Northern Shnat

Description of Shnat Netzer- Northern Hemisphere

What is Netzer Olami?

Netzer Olami was established by the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) 30 years ago as the world wide Reform Zionist Youth Movement. Today Netzer Olami has 19 snifim (branches) on 6 continents and over 15,000 members.

What is Shnat Netzer?

Shnat Netzer is a unique 8.5 month leadership training program for young adults in Israel. This program is an international post high school program for Bogrim (graduates) of the Netzer Olami youth movement from all over the world and young people who are interested in being leaders in their community. Shnat Netzer Mission Statement is-

The mission of Shnat Netzer is to develop leadership within the Netzer and the wider Jewish community while developing participants' understanding of, engagement with and commitment to Netzer's ideology. Through the Shnat Netzer experience we aim to create a Progressive Jewish and Progressive Zionist hagshama experience, to develop an ongoing relationship with the land, people and State of Israel and to encourage the personal growth of the participants.

Shnat Netzer helps recent high school graduates develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders in their movement, community and college back home. It offers participants the chance for personal development, opportunities to study Jewish and Zionist ideals, and a structured environment to learn about the Progressive Movement’s principles and ideology.

Shnat Netzer is an exciting, challenging and stimulating way to spend a year in Israel. Participants experience:
✓ Progressive Judaism and Zionism in practice
✓ Self-discovery
✓ Leadership
✓ Learning Hebrew
✓ Tikkun Olam and Social Action projects
✓ Being a part of an international program
✓ Adventure
✓ Excitement

Shnat Netzer broadens the horizons and offers an opportunity for self-discovery and what it means to be Jewish and live in Israel. Participants form life-long friendships both with peers in the Shnat Netzer group and with other Jews from around the world whom they will meet and live with during the year. The year is spent with participants from all over the world, including South Africa, Australia, North America, Germany, Spain, and England. Together the participants will be able to develop skills and share experiences to help them become experienced and knowledgeable leaders.

If you have been a part of a Netzer branch, or if you have grown up in a Progressive Jewish community, and you are wondering where to go from here, Shnat Nezer is the natural way to continue your involvement. It is a chance to acquire a whole new range of skills and abilities and make wonderful memories.

Shnat Netzer program offers you more choices and opportunities for an exciting Israel experience. Let’s start the journey in to the year and see what it is all about! The year is divided in to three parts, with the ability to choose the component that suits your personality and aims as best as possible:
1. Community Experience together on Kibbutz
2. Tikkun Olam period
3. Mechinat Etgar or Machon


For the first month of Shnat Netzer, the Shnattim will spend time on Kibbutz Lotan, living in the kibbutz ecological neighborhood, building a community, adjusting to life in Israel, and preparing themselves for the incredible learning opportunities ahead. They'll learn Ecology, Hebrew, Reform Zionism and Progressive Judaism among other things. Kibbutz Lotan is one of our two Progressive Kibbutzim and is located in the Arava. Although this part of the program takes place on Kibbutz Lotan it is not a kibbutz experience. The goal and main objective of this element is group boding.


During this 2 and a half month period, there are two options to choose form: Shnat B’Ir (Shnat in the city) or Kibbutz.

Shnat B'ir (Shnat in the city) - For those who chose this option, they will live and work together in Karmiel – a culturally and socially diverse city, where one can expierence the real Israeli life in the beautiful surroundings of the Galilee. In this chapter, you will be living together in a flat (depending on the size of the group you may be divided into more than one flat) and creating your own community. During the day you will volenteer in the community, putting in to action Netzer’s ideology of Tikkun Olam. Every day you will go out individually or in small groups to volunteer. The volunteering options vary every year, in the past groups have volunteered in a school for children who have not had success in other school settings – giving English support to the students, volunteered in a kindergarden, volunteered packing food and clothes packages for people in need and volunteered on an ecological farm, to name a few of the projects.

Kibbutz – Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava Desert (approximately 30 minutes from Eilat) have been an integral part of the Shnat Netzer family and a successful component of Shnat Netzer. You will be volunteering and working on the kibbutz while learning about the Reform Zionist community. Your work on the kibbutz is actual work that without which the kibbutz could not function. You will also learn about the ecologically sustainable lifestyle that Kibbutz Lotan maintains and about the history and theory of the Kibbutz movement. This is a chance for you to experience the working world, earning allowance that you will decide how to spent, integrating in to the kibbutz society.


Mechinat Etgar and Machon run at exactly the same time in the program (February – June). At this point, you have already chosen which program you will participate in.

