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Friday 22 February 2008

Har Halutz - we feel like pioneers for Reform Judaism

"Anu banu artza livnot u'lehibanot ba"
"We have come to this land to build and
to be rebuilt"
Folk song of the Second Aliyah, by Menashe Rabinah,
Israeli writer and composer (1899-1968)
We feel like pioneers
for Reform Judaism
By Debra Sagan
It is hard to believe that it has been two years since this picture was
taken...and what an incredible journey it has been so far! My decision
to make Aliyah did not come easily, as leaving my friends and family
in the States was extremely difficult. However, I was "bitten" by the
Israel bug ever since I was on the NFTY teen tour in 1987. After years of
coming back to Israel for trips, seminars, volunteering and studying,
I decided that the bitterness I felt when getting on the plane to leave
Ben Gurion needed to stop. Luckily for me, I met Oren, (who had
made Aliyah with his family when he was 12 years old and was in the
U.S studying). Our mutual desire to live in Israel was a strong basis for
our marriage. We both wanted our lives to be guided by the Jewish
calendar, to speak Hebrew, and to be able to celebrate holidays and
Shabbat together. (Since both of us are Jewish educators, we had
found that to be a challenge in the U.S.!). Our decision to move to
Israel was also very much influenced by the belief that we would be
providing our son with a wonderful childhood - where he is naturally
immersed in Judaism and feels a strong connection to the land.
Oren and I made a conscious decision not to live in a large city in
Israel. We wanted to find a place to live that has easy access to the
outdoors and would enable us to simplify our lifestyle. This decision
also challenged us to figure out exactly what it means for us to be
Reform Jews in Israel. We surely don't fit in with the secular majority
in the country, but we cannot define ourselves as "Dati/Orthodox".
Therefore, we sought out the pockets of Reform Jewish communities
throughout the country and discovered Har Halutz (The Mountain of
Pioneers). Har Halutz is a yishuv (settlement) located in the northern
part of Israel. It was established 20 years ago by a garin (seed group)
from North America and is affiliated with the Reform movement. Both
because of its beautiful natural surroundings, as well as its connection
to Reform Judaism, we decided to call Har Halutz our home


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