what’s new??

On this page you will see the most recent updates about GRJ…

November 2014 Update:

GRJ Newsletter — Cheshvan 5775

Resource Booklet for Hakhel GRJ Mifgash re: Peoplehood

Resource Booklet (Front Cover) re: Peoplehood

Resource Sheet – Israeli New Year Songs

July 2014 Update:

GRJ Social Action during Operation Protective Edge

February 2014 Update:

 GRJ questionnaire results

November 2013 Update:

An Alternative Mezzuzah by Kibbutz Mishol GRJ Groups in Nazareth Illit

After years of community building and homelessness (living in temporary rented accommodations scattered across two neighborhoods), GRJ activist study groups in Nazareth Illit finally moved into their newly renovated eight storey apartment block. Kibbutz Mishol, the biggest urban kibbutz in Israel, finished moving into their new home over Sukkot. The community’s studies and celebrations included writing their own alternative Mezuzah, which now hangs in the doorway to their block, where they are happy to host vistors:

“שְמַע כֹּל הַבָּא בִּשְעֲרֵינוּ. וְאָהַבְתָּ אֶת הָאָדָם בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֵׁךָ וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ. וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה עַל לְבָבְךָ וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ, וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל מְזוּזוֹת בֵּיתֶּךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶיךָ.

וְהָיָה אִם נִשְׁמָע אֶל הַצִּוּוּי “וְאַהֲבְתָ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ”, וְזָכַרְנוּ כִּי לֹא רַק אָדָם אָנוּ, אֶלָּא אָדָם שֶׁהוּא חָלַק מִקְּהִלָּה וּמִצִּבּוּר, וְהַיְנוּ מְחֻיָּבִים, מִתּוֹךְ הַמַּעֲשֶׂה הַמְּשֻׁתָּף, לְתִקּוּן הָאָדָם וְהַחֶבְרָה וְהָעוֹלָם,  וְתִבַּנֶה הָאָרֶץ וְהַחֶבְרָה כְּפֶרַח הַזֶּה הַצָּץ מִן הָאֲדָמָה, גָּדֵל וּפוֹרֵחַ וְנוֹתֵן אֶת נִיחוֹחוֹ וְאֶת יוֹפְיוֹ לַעוֹלָם.  וְאָסַפְנוּ אֶת פֵּרוֹת עֲבוֹדָתֵנוּ, וְאָכַלְנוּ וְשָׂבַעְנוּ וְהוֹתַרְנוּ, וְיָשַׁבְנוּ בֶּטַח.

נִזְהָר פֶּן נִשְׁכָּח צִוּוּי זֶה, וּמִן הַשִּׁכְחָה תִּתְפּוֹרֵר הַחֶבְרָה אֶל הַפְּרָטִים הַבּוֹדְדִים, וְהַעָרְבוּת תֵּעָלֵם, וְאָבַדְנוּ מְהֵרָה מָעַל הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה הָזֹּאת.

וְעַל כֵּן נִשְׁמֹר אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הַאֵלֶּה עַל לְבָבֵנוּ וְעַל נָפְשֵׁנוּ, וּנְלַמֵּד אוֹתָם אֶת בָּנִינוּ, חֲבֵרֵינוּ וּמַכָּרֵינוּ, לְדָבֶּר בָּם בְּשִׁבְתָּם בְּבֵיתָם וּבְלֶכְתָּם בַדֶּרֶךְ וּבְשָׁכְבָם וּבְקוּמָם, וְנִכְתֹּב אוֹתָם עַל מְזוּזוֹת בֵּיתֵנוּ וּבִשְעֲרֵינוּ. לְמַעַן יִרְבּוּ יָמֵינוּ וְיָמֵי בָּנֶינוּ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִתְּנָה לָנוּ, וְאֵין זוֹ אַגָּדָה.”

“Hear all who enter our gates: And you shall love all people with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. And these words shall be in your heart, and you shall teach diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home, and when you walk upon the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

And it shall come to pass that if we surely listen to the imperative “Love thy neighbor as yourself”, and we remember not only that we are a person, but also a person who is a part of a community and of a public, and we are committed, through our shared actions, to heal people, and society, and the world. And the land and society will be reborn, as a flower that peeps through the earth, to grow and flower and lend its fragrance and its beauty to the world.  And we will gather the fruits of our labor, and prudently we will eat and be satisfied, and we shall dwell in safety.

And we must take care not to forget this imperative, for in forgetfulness society will lose its cohesion and become a scattering of individuals, and we lose the responsibility we have for one another, and we shall perish quickly from off this good land.

So we will put these words on our hearts and on our souls, and we shall teach them to our children, to our friends and to those we meet, and they shall speak of them when they sit at home, and when they walk upon the way, and when they lie down and when they rise up. And we shall write them on the doorposts of our homes and on our gates, in order to prolong our days and the days of our children on the land that was given to us, and it is no dream.”

