say that the congress was being held in Dimona, which has barely witnessed any rockets since the beginning of the war, and that I believed that their kids would be fantastic representatives for the snif at this event, the question still returned: "Why do this in the middle of a war? Is this really the time to do something like this?"

It's a good question, but my answer always returned to this: davka achshav, it's more important than ever for the Moatza Chinuchit to happen.

Because davka achshav, for us to say that we are a democratic movement, a movement comprised of youth who have the power to have a say in the direction it decides to embark on in this new and uncertain era of our reality here.

The Moatza Chinuchit took place in Dimona on December 14, arriving in the morning, returning home in the evening. I arrived there with representatives from Snif Bat Yam.

The morning consisted of engaging in ma'agalei siach - sicha circles comprising of mixed groups chanichim and madrichim from across the country, including chaverim who had been evacuated to the Dead Sea and Eilat, or had joined the movement in these locations after being evacuated there. In these groups, alongside getting to know people from across the country, we got to be familiarised with the resolutions, the potential tensions that we thought may emerge during the moatza and sharing things to keep in mind while engaging in this democratic process.

After lunch, we had a masechet (a type of tekkes) focused on the war, including the overwhelming number of chanichim and madrichim from kenim who have been killed since its beginning, a call to bring all the hostages home now, and the work that the movement has been doing since the outbreak of the conflict.

Finally, we then began the moatza itself. There were a total of 19 resolutions which were brought to the floor, including training communarim to temporarily take on the responsibilities of rakazim that are in milu'im, reaffirming Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed's commitment to communities in the south (and actively moving to the region as part of this solidarity when conditions will allow for a return to the region) and the north, taking part in agricultural messimot and reaffirming the movement's commitment to its motto - לעבודה, להגנה ולשלום - and its practical manifestations.

Within the moatza, two resolutions really stood out to me. First, there's resolution 17, which called for the movement to reaffirm its fight against antisemitism and to stand in solidarity with Jewish communities around the world, with a special emphasis on NOAL's sister movement Habonim Dror.

The second resolution which stood out was resolution 18, which called for the reaffirmation of NOAL's commitment to kiyum meshutaf in Israel in order to preserve its Jewish-Democratic character and to ensure equal rights for all citizens.

While there was fiery debate for some of the resolutions brought to the congress, all of the resolutions passed at the moatza.

We finished the day with lighting the Chanukkiah for the seventh night of Chanukkah. It was rather surreal singing together in the face of the darkness that has been attempting to swallow our hope from so many sides in this part of the world about the light we bring, the miracles we create, and the rededication of the justice and solidarity embedded within the values that we seek.

And further gave me hope for the movement that we are leading - a movement of democracy, klaliyut, Socialist-Zionism, much-wanted hadracha and much-needed hagshama. Davka achshav, this is what we need.