The seminar was run by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), supported by the Pratt Foundation, in partnership with the Australian Zionist Youth Council and Masa Israel Journey. Philip Chester, ZFA President, said that “the support of the Pratt Foundation has been integral in making this seminar possible and we thank them for their commitment to this important project.”
“Sikkum means conclusion or closure, but really we were opening the participants up to the concept of translating their Israel experiences into personal and communal practicalities as well as exposing them to some of the core communal elements that they will be encountering upon their return” said seminar coordinator Dara Podjarski.
The seminar began with a ceremony at the Pratt Foundation’s Park of the Australian Soldier and Military Cemetery in Beer Sheva, which commemorate the Australian victory in World War I that took place in that city. The park represents the relationship between Australia and Israel while simultaneously commemorating history. At the ceremony, Brandon Alter, speaking on behalf of Israel by Choice
, said that this generation must learn a lesson from the heroic charge of its fellow Australians “and stand up for our beliefs and Israel’s right to exist.”
The main aim of the seminar is to prepare the participants for their return to Australia/New Zealand and an active role in community life. The two days were spent discussing the roles and challenges that they will face, engaging in round table discussions with ex-youth movement bogrim, ex-shlichim and community leaders, covering a range of macro and micro issues and looking closely at working with key communal partners such as AUJS, schools, communal organisations.
The seminar concluded with a guest speaker (Nir Tsuk, Director of Ashoka Israel), who provided deep insight into the power of youth and brought home the idea and the power of being a changemaker.
Yigal Sela, ZFA Israel Office Director, describes it in the following terms: “They have spent the year peeling away at every layer: from the Jewish world at large, to their local Jewish community, to their youth movement and their inner-self. Sikkum seminar is about putting those layers back together and becoming whole again.”
Upon return, these 150 participants will make valuable contributions to the Jewish community for the years to come.