July 2013 Update:

Clip Onward NY visit to Kvutzot AM GRJ group, Haifa – July 18th

What should be the weekend in Israel? It’s a long term argument here in the Jewish state, with proponents of economic productivity saying Saturday-Sunday makes the most sense, while Israel’s Arab Muslim population, and many Jews, say that Friday and Saturday are the days of rest that best express the state’s identity and vision.

For American Jews visiting and seeking to understand Israel, it’s an especially interesting question. American Jews know best the benefits and comforts of fitting into Western culture, including the calendar and the weekend.  On the other hand, for many visitors the unique atmosphere of tranquility on Friday afternoons is part of what makes this country special and what brings them back time after time.

This past Thursday a group from New York on a Clip Onward program in Tel Aviv came to Haifa to visit one of the Groups Renewing Judaism. The Kvutzot Am group members led a short informal educational program discussing the significance of the ancient Jewish calendar in Israel today and for Jews around the world – what is obsolete, what is more relevant than ever, and how the calendar and festivals within it are one of our strongest tools for bringing people together.

After a short break, we introduced the Kvutzot Am urban kibbutz in Haifa and and each kibbutz member present told a bit about their educational work and how their GRJ learning inspires their work and community building. Few of the New Yorkers had heard of the idea of an urban, educational kibbutz and they had lots of questions to ask! The meeting was very fast-paced and interesting, and I think everyone involved enjoyed the opportunity for dialogue and open conversation about Judaism, activism and Israel.


June 2013 Update: 

GRJ Bialik Conference 2013

bialik june 2013

 20130605082616-ae28260b-cu_s9999x200The relationship between activism and culture can be a tricky one. Those who are working to change the world may suspect artists of irrelevance, of not taking a stand and confronting injustice in a flawed world. Those who are seeking to express truth through creativity and art may fear that ideologies may distort or trample authentic, honest human self-expression. This is a tension that is written across the pages of the history of the Zionist movement, from Alterman to Amichai and from the kibbutzim to Tel Aviv.

On June 2nd over 100 members of the six member movements of the GRJ – Kvutzot Am, Machanot Haolim, Tarbut, Hashomer Hatzair, Dror Israel and the Community Incubator – gathered in Tel Aviv for a unique festive and educational event, the Bialik Conference, held in partnership with Machon Shittim. For me the conference addressed this tension in a profound way which enriched my understanding of the essential need for both within Zionism.

 The conference began with guided tours of the Bialik House, where the poet resided for the last decade of his life and from where he played a dominant role in the development of Jewish culture in the First Hebrew City, having been recognized already during his lifetime as ‘the National Poet’. Professor Nissim Calderon then addressed the gathering in a lecture on Chaim Nachman Bialik’s poetry. The poet’s work, like his life, contained a unique balance of the public and private: he wrote poetry like the ‘Blessing for the Nation’ – a kind of secular hymn blessing the pioneers laboring in the soil of the homeland, and ‘Take Me Under Your Wing’, one of his many poems expressing very personal and private love. Calderon helped shed light on the Biblical and Talmudic references of several poems, adding a dimension of depth below the poetry’s surface level meanings.

20130605082923-3aee7c5c-cu_s9999x200After a break, the participants broke into inter-movement groups for a study session of Berl Katznelson’s eulogy for Bialik, which discussed the close and complex relationship between the pioneering movement of that time and the national poet. This led to an eye-opening discussion of the place of Hebrew culture in our movements today – the ways in which movement members create culture within their communities, and the relationship between the movement members and the Israeli mainstream then and now.




20130605082626-0ade802a-cu_s9999x200The final session of the evening featured members of various movements performing stirring musical renditions of Bialik poems. There was also a small book of Hebrew poetry written by movement members distributed to attendees. The creativity and vitality I encountered in this conference inspired me to invest additional efforts in Jewish cultural creation in my own community and movement, and to recognize the importance this culture has to our activism and educational activity.

 Written by: Ruth Stevens, Kvutzot Am



April 2013 Update:

HaMahanot Haolim Movement celebrated Shavuot with a special ceremony and original tunes to songs… Listen to the music and see photos from the event in the clip below:

March 2013 Update:

Read about the Pesach Celebration in HaMahanot HaOlim Movement below.. Enjoy !

Pesach update 2013


February 2013 Update:

A fun video about some of Tarbut’s creative work during Purim for community Purim parades…


January 2013 Update:

A short video describing the meaning of the concept of the “Brit” (covenant) for GRJ participants…


November 2012 Update:

A participant in the program from HaShomer Hatzatir movement speaking about his experience:
“My name is Amit and I am part of the community “Shichvat Pelech” that lives today in Haifa. We are 20 members and most of us work as educators in the northern part of Israel. I participate in the movement’s studying program “The Challenge of Equality – Reflections of the Jewish social justice perspective and its practice in Zionism and the Israeli society today” every second week in Giv’at Haviva.
The program is made of a serious curriculum and profound learning in innovative and interesting methods.
Personally, I am very interested in Judaism, yet, I was surprised to discover how much the ancient Jewish values of social justice are relevant to our state today.
I think that the Phrase: “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’” could have been said by the prophet Amos in our times as well.”