Mechinat Etgar
Etgar literally means challenge. The Mechinat Etgar program is specifically tailored and built for Netzer Shnattim. The program is put together and run by our dedicated Netzer Olami staff- made up of Native Israelis, and Netzer graduates who have come to live in Israel when possible.

The aims of the program are to create a strong learning community, educate the group about Israeli society, Jewish History and Culture, and to gain a better understanding of Progressive Judaism. These are all achieved through living as a Reform Zionist community, a community which studies, plays, prays, eats and lives together. The group lives in their own apartment and have to provide for all that entails. E.g. cooking, cleaning, shopping and deciding on issues as a community.

Mechinat Etgar is a holistic program as it expects you to take what you have studied, examine it, and decide how you choose to implement it into their individual lives and into your community.

The days are spent in classes, working on projects and volunteering in different options in their community. Hebrew lessons are also a significant element of the program as are regular short and longer trips. Both Machon and Mechinat Etgar share the same core educational topics, with many of the lecturers being shared by the two programs, but the content is enriched with the specific needs of Netzer madrichim in mind. The content of Mechinat Etgar slightly changes from machzor to machzor according to the previous years' feedback.

The name Machon comes from “Machon L’madrichei Chutz L’aretz” (the “Institute of youth leaders from abroad”). Machon has been run for over sixty years by the Sochnut (Jewish Agency) as a Zionist youth leadership development program.

Classes take place five days a week (Sunday to Thursday), with a mix of classroom-based and non-classroom based activities. The topics covered change from week to week, giving you a rounded Jewish education. The Machonikim sleep in dormitories on the campus and all meals are provided in the communal dining room. Just as on Etgar, there are regular short and longer trips around Israel as part of the educational program.

This table points out some of the major differences between Machon and Mechinat Etgar:



Run by the Jewish Agency for Israel

Run by Netzer Olami

Shared dorms on a campus

Living independently in flats

Dining Room catering

Cooking for yourselves as a community

Focus more on class time

Focuses on learning and on time for communal activities and building a Netzer community.

Pluralistic environment together with other movements

Progressive environment- living in a Netzer Community

Normal size- about 80 participants from different Youth Movements

Normal size- about 15 participants, from different Netzer snifim

In addition all participants of Shnat Netzer will take part in regular meetings with Israelis, other gap year programs, including hikes throughout Israel, Seminars, Shabbatot B’yachad (spending Shabbat together), cultural events and so much more!


Do I have to join for the whole year?
Doing the whole 8.5 months is definitely the best way to get the most out of the program and Israel. There is an option to join half the program though.

When does the program start and finish?
Shnat Netzer program runs from October to June for participants who join the program from Europe and North America and from February to November for the participants who join the program from Australia and SA.

Each participant will receive a $500 grant from Masa and may apply for a needs-based scholarship.

Will my studies suffer if I am away for a whole year?
Definitely not! A year away will be very beneficial and offer you valuable space and time to develop. Many colleges and universities actually prefer their students to take a year off before embarking on a course of higher education and accumulate life experiences. They reason that students who have been away for a while are more mature and can cope much better with the educational and other pressures of college life. Many employers also see a year abroad before college as an advantage and a builder of character.

How is the program staffed?
Netzer Olami employs a full time, dedicated, professional staff to work on the Shnat Netzer program. Each group has a madrich (leader) who accompanies it during the year and staff responsible for their welfare and educational content at each location. Shnat Netzer, unlike some other programs, does not have 'live-in' staff. We believe that the experience of the program will be more significant if the participants can be independent. Of course, there are rules and regulations that participants must agree to before joining, and abide by during the program, and our staff is available around the clock in the event of any situation.

What about Safety and Security?
We treat the safety and security of our participants as our number one priority, and take all precautions to ensure that the program is safe while maintaining its quality. Netzer Olami regularly receives information about all aspects of safety and security from the Jewish Agency situation room and local authorities and update all groups accordingly. Staff is available 24 hours a day to answer questions from participants should they have any concerns. Program changes will be made if security demands it.

Please be aware that the all information and details are subject to change as arrangements and numbers are confirmed with various agencies in Israel. Shnat Netzer continues to develop and expand over time to ensure that it is always a rewarding and satisfying experience.

For more information about the Shnat Netzer program please contact your local Netzer branch or:
Netzer Olami
Cellphone (+972)522 906 104
Telephone (+972) 2 620 3510
Fax (+972) 2 620 3511

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