Shnat Savyon: First Impressions of Shnat

by Emily Larkin

All six British Shnatties arrived roughly 3 weeks ago, and we’ve had a great time so far and eager to continue this nine month journey!

The first week, we stayed at Beit Shmuel, in Jerusalem. In our opening, we met the three other Shnatties in our Northern group – Sima (Netzer Germany), Alyssa from the USA and Harley from Canada (both NFTY). Our Madrichot are lovely and it felt great to finally begin what we’d all been so excited for!

Adjusting to life on Shnat was difficult at first – you’re in a country that you’ve been to before but are slowly learning the language and which side of the road the cars drive on. The harder stuff is the emotional aspect of living with people for nine months: missing home, family and friends and understanding everyone’s individual emotions without all getting under each others’ toes. Getting to know someone is more than remembering their name and where they come from, it’s about bonding individually and as a k’vutzah (a group).

Since then, we’ve moved to an ecological farm called Chava and Adam (as in Adam & Eve). It takes the idea of ethical consumerism and tikkun olam to the max (compost toilets, limiting/reusing waste and is vegan).  

My first impressions of communal living only really started when we moved in there. We shared one big space (a huge dome) as a group which was a great opportunity to bond further. The community here are some of the friendliest people you can meet, and while at first it was a little overwhelming – there were so many people and thing happening, after a little getting-used-to, I started to see the benefits of this lifestyle. They cook and clean communally, and every job they do helps the farm in many ways such as maintaining the land to grow produce. There’s also picking the fruits and vegetables that the people here eat and fixing broken buildings or constructing furniture with recycled materials that can be useful the farm.  

Netzer is often a smaller aspect on LJY, but cannot be forgotten about. Joining other sniffim and learning about their experiences within Netzer has been fascinating and really put into perspective where we fit into our mother movement. We’re picking up all sorts of tips and tricks, so expect many new songs and chants when we return! The core ideology is similar but has some key differences: while LJY only has 4 pillars, Netzer has far more, although they cover roughly the same stuff. Different sniffim prioritise different parts of the ideology, and so each one adds their own unique twists and quirks to the movement as a whole. There’s still plenty more to learn in the upcoming weeks though, and we look forward to being more knowledgeable about it all!

Thanks for reading the first LJY Shnat Savyon blog! Tune in next time for more bits and bants from Kibbutz Lotan!