And the beat goes on

Meet our Netzach Israel's new Noam Head, Inbar Nagar Halevy

by Maxine Dorot

Ashkelon’s conservative Netzach Israel Synagogue  is a relatively small community in a sea of Orthodox “shules”, and yet, we have over 30 third generation members!  One of them is 20 year old Inbar Nagar Halevy.  Inbar’s grandmother, Yehudith Vilk, has been a member here for over 45 years!! Her two sons, Daniel and Yitzchak, Inbar’s uncles, were Bar Mitzvahed here and her mother, Noa, celebrated her Bat Mitzvah here too.  Noa, Itzik and Danielle were all members of NOAM, the youth movement group of the Masorati (Conservative) branch of Judaism, but more about that later. 

Inbar was born and raised in Ashkelon.  She has just completed two years of “Sherut L’eumi” (National Service) in a very prestigious position: in charge of the Visitors’ Center in the President’s House, where she not only guided visitors around the premises, but managed schedules, and arranged and met with special visitors from all over the world, including heads of countries and U.S. army veterans.

Upon completion of her service, Inbar was approached by Doron Rubin, our student rabbi and one of the original members of NOAM in his native Rechovot.  He asked Inbar if she would be interested in taking on the challenge of rebuilding the NOAM group in Netzach Israel.  After meetings and interviews with NOAM heads, she was offered the job.

Hit hard by the impact of the corona virus, its lockdowns and effects thereof, NOAM, as every youth group, has taken a loss.  Recruiting new members is very difficult and obviously, meetings and activities are relegated to zoom gatherings and kids have had enough of zoom.  Numbers of people allowed in the building are limited and anyway, most parents refuse to let their kids go anywhere after school (if there is school).  Motivation has been lacking due to all the obstacles put in the way of meetings, and because of the ups and downs of kids going to school, i.e. some days there is school and other days there isn’t, the challenges facing Inbar are huge.

“I have lots of ideas for when our life gets back to normal,” Inbar says.  “First, the current members and I will go to all the schools and introduce NOAM to the kids, inviting them to a sample meeting to see what we’re all about.  I also plan on starting our activities with a big “happening” and invite kids who may have never heard of NOAM to join us.  I’ll advertise via flyers, social media and of course, contact all the members of the Beit Knesset and promote us.  Membership is open to kids in 4th grade and up, and 9th graders can take a year course which allows them to be counsellors in the 10th grade and also get them to one of the many Camp Ramah’s (the conservative movement sleep-away camp) in the United States or Canada or here in Israel as well.”

“NOAM is a relatively small group nationwide, not like Scouts or B’nei Akiva, and that brings out a more family-like atmosphere. That’s part of NOAM’s magic.  This closeness appeals to lots of kids, but because of the ongoing disruption in our everyday lives, with three lockdowns since Passover and another tighter one on the way (as of this writing) everyone’s lives have been turning upside down.”

“I’m very excited to be the new head of NOAM in Netzach Israel, and with my mom and uncles being members of NOAM,   I’m carrying on the family tradition and that makes me happy.  I just hope that corona will be behind us, sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to really get things moving.”