5th Continental Seminar, Uruguay

April 2012

Our Youth Movement in Latin America, Maccabi Tzair CLAM (part of CLAM, the Latin American Maccabi Confederation) continues to make Maccabi history. Our madrichim, the best educators from Spanish speaking organizations, participated in the Fifth Continental Seminar at Alcion Hotel, Solis, 70 kilometers from Montevideo, Uruguay.

Since its inception during the 17th Maccabiah in July 2005, Maccabi Tzair CLAM has grown steadily. It is aimed exploring all aspects of our Maccabi ideals of Jewish Continuity and Zionism, and developing regional and international projects to create opportunities to share ideas and programs between Maccabi Youth organizations. Additionally, educational materials have been exchanged through camps, meetings, and simultaneous peulot (activities).

This exceptional Continental Seminar (the first was in Pirianápolis, Uruguay with 280 educators; the second in Buenos Aires, Argentina with 250, the third one in Santiago, Chile, with 300; the forth one in Buenos Aires, with 200) enjoyed participation of nearly 300 madrichim and educational coordinators from 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA and our Movement’s Center in Israel. The Continental Seminar is the culmination of dozens of regional and international seminars held in different parts of Latin America, USA and Israel.

This meeting succeeded in completing two main objectives. On an operational level, we continued to foster mutual planning and cooperation between the hundreds of Maccabi Latin American madrichim and their youth organizations; on an ideological level we worked to strengthen and deepen the connection between Maccabi ideology and our young educators, and opened a sincere discussion about the ideals and dilemmas of contemporary Jewish education.

The efforts of the leading team, its efficiency and loving dedication, made this new Continental Maccabi Seminar an ideal framework for training teachers of our most active Latin American Maccabim - our madrichim, coordinators and Rashei Hanagot / Mifkadot on the Continent.

Those were days of great intensity, starting the learning process at 9 a.m. and finishing at 1 to 3 a.m. every day. We got the support and participation of major international institutions that nurtured us with their ideas and gave us some of their best speakers - Yad Vashem, the Jewish Agency and the State of Israel among the most important. These organizations shared some of their finest speakers, affording a splendid opportunity for participants to learn, reflect, and prepare for the challenging task of educating new generations in an at times hostile environment, and under the constant threat of assimilation. We were enriched by the participation of high-caliber speakers - including: Julián Schvindlerman & Marcelo Birmajer (from our team of Hasbara), Rabbi Carlos Tapiero (MWU). Yoel Schvartz, Guido Holstein & Judith Iumal (Yad Vashem), Eduardo Kohn (B'nei Brith Uruguay), Dr. Roberto Fechtenholz (IDF), Hernan Vaserman & Judith Schorr Pony (JAFI), Alberto Enosh (MWU/CLAM Continental Sheliach) and our MWU Honorary Secretary, Dr. David Korenfeld, among many, many others – about 20 more speakers. Our Maccabi Continental leaders joined us repeatedly - Oscar Jaroslavsky, representing CLAM, (who attended our 5 Seminars Continental!). Our Tnuot on the Continent led modules and high-level activities and content. We address whole days devoted to themes such as Peoplehood (collective Jewish identity), Israel and its creation and dilemmas; contemporary Israel & contemporary Zionism; Hasbarah; the Jewish right over the Land of Israel; the threats to Israel’s existence; anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as one of its most violent expressions; short and long-term programs in Israel; Macabiut and Maccabi ideals; Maccabi Tzair Israel and its impressive work for Israeli society; Hadrachah and leadership; Shoah - teaching the Holocaust to different age groups, Judaism and Israeli arts and movies, and more. We prayed, danced and sang together; reflected individually and as a group; exchanged ideas and projects; discussed and debated… reaffirming and enriching our commitment to our Maccabi ideals.
We've teamed up with great respect and ongoing collaboration. We are all deeply grateful to Marcelo Machi Babat, Maccabi Tzair CLAM Rosh Hanagah, who led an impressive volunteer work with an investment of time and an extraordinary will; to Michelle Zaidensztat, Continental Seminar Rosh, who also voluntarily worked for the good performance of every detail of the Seminar; to Federico Wynter, for the love and effort poured into the educational program and for co-coordinating the mechanchim (the leading educational young team); to Federico Shindler, Rosh of Macabi Tzair Uruguay, who highly and effectively led the work of the local hosting staff; Nicolas Oper, co-head of the mechanchim and central part of the general planning, and to the Maccabi Tzair CLAM Hanagah, partners of the general success: Sgan Rosh: Benny Tolchinsky (Chile), Rosh Tmurot: Tania Charabati (México), Rosh Tikshoret: Martin Rubins (Argentina), Rosh Chinuch: Gonzalo Regal (Uruguay), - and Machi, of course.

We appreciate the invaluable support of the CLAM leadership - in the figures of Roby Croitorescu, Oscar and Anabella Jaroslavsky. MWU was responsible for the curriculum and speakers from abroad, bringing also the largest financial contribution to the event.
The seminar included various educational venues from workshops (participants were able to pick which from 6 parallel workshops), panels of speakers, assemblies, and general activities organized by youth groups from the different countries. Main educational/recreational attractions were brought by the Maccabi Tzair CLAM leadership: a Jewish Rock Band, a DJ and featured original songs for the closing activity. All evening activities for the participants were organized by different Maccabi youth organizations, showcasing the ability of our young leaders to produce meaningful and entertaining events. One highlight was the activity organized by the Maccabi Tzair CLAM Hanagah (the Board) which brought the principles of each Maccabi Youth Movement in the Continent. The event closed with a magnificent bonfire and our Chazak ve'ematz as a symbol of the promise to strengthen Jewish continuity and the centrality of Israel in their chanichim. As at previous Continental Seminars, the all-dressed-in-white Kabbalat, Shabbat tefilah and dinner and the Havdalah services boasted the complete and enthusiastic participation of the madrichim who sang, and after the Havdalah service, danced to our traditional songs and prayers, demonstrating their knowledge of and commitment to Judaism.

Every Maccabi Tzair organization showcased their Youth movements in the opening assembly. Some of them, exemplified by JUMA (Maccabi Argentina under FACCMA), used creative clips and original multimedia as a means of creating mutual learning between all participants. CLAM V-P Oscar Jaroslavsky ended the evening with a motivational speech enthusiastically received by the participants.

As to be expected, fun was always part of the Seminar experience. Maccabi Tzair Uruguay organized a Radio Booth for every free-time occasion (although there were very few!) encouraging spontaneous dancing for all. A post-Shabbat party was organized. During the final Misdar, our Maccabi leaders honored madrichim who will make aliyah in the coming months. Rabbi Tapiero offered a special blessing and participants enthusiastically applauded, recognizing these madrichim as models for all Maccabi madrichim.


Click here to view photos from the program.

The event organization by Machi and Maccabi Tzair Uruguay was outstanding. The production of events and attention to detail were extraordinary and participants gave very positive feedback. The quality of the speakers, the high level of discussion, the significant turn-out at each event, the possibilities for exchanging experiences and ideas, the non-stop programming with no "dead periods ", the sophisticated net of activities combining different components of learning, and the inspiring atmosphere of friendship and comradery contributed to the joy of such a huge reunion of young educators with common Maccabi ideals and deeds. Overall responsibility of Rabbi Carlos Tapiero, Maccabi World Union Deputy Director-General & Director of the Department of Education.