2012-04-14 19.35.53




October 2012 Update:

During October, in the run up to the 17th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, the study groups from Dror Israel participating in GRJ focused their learning on the relationship between Judaism and Democracy.

Dror Israel, and the other movements participating in GRJ, produced and organized the rally to commemorate Rabin’s assassination, along with other organizations, which was held in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. This year marks the first time since Rabin’s death that National Religious movements have agreed to participate. Their involvement was significant and meaningful and strengthened the call for Democracy among attendants.

Here is picture of a group study about the issue:

GRJ - Picture 1








And here is an article from the Jerusalem Post about the event:

15,000 attend tel aviv ceremony marking 17 years since rabin assasination


Participants summing up their experiences in the program:

Hadas, GRJ participant, from HaMahanot HaOlim, Nazareth Illit: “I am a guidance counselor to 17 year old students (Chanichim) in the movement’s annual trip (Masa) to Poland. In the process of preparing for the trip we undergo a learning process about the Jews in the Diaspora to become familiarized with the roots of Jews in Europe before and during World War 2. In the first activity we talk with them about their connection to Judaism.

In the lesson I was teaching I asked the students: ‘Do you define yourself as Jewish? What is your Judaism?’ There were quite a few students who said, ‘I’m an atheist’, or ‘I’m not Jewish’. Some of them can’t define what it means to ‘be Jewish’. Some find in difficult to define themselves as Jewish and prefer to say they have no religion.

We began dealing with the issue of secular Zionist Judaism. It turned out many student believe secular Judaism has no future, or at least aren’t aware of the existence of such and what it has to offer to some in our society nowadays…

The content which the Jewish history can bring to our lives as secular Jews, even in the level of discourse and moral values between people, has a great difficulty in surpassing the barrier of faith in God and keeping Mitzvoth. Thus a rich world of content and values that can create a sense of belonging and connection, is lost.

Even within the educational team when going over the activities there was slight embarrassment, we asked ourselves the same questions and the answers were not obvious.

It is very important that we are dealing with these subjects in the program. We need to continue to deepen our understanding and perspective.”

Eran, GRJ participant from HaMahanot HaOlim, Naaran: “Studying in the program allows us to formulize our language and concepts to better understand the world and make it a better place.

Studying Brenner’s works in the form of a ‘tractate’ gives us a deeper perspective on the issues and dilemmas of the Jewish people and Israeli society. Brenner genuinely felt the pain of the Jewish people and at the same time denounced it. This is an educational heritage for us. Through studying Brenner we were able to discover and decipher Brenner’s contemplations about the fate of the Jewish people and his ongoing search for identity, meaning and action.

As an educator I find in Brenner a source of inspiration. It is not merely a text to bring to students but a way of thinking, tapping into the deepest roots and calling for us to find and create our common path.

I come to the study program with questions about the fate of the Jewish people and Israeli society. In a time of superficiality and spiritual detachment there is an urgent need to ask questions about the future. How can we manifest a value based life in a reality-show based culture? Brenner who viewed reality as divine would probably find the gnawing cultural void detesting.

In our program we decided to try and write a story ourselves. It was a challenging experience of dwelling into our own dilemmas and hardships. It was also an enriching experience that evoked meaningful conversations and a vigorous dialogue between the members of the group.”


Omer, guide in GRJ program from Tarbut Movement, Afula: “The process of building the study program with the focus of the Jewish roots of the Zionist revolution was not a simple challenge for our educational team (Madrihim). Selecting and deciding on the content of the program was a meaningful process in itself in outlining our Jewish Zionist identity as a movement and as a group.

The choice of focusing on prominent cultural figures such as Biyalik, Brenner, Ehad Ha’am and Bradichevsky was a fundamental one. First, because it gave us the opportunity to meet with “live” characters and identify with their dilemmas concerning Jewish identity and culture similar to our own, and on the other hand to point out the differences between forming a Jewish identity then and now. Secondly, it allowed us to familiarize ourselves with “classic” texts from the pioneer’s cultural and spiritual environment.”

Yiftach, GRJ participant from Tarbut Movement, Netanya: “When we finish our study day and go on to our educational work with the youth and the community we are faced with many dilemmas. In what way can we bridge the gaps between different sectors and heritages in the community we live in which are also expressed in their connection to Israel and to Jewish identity? How will we develop a significant Jewish discourse with the community more meaningful than a relatively superficial encounter in holidays and Shabbat? How can we be most relevant as educators and artists in the community facing the rising religious extremism and intolerance?

Studying with the group in the program deepens our own Jewish and Zionist identity, and at the same time accentuates the need for meaningful frameworks in which we can deal with these issues with the community in which we live.”